The Sani Pass Underberg Himeville district’s first inhabitants were the Bushmen or San people. They were nomadic and migrated between the high Berg in summer and the lower valleys in winter, following the natural migration of the game which they hunted. The tragic end to their presence in our mountains came with the arrival of white settlers to the Midlands area in the mid 1800’s. The Bushmen’s food, the game, was hunted almost to extinction by the white settlers, and so the Bushmen took to raiding the farms for cattle and horses. This lead to reprisals and the eventual annihilation of the Drakensberg Bushmen by the late 1860’s. All that remains are their stunning paintings in rock shelters in the mountains. The Drakensberg mountains are an area incredibly rich in rock art. Our Southern section contains well over 150 discovered shelters containing rock art. Some well-known sites have been badly damaged as a result of uncontrolled visitor access, and sites on Nature Conservation land can now only be visited with a guide. (link Tour Operators)
Many African splinter groups lived in this district from the middle of the 1800’s onwards. Today they all consider themselves as Zulus. The road north towards Loteni and Vergelegen goes through large areas of tribal land.
White settlers arrived in the district in the 1880’s . A store in Underberg was the start of this village, while Himeville grew up around the fort built in the 1890’s . This building survives, having been used for many years as the jail. Today, half is the magistrate’s court, and the other half is the excellent Himeville Museum. Other historical buildings in the area are the missions at Reichenau and Centocow, both of which boast beautiful turn-of-the-century churches with interesting paintings and stained glass windows. There is also an amazing church, built entirely of yellowwood, in the village of Bulwer.