THE SARAGOSSA STORY2019-08-26T14:09:21+00:00
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SARAGOSSA GAME RESERVE – A PLACE AWAY FROM TIME

The first name given to the land Saragossa is located on was ‘Farm Elandshoek’. It was one of the huge plots of land
allocated to the first settlers in the valley. Over the years the farm was portioned and some of them sold off.  One of these portions was
bought by William Harlow, or simply ‘Harlow’, as he was called by everyone. Originally from the UK, Harlow and his wife Poppy
settled in the Valley in the early 1920s, living in a modest four bedroomed house.  Harlow built the first bridge over
the Elands river, which was opened in 1930 and spent the rest of his life in the valley. He passed away in 1972 at the age of 86.

Our Saragossa story began in 2008 when a  German businessman and his South African friend bought one of the
portions of Elandshoek, as a farm and retreat. The farm was previously owned by a number of individuals and utilised for
various purposes, including Ostrich farming. Four years later he teamed up with a business friend to
buy adjoining portions of the original ‘Farm Elandshoek’,  all grouped under the name of ‘Saragossa’ since the 1970s.
These portions were incorporated to form the 1400ha Saragossa Game Reserve.  Plans to acquire the remaining
portions of the original farm are under consideration.

SARAGOSSA GAME RESERVE
A PLACE AWAY FROM TIME

The first name given to the land Saragossa is located on was ‘Farm Elandshoek’. It was one of the huge plots of land allocated to the first settlers in the valley. Over the years the farm was portioned and some of them sold off.  One of these portions was bought by William Harlow, or simply ‘Harlow’, as he was called by everyone. Originally from the UK, Harlow and his wife Poppy settled in the Valley in the early 1920s, living in a modest four bedroomed house.  Harlow built the first bridge over the Elands river, which was opened in 1930 and spent the rest of his life in the valley. He passed away in 1972 at the age of 86.

Our Saragossa story began in 2008 when a  German businessman and his South African friend bought one of the portions of Elandshoek, as a farm and retreat. The farm was previously owned by a number of individuals and utilised for various purposes, including Ostrich farming. Four years later he teamed up with a business friend to buy adjoining portions of the original ‘Farm Elandshoek’,  all grouped under the name of ‘Saragossa’ since the 1970s. These portions were incorporated to form the 1400ha Saragossa Game Reserve.  Plans to acquire the remaining portions of the original farm are under consideration.

THE SARAGOSSA STORY

The Elands Valley stretches lavishly along the Elands River and follows it from the area west of Waterval Boven to Elandshoek further north where it joins the Crocodile River, and to Kaapsehoop in the east. The Valley separates the Highveld, with its towering escarpment, from the bushlands and savannah of the subtropical Lowveld. Citrus fruit and other crops flourish in this fertile region. Gold and lime have also been found and mined. The landscape is a beautiful mixture of hills and mountains, forests along the river and savannah – an irreplaceable area with the highest biodiversity status.

THE SARAGOSSA STORY

The Elands Valley stretches lavishly along the Elands River and follows it from the area west of Waterval Boven to Elandshoek further north where it joins the Crocodile River, and to Kaapsehoop in the east. The Valley separates the Highveld, with its towering escarpment, from the bushlands and savannah of the subtropical Lowveld. Citrus fruit and other crops flourish in this fertile region. Gold and lime have also been found and mined. The landscape is a beautiful mixture of hills and mountains, forests along the river and savannah – an irreplaceable area with the highest biodiversity status.

THE BEAUTY OF NATURE

The Elands River is an important perennial water source for the Valley, the Lowveld and the southern part of Kruger National Park. Its beauty is reflected in the breath taking waterfall in Waterval Boven. Back in the day, the valley is believed to have been inhabited and farmed by Khoikhoi and later, the Basuto. By the time the first Europeans arrived, those early inhabitants had been driven away by the Swazi, who subsequently settled in the area. Nineteenth-century records tell of encounters between the Swazi and the occasional game hunter, or pioneers passing through in an era when travel was only possible on foot, horseback or by ox-wagon.

