Stutterheim, Amatola- Eastern Cape

Stutterheim's Natural Beauty! Image source

The small town of Stutterheim lies at the foot of the Amatola Mountain range in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This picturesque town is situated about 70 km from East London  on the N6 Highway to the north.
Stutterheim is a town with a population of 46,730 in South Africa, situated in the Border region of the Eastern Cape province.  Stutterheim has a rich history that makes for fascinating reading. From the Xhosa groups that were moving into the area to the German settlers of the 19th century, to the English colonists that followed, this is a story of change, conflict and settlement that matches any African literature and fiction for excitement. The history of Stutterheim mirrors the history of the Eastern Cape, and South Africa as a whole. 
Lying nestled at the feet of the eastern slopes of the Kologha Mountains, the little town of Stutterheim is on the N6 to East London, is easy to reach, and is situated in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the country. The area has a fair amount of annual rain, and as such, has a flourishing forestry industry that includes large plantations of pine, gum and wattle. Add to this the surrounding dams, hills and indigenous forests and it is easy to see why Stutterheim would appeal to hikers, bikers, birders and campers for whom escaping it all is important.
Originally established as a missionary station in 1837, Stutterheim today has achieved acclaim for its community building and development, and the Stutterheim Miracle - the successful reconciliation process of a small town - is internationally regarded. The Stutterheim Development Foundation, the organization behind the accomplishment, frequently presents the model as a case study to many parts of the world. Other than the peace and quiet of the town, the incredible trout and bass fishing and the hikes and walks, you can also visit the Mgwali Village or call in at the Stutterheim Engine Museum, which houses a wide collection of steam engines from days gone by and is  believed to have one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of restored stationary engines, all in mint running condition, in the world. The oldest gem is a Mietz & Weitz engine dating back to 1905. Forgotten names like Ruston Hornsby, Wholesly, Bamford, Lister and Massey Harris are all there, saved from a scrap yard where they would have been crushed and melted down to be lost forever. The development and advancement of technology can be followed in the engines on display, some dating back almost a century to the very recent, world class, advanced Mercedes C200 Kompressor engine.
Stutterheim has a rich history; From the Xhosa groups that were moving into the area to the German settlers of the 19th century, to the English colonists that followed. The town is named after Baron Richard Carl Gustav Ludwig Wilhelm Julius von Stutterheim.
Stutterheim boasts the second largest indigenous forest in South Africa (second only to the Tsitsikamma forest in Knysna). The forested mountains are home to much endemic flora and fauna, including the endangered Cape Parrot.
The hiking, mountain bike and horse trails on the mountains are very scenic and include sweeping views, beautiful forests and cascading waterfalls. Gubu Dam is a must see in Stutterheim. This breathtakingly beautiful dam is stocked with trout and day fishing permits can be bought.
Other activities in Stutterheim include the indigenous nursery, bird watching and golf. There are many accommodation establishments ranging from luxury accommodation to camping. 
The majestic yellow wood trees tower above you and the stately pines sway gently in the breeze, the bird life is astounding. The combination of indigenous and exotic forest plays an integral part in providing sanctuary for numerous bird species. The rare Knysna Lourie whose distribution is mainly limited to the eastern coast of Southern Africa and parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique is a year-round resident and is equally at home in the natural and pine forests which cover the mountainside. These birds, normally one of natures shyest are also common visitors to the gardens near the forest.
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Last updated : 12-Apr-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 12-Apr-2019

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