Taking its name from the Dutch town, Utrecht boasts a rich history. It was one of the five original Voortrekker towns laid out before 1850. A Historical Walk brochure is available from the Utrecht Information Office in the town centre that describes the history and interesting architectural features of the town.
The area around the town is the tribal area of five Zulu amaKhosi (chiefs) and there are plans for a cultural centre. It is the only town sited within a game reserve and game wanders into the town at night.
Utrecht played a major role in the events leading up to the Anglo/Zulu war of 1879 and Lord Chelmsford and both Sir Evelyn Wood and his Flying Column had their HQs in the town.
During the Boer War, Leo Pokrowsky, a Pole who was an officer in the Russian Army but was fighting for the Boer forces was killed in a skirmish with the British in 1900. A plaque commemorating this event is in the Anglican Church. The old cemetery holds the graves of numbers of British and Boer soldiers.
There is another monument to Petrus Uys who was one of the first magistrates. He went on commando with his four sons and was killed at Hlobane.
The Utrecht Conservancy And Game Park
20,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of indigenous bushveld have been set aside as a conservancey. 5,500 hectares have been enclosed as a game park. There are also San painting sites.
The town nestles beneath the Balele mountains and is rich with history and there are ten national monuments and ten historic sites so it is worthwhile to spend some time in this little town.
The Old Parsonage Museum houses period artefacts including items found at military campsites as well as a large collection of Dutch bibles and portrays the border dispute between the Transvaal and Zululand.
Rothman and Shawe houses are two of the best examples of colonial architecture in KwaZulu-Natal. Nearby is Conference Hill where representatives of the British Government negotiated with the Zulus prior to the outbreak of the AngloZulu War in 1879.
There are a number of hiking trails in the Balele mountains including the Balele Hiking trail through the Enhlanzeni Valley with overnight stops in an old farmstead and Zulu huts (034 331 3041), as well as the Entabeni (034 331 3888) and the Balele Mountain Lodge (017 73 00418).
Utrecht is also emerging as an exciting fly fishing destination. Fly fishing establishments include the Balele Mountain Lodge (017 73 00418), the Pivaan River Lodge (034 331 4440) and Bivane Wetland Reserve (034 331 3456).
There is game viewing at the Balele Game Park and a visit to the Mongosotho Arts and Crafts Village is well worthwhile.