THE BEAUTY OF NATURE

The Elands River is an important perennial water source for the Valley, the Lowveld and the southern part of Kruger National Park. Its beauty is reflected in the breath taking waterfall in Waterval Boven. Back in the day, the valley is believed to have been inhabited and farmed by Khoikhoi and later, the Basuto. By the time the first Europeans arrived, those early inhabitants had been driven away by the Swazi, who subsequently settled in the area. Nineteenth-century records tell of encounters between the Swazi and the occasional game hunter, or pioneers passing through in an era when travel was only possible on foot, horseback or by ox-wagon.

THINGS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY

Things changed dramatically in the 1890s, when the Netherlands-South African Railway Company (ZASM) built a railway to connect landlocked Pretoria to Delagoa Bay (today’s Maputo Bay) in Mozambique. The advent of the railway boosted trade in the Valley. In 1895 the railway between Waterval Onder and Waterval Boven became known for its four kilometres of rack railroad that climbed up the escarpment and for the famous ZASM tunnel that had been blown into the rocks for this purpose. This narrow-gauge sideline – a remarkable piece of engineering – was one of few rack-tracks in the world.

In 1920, upon completion of a new train line along the waterfall, the tunnel became the first road leading directly into the Valley, which had previously been accessible only on foot or by train. It was only in 1972 that an adjacent tunnel and the N4 national highway was built to link Johannesburg with Nelspruit and Maputo.

THINGS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY

Things changed dramatically in the 1890s, when the Netherlands-South African Railway Company (ZASM) built a railway to connect landlocked Pretoria to Delagoa Bay (today’s Maputo Bay) in Mozambique. The advent of the railway boosted trade in the Valley. In 1895 the railway between Waterval Onder and Waterval Boven became known for its four kilometres of rack railroad that climbed up the escarpment and for the famous ZASM tunnel that had been blown into the rocks for this purpose. This narrow-gauge sideline – a remarkable piece of engineering – was one of few rack-tracks in the world.

In 1920, upon completion of a new train line along the waterfall, the tunnel became the first road leading directly into the Valley, which had previously been accessible only on foot or by train. It was only in 1972 that an adjacent tunnel and the N4 national highway was built to link Johannesburg with Nelspruit and Maputo.

ENJOY NATURE AND COUNTRY

The Valley’s most famous inhabitant was Paul Kruger, the last president of the South African Republic (Transvaal), who spent several months in the valley in 1900. Forced to flee from Pretoria at the height of the Anglo-Boer War, he took up residence at the Krugerhof, near Waterval Onder, while his government was based in Machadodorp. Word has it, that president Kruger preferred the warmth of Waterval Onder to the cold of the Highveld. As a result, his ministers had to shuttle back and forth to manage the affairs of state. Kruger later fled to Europe, via Mozambique, and remained there for the rest of his life. He died in Switzerland in 1904. Though initially buried in Europe, he was finally laid to rest in Pretoria.

Other noteworthy places in the Valley – to name just a few – are the old goldmining village Kaapsehoop (or Kaapsche Hoop), which is also known for its wild horses and the rare blue swallow, and the Sappi Pulp Mill, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and a giant in the pulp and paper industry. Nowadays, with agriculture no longer profitable, only a few commercial farms have remained in the Valley. It is home to retirees who enjoy nature and country style living.

ENJOY NATURE AND COUNTRY

The Valley’s most famous inhabitant was Paul Kruger, the last president of the South African Republic (Transvaal), who spent several months in the valley in 1900. Forced to flee from Pretoria at the height of the Anglo-Boer War, he took up residence at the Krugerhof, near Waterval Onder, while his government was based in Machadodorp. Word has it, that president Kruger preferred the warmth of Waterval Onder to the cold of the Highveld. As a result, his ministers had to shuttle back and forth to manage the affairs of state. Kruger later fled to Europe, via Mozambique, and remained there for the rest of his life. He died in Switzerland in 1904. Though initially buried in Europe, he was finally laid to rest in Pretoria.

Other noteworthy places in the Valley – to name just a few – are the old goldmining village Kaapsehoop (or Kaapsche Hoop), which is also known for its wild horses and the rare blue swallow, and the Sappi Pulp Mill, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and a giant in the pulp and paper industry. Nowadays, with agriculture no longer profitable, only a few commercial farms have remained in the Valley. It is home to retirees who enjoy nature and country style living.

Source: Davies-Webb, Paddy (2009): Memories of the Lowveld’s Elands Valley, 1854-1983, Recollections of a lifetime in the Valley and its surrounds.
ISBN 978-0-620-44799-7