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The area where the town stands was initially a farm named Vischkuil-aan-de-Buffelsrivier.

In the 1870s, the government of Prime Minister John Molteno oversaw a massive expansion of the Cape Colony's railway system. The line was completed in 1878 and a small siding named Buffelsrivier was built at the farm.

It was initially renamed Nassau to avoid confusion with Buffalo River in East London, and finally changed to the name Laingsburg, after John Laing who was Commissioner of Crown Lands at the time.

Laingsburg has become a historical landmark through the devastating flood of 25 January 1981 when the town was almost entirely destroyed only a century after its founding. 104 Inhabitants lost their lives and 184 houses were destroyed. More information about the flood is available by way of a photo and visual exhibition, at the Flood Museum.

Laingsburg flood

The Laingsburg flood of 25 January 1981 is known as the most serious disaster in the history of South Africa. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the 25th rain fell continuously in and around Laingsburg, a small town in the Karoo between Cape Town and Beaufort West. At first the rain was gentle as a result of a low pressure system. But from Saturday afternoon to Sunday a high pressure system brought heavy thunder showers to the catchment area. Up to 425 mm rainfall was recorded that week-end, whereas the normal rainfall per annum is only 175 mm.

Floriskraal dam

Floriskraal Dam is a combined gravity and buttress type dam located on the Buffels River, near Laingsburg, Western Cape, South Africa. It was established in 1957. The primary purpose of the dam is to serve for irrigation.

It is at the bottom of the Floriskraal Dam that the river actually becomes known as the Groot Rivier. On the day of the 1981 floods, accounts say that the three rivers that meet a few kilometres north of Laingsberg – the Buffels River, the Wilgehout River and the Baviaans River - were all swollen with a significant amount of rain, which is highly unusual for the area.


The town of Matjiesfontein originally owes its existence to the Cape Government Railways, and to the route that their founder, Cape Prime Minister John Molteno, chose for a railway line that would connect Cape Town's port to the diamond fields of Kimberley. The Royal Commonwealth Society (1898) records that in a meeting with his consulting engineers, the Prime Minister called for a map of Southern Africa to be brought to him and, taking a ruler, drew his pen along it from Cape Town all the way inland. He then handed the map to the engineers, telling them to build the railway accordingly.

There is more to do than you think : Laird’s Arms Pub with drinks and live entertainment | 10 year old Transport Museum | Marie Rawdon Museum | Coffee House | London Double Decker Bus

Moordenaars Karoo

Laingsburg has many interesting ecological drives, including into the Moordenaars Karoo, an extremely dry area with an unexplained gruesome name. The town is the ideal base for those for love exploring. Rugged geology and "moonscapes" attract advertising and promotional film makers and much of the award-winning movie Story of an African Farm was shot at the original farmhouse at Zoutekloof.


The Museum specializes in the history of the flood that washed away part of the town on 25 January 1981.

With Zola Budd as celebrity participant and Laingsburg ambassador, this year promises to be the most rewarding yet for this well-known race in its 43rd year!


The Seven Weeks Poort, a low-lying mountain pass that is spectacular in its beauty as it takes you through the Swartberg Range.

The pass meanders for 17km through the mountains at a height that alternates between 600 - 1000m above sea-level. It crosses the stream 23 times, while the view of the mountain on both sides rises up to 1500 - 2000m.

Anysberg nature reserve

The Anysberg Nature Reserve of 62,500 ha is situated in the western Kleinkaroo region of the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The central mountain is named after Anise, Pimpinella anisum, which is found here.

Anysberg Nature Reserve was established in 1988 in order to conserve the local veldtype and to eventually re-introduce game species which historically occurred in this region.

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Wagendrift Activities

Welcome to Wagendrift Activites

In the heart of the Karoo

Activities only at Wagendrift

Rock Climbing

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Bird Watching

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Bow Hunting

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Adventure Biking

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4x4 Routes

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