Geography and History
Graaff-Reinet, the heart of the “Great Karoo” is surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Established in 1786, this town was named after the Governor of that time - 'van der Graaf' and his wife -'Reinet'. It was only the fourth district in the Cape to receive a seat of local government or a 'Drostdy'.
Known to be a barren and untamed area, it became the outpost of white civilization for trading by the middle of the last century. The picturesque Sneeuberg Mountain Range keep watch over this typical 19th century rural town in the Eastern Cape. The town lies in the horse-shoe bend of the Sundays River and boasts more proclaimed national monuments than any other South African town.
It lies in the middle of the Karoo National Reserve (15 000 ha) where another wonder of nature, Valley of Desolation, keep silent memories of times gone by.
Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and is recognized as the home of magnificent examples of Cape Dutch architecture, and over 220 heritage sites (more than any other town in South Africa!). The past is preserved in four extraordinary museums which hold collections of photographic memorabilia, firearms, artworks and fossils, tracing the story of the Karoo - and the town - from pre-history right up to the present day.
It is also worthwhile to take a drive to the spectacular Valley of Desolation and to the Karoo Nature Reserve a few minutes northwest of the town. The 14.000 hectare reserve is well stocked with game. Particularly mountain zebra, wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok are numerous, but also many other mammal and bird species.
Graaff-Reinet boasts many other tourist attractions, from paragliding over micro light flying, trout fishing, fossil search, golf, horse riding and mountain biking to guided township walks
Here the clear night skies are studded with countless stars, offering some of the best star gazing in the world.
Fossils of some of the earliest forms of one-celled life have been discovered here, indicating that life has existed in this region for three billion years. The richness of pre-dinosaur fossils in this region is world-renowned.
Come and experience the magic of this area, discover eccentric little hamlets, sprawling farmsteads and the historical town of Graaff-Reinet, populated by warm and welcoming people that love to share their stories and legends!
Accommodation in and around Graaff-Reinet include: Guest houses, Guest Farms, Self Catering, B&B’s, Hotels and Game lodges.
Photos and information courtesy of Graaff-Reinet Tourism.
|Graaff-Reinet Tourism Office Information|
|Telephone:||+27 (0) 49 892 4248|
|Address:||17 Church Street 6280 Graaff-Reinet, South Africa