A five- to six- hour guided tour incorporating the Himeville Museum, the Reichenau Mission and the Gerard Bhengu Art Gallery at Centacow, as well as the Centacow Mission.
Gerard Bhengu Art Museum at Centacow
This itinerary incorporates History and Mission Tourism of the Southern Drakensberg region.
09h00: Meet at the Himeville Fort and Museum in Arbuckle Street, Himeville, alternatively you can request collection from your accommodation establishment to arrive at the Museum before the start of the tour.
09h15 – 10h15: Tour the Museum either on your own, with a Tourist Guide or the Curator / Assistant Curator. This up-market country museum boasts over 2000 beautifully laid out artifacts that are displayed to facilitate the ‘walk through’ system. View a fascinating variety of cultures and ages, ranging from a newly revamped San Rock Art – display, to Anglo Boer and WWII memorabilia as well as ploughs, implements, wagons and period costumes. The Nature Room displays some specimens of the unique birds and raptors that live in this Southern Drakensberg region, while the Settler Room records some of the history of the pioneers from this district.
The Museum is housed in the last fortified laager built in South Africa, taken over by the Natal Mounted Police in 1902 when it became a prison. In 1972 the prison closed down, but the Historical Society managed the takeover of the building in 1976 and the Museum opened in 1981 – Himeville Museum brochure.
As you make your way around this delightful building, feel free to read our museum brochure for more interesting information.
10h15 – 11h45: After departing from the Museum, you will travel to Underberg along the R617 towards Bulwer. Here, we turn off to the left and travel 22kms further to the Reichenau Mission. As a wonderful example of Trappist Monk architecture, this large building enables visitors to marvel at the stained glass windows of the old Roman Catholic church. Here you can also enjoy tea or coffee while seeing the old water mill used to grind corn (mielies). This Mission was founded in 1886 and was the first ‘branch’ Mission of the famous Mariannhill Mission west of Durban. Abbot Francis Pfanner of the New Reformed Cistercian Order of monks, known as Trappists, came to South Africa in the early 1880’s. He established Mariannhill Monastery first and then broke away from the monastic tradition of silence to serve and look after the people in the Natal Colony.
11h45 – 12h30: After saying farewell to Reichenau, the tour continues by travelling along the R617 in the direction of Bulwer. A short distance further on this tarred road, you will turn right and head for the Centacow Mission and Hospital nestling at the bottom of the Umzimkhulu Valley.
12h30 – 13h30: Take a tour of the Gerard Bhengu Art Gallery with the resident Curator before visiting the Church of Centacow to view the striking stained glass window above the Altar.
13h30 – 14h00: Lunch.
14h00 – 15h00: Return to Himeville and arrive at the Himeville Museum at about 15h00 to collect your vehicle.