Ratelgat, Historical Griekwa Farm on the Knersvlakte, Home To Namaqualand Spring Flowers
Ratelgat is a historical Griekwa farm on the Knersvlakte, 35 km from Van Rhynsdorp in the direction of Springbok. The Griekwa presence dates back to 1920 when the paramount Chief, Die Kneg, A. A. S. le Fleur 1(1867 - 1941) led his people to escape English Colonialism and to foster their Griekwa culture here. Ratelgat is close to the N7 en route to Springbok and driving 25 km from Vanrhynsdorp to Vredendal brings the visitor to the heart of the Olifants River Valley's wine and vegetable industry.
The present owners of Ratelgat is the Griekwa Ratelgat Development Trust. Their aim is to have Ratelgat as a sacred place for their own festivals and traditional events and also to let the visitor experience the culture of the Griekwa - the first people in this area - by means of sharing in the stories, traditional dances and songs against the background of the unique natural heritage of the Knersvlakte.
Driving on to the Knersvlakte, one is immediately struck by the top layer of white quartz pebbles covering the gently rolling hills of the area intermingled with the most ashtonishing variety of dwarf succulent plants. It is a remote and silent place, but your attention is always drawn to the top cover of the land.
What is the meaning of "Kners" in the name? Some say it's the sound of biting on your teeth while travelling across the flatland to meet the first water at Nuwerus, the next water from Van Rhynsdorp, some 70 km away on the road to Springbok.
Some say that "Kners" resembles the crashing sound made by the metal wheels of ox and horse driven carts on the pebbles.
Some say it came from the official ceremonial, name of the Griekwa leader "Die Kneg van God" ("God's Servant"). During his reign the Vlakte was referred to as "Die Knegs Vlakte" Later pronounced as Knersvlakte.
A deep feeling of expectation, of close, authentic experiences of Griekwa culture in harmony with this rare environment of succulents come to the fore when approaching Ratelgat and the Matjieshuiskraal with the nearby sacred place and monument.
Accommodation: Two x2 beds & four x4 bed chalets with 2 plate gas stove, fridge, cutlery and bedding, warm water and braai facilities at each chalet available. Maximum accommodation available: 20 People. Guides and larger groups could also be accommodated at the Traditional Village.
Ratelgat is a 9000 ha farm on the Knersvlakte, home to various indigenous succulent plants in real semi desert, remote, blue sky country. Apart from the entrance buildings at the gate next to the N7, three other places of Griekwa culture exist.
The wind mill: the place where the paramount chief spent some months. Cement constructed chalets for self catering guests have been built and are fully equipped. Two 2 bedroom units and four 4 bed units are available. Solar hot water system, same toilets as at matjieshuis kraal, gas stove and fridge and solar power for lighting. Some attractions and traditional entertainment at matjieshuise will also be available to guests accommodated in the chalets.
The Griekwa monument and graves of the forefathers: Matjieshuiskraal where 28 matjies houses, twin bedded units, were erected according to the old tradition. Senior members of the Griekwa people acted as mentors while young volunteers learned the trade of building these structures. They are all furnished in simple, traditional style. Bigger matjies houses serve as communal bathrooms with gas heated hot water and dry, odourless, natural fermentation toilet units. Food is prepared in the lapa - kitchen where breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared on open fires and served by local hosts.
A hiking trail starts at the Matjieshuis kraal where endemic succulents can be seen along with San rock art. There is also a small, natural theatre for cultural events and a recreational area around the swimming pool.