The Voortrekkers
Louis Tregardt's heroic but futile trek to Mozambique.
The Trek of Louis Tregardt
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Tregardt Treks to Delagoa Bay (Maputo)

Consequently on 23rd August 1837, the party headed South for a hundred miles and then east, leaving their little settlement and its graves. Illness continued to dog the party with the third of Tregardt's children being left buried in the veld. Ahead rose the massif of the mighty Drakensberg.

On 30th November 1837, after three months of arduous backbreaking effort, fording and refording rivers, hacking rough paths and double yoking spans of oxen together - and coping with arguments in his party as to the best route - Tregardt stood finally on the summit of the Drakensberg. The descent was as difficult as the ascent with the rear wheels removed from the wagons and replaced by trees acting as brakes.


Eventually the men despaired of finding a way down and the women undertook a reconnaissance of their own and found a comparatively easy descent so that two days before Christmas 1837, the worst was over. Coincidentally, Maritz was leading his trek over the Drakensberg into Natal some two hundred miles away at almost exactly the same time.

Their path now took them across what is now the Kruger National Park. Finally, they plodded into the fort at Delagoa Bay.

Tregardt Arrives in Delagoa Bay

voortrekkersAfter two years away from any sort of civilization their joy was short lived. One by one the party came down with malaria and died. Mrs. Tregardt died on May 1st 1838. By October, Louis Tregardt was also dead of malaria. Almost a year later the remaining 25 of the party were taken to Port Natal (Durban). All except Tregardt's son Carolus who was charged with finding a less pestilential home for his people and dispatched in June 1838. The memorial to Trechardt in Maputo is at right.

The Travels of Carolus Tregardt

voortrekkersThus began a second epic adventure. Carolus first travelled up the Mozambique coast to Sofala, then 350 miles inland to what is now Zimbabwe. He ascended the Zambezi possible as far as Victoria Falls then sailed further north to Abyssinia. After exploring this area, he visited Madagascar before returning to Delagoa Bay - only to find that his companions had been evacuated to Port Natal.

He then travelled more than 500 miles on foot to meet them there, passing the site of the van Rensburg massacre where he buried their bones.

Next . . . Hendrik Potgieter - military mastermind of the trekkers.