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Our History

For those who have a historical interest, Duma Manzi Nature Reserve is steeped in history. Cecil John Rhodes first arrived in Durban on 1 September 1870. He brought three thousand pounds his aunt lent him and used it to invest in diamond diggings in Kimberly. After a brief stay with the Surveyor-General of Natal, Dr. P.C. Sutherland, in Pietermaritzburg, Rhodes joined his brother Herbert on his cotton farm in the Umkomaas valley in Natal.

The C J Rhodes 1870 National Heritage Site is situated in the heart of Duma Manzi, where Cecil John Rhodes and his brother Herbert, first farmed cotton in 1870. The first wagon road from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town is found on our nature reserve. In October 1871 Rhodes left the colony for the diamond fields of Kimberly.

“I never saw such an extra-ordinarily beautiful place in life. There, hundreds of feet below us, stretched out the whole valley with our huts looking like specs, and in the distance there were hills rising one above another, with a splendid blue tint on them”
(Cecil John Rhodes, 1870)

Hilltop House – built in 1880, has been kept in its original state by the owners and offers a bygone era Victorian Colonial Experience.

Duma Manzi Eco Lodge and Spa is situated in Richmond, with another 4000 hectares that lie across the Mkomazi River, which falls into the Ixopo region. Richmond is a town with an illustrious history, just like the Reserve itself. The Original settlers to arrive in Richmond came from Beaulieu, the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch in Richmond. As a result of difficulty in pronunciation, the town was later renamed Richmond.

Ixopo, immortalized in Alan Paton’s “Cry the Beloved Country” is the main centre of the Southern Midlands. Although originally named ‘Stuartstown’, the original onomatopoeic Zulu name has prevailed. When pronounced in Zulu, the ‘click’ letter (letter ‘x’) is reminiscent of the cattle’s hooves moving through the local marshes.

The original Dead Man’s Tree, where funeral notices were posted is still outside the Post Office. The Off Saddle Hotel is reputedly the oldest hostelry in South Africa to have retained its original name.

Ixopo’s countryside is very attractive, ranging in height from 400m to 1800m and therefore, encompasses many different topographies that give Duma Manzi a very distinct and diverse landscape.