Our Town

The Town:

The oldest town in the Eastern Cape, the fourth oldest in South Africa and certainly one of the most atmospheric, Graaff-Reinet lies enclosed by a bend in the Sundays River, overshadowed by the rocky Sneeuberg Mountain within the Camdeboo National Park.

With over 200 buildings claimed as National Monuments and an entire street restored, including its slave cottages, Graaff-Reinet has retained much of the character of a typical 19th century town and is well worth a visit because of it. Known as the ‘gem of the Karoo’, Graaff-Reinet was founded in 1786 by the governor Cornelius Jacob van de Graaff, whose wife’s name was Cornelia Reinet.

Her namesake – Reinet House – was originally built as a parsonage and is now a museum with one of the largest living grape vines in the world in its garden. This still bears fruit today. Although Graaff-Reinet is in the heart of the Karoo Heartland with its flat, sandy plains and incredibly hot summers, it is encircled by the Camdeboo Park, which breaks the sandy monotony with its rich greenness and mountains.

The Camdeboo National Park:

Within the park are the Nqweba Dam and the Valley of Desolation, providing some of the best examples of the unique jointed pillars formed by dolerites, which rise to heights of 120 metres in places. This ‘cathedral of mountains’ provides many visitors with an incredible spiritual experience at best and one of environmental awareness at least. Because of the diverse geography of the area, there is a rich bird and animal life.

Within the Camdeboo Conservancy are some 22 farms, providing visitors with a range of accommodation and hikers with some amazing trails. There is trout fishing, horse riding, Graaff-Reinet’s bird club and the national park is stocked with game.

There are also specialised tours in Graaff-Reinet for game viewing, rock art, fossil study, township walkabouts and Boer War monuments.

A visit to the area would be incomplete without a visit to the little hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda and the Owl House.

Our Golf Course:

Graaff-Reinet Golf Course, The Commonage, Graaff-Reinet / This is a 9 hole golf course with 18 tee-boxes is situated 5 km outside of the town of Graaff-Reinet on the Aberdeen Road.

The Graaff-Reinet golf club enjoys reciprocity with Shark River, Walmer Country Club, Oudtshoorn, Uitenhage, Somerset West, Port Elizabeth, Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay golf courses.

The Valley of Desolation:

Valley of Desolation

Valley Of Desolation, Eastern Cape – The Valley of Desolation is a geological phenomenon; a sheer cliff face, declared a national monument that lies within the Camdeboo National Park – a unique Karoo landscape and ecosystem that surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, creating a type of oasis in the midst of the aridness of the Karoo.

The vertical cliffs and columns of dolerite that teeter precariously 120 metres above the valley floor are breathtaking. This unusual feature is the product of volcanic and erosive forces that have taken 100 million years to form. They stand sentry over a valley – huge isolated hobgoblins of nature, forcing those who view them to suspend time, if only for a moment, to contemplate the force and beauty of nature.

You’re only 14 kilometres outside of Graaff-Reinet and yet the diversity of the fauna and flora is incredible and attracts 220 species of bird, 336 plants and 43 types of mammal. The Valley of Desolation invites one to stay awhile or to traverse its features and there are walking trails that range from an hour to overnight hikes, as well as picnic sites for those who simply want to gawp at the majestic precipices.

Graaff-Reinet is without doubt worth a visit just for the charmingly restored Karoo-style homes and the historical buildings; and the little hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda lures even the most cynical tourist to the Owl House – the tours never fail to impress and the camel yard to enchant. 

Valley Of Desolation, Eastern Cape – The Valley of Desolation is a geological phenomenon; a sheer cliff face, declared a national monument that lies within the Camdeboo National Park – a unique Karoo landscape and ecosystem that surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, creating a type of oasis in the midst of the aridness of the Karoo.

The vertical cliffs and columns of dolerite that teeter precariously 120 metres above the valley floor are breathtaking. This unusual feature is the product of volcanic and erosive forces that have taken 100 million years to form. They stand sentry over a valley – huge isolated hobgoblins of nature, forcing those who view them to suspend time, if only for a moment, to contemplate the force and beauty of nature.

You’re only 14 kilometres outside of Graaff-Reinet and yet the diversity of the fauna and flora is incredible and attracts 220 species of bird, 336 plants and 43 types of mammal. The Valley of Desolation invites one to stay awhile or to traverse its features and there are walking trails that range from an hour to overnight hikes, as well as picnic sites for those who simply want to gawp at the majestic precipices.

Graaff-Reinet is without doubt worth a visit just for the charmingly restored Karoo-style homes and the historical buildings; and the little hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda lures even the most cynical tourist to the Owl House – the tours never fail to impress and the camel yard to enchant.

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