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Posted on: Wednesday, 22 August 2012

5 Things to Do in Graaff Reinet

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Valley of Desolation

Valley of Desolation

Graaff Reinet is a historical town in the Karoo Heartland of South Africa. This area is known for its spectacular countryside that is ideal for farming. And, although this town enjoys a politically historical value, it is also the site of fascinating fossils and other archaeological wonders.

It is the fourth-oldest town in the country and boasts more heritage sites than anywhere else in South Africa (at more than 220 different sites).

Visitors to Graaff Reinet have plenty to do and see during their visit to the Karoo. Here are five of our favourites:

he Valley of Desolation lies within Camdeboo National Park, less than 15 kilometres from the centre of Graaff-Reinet. The immense cliff faces and geological value of this area has earned it the title of a national monument. The entire area resonates with a deep historical significance. The looming mountains are believed to have been formed by volcanoes that erupted hundreds of millions of years ago.

Today, the cliffs, ravines and vegetation are home to hundreds of different animal species, including more than 200 different types of birds and 40 wildlife species. There are a number of walking trails available, which are suitable for different walking abilities.

Graaff Reinet Museum

Graaff Reinet Museum

The Anglo-Boer War Memorial was unveiled in 1908 and was erected in memory of those that fought and died in the Anglo Boer War, which took place between 1899 and 1902. The actual design of the memorial is based on photographs of the soldiers in action during the war.

The Graaff Reinet Museum transports visitors to yesteryear, revealing the wonders and beauty of Graaff Reinet in its most unspoilt state. The buildings making up the museum were established in the beginning of the 19th century and showcase everything from antique furniture to cave art.

With a floor space of almost 4 000 square metres, the Graaff Reinet Museum has plenty for young and old alike, whether local visitors from South Africa or tourists from around the world. In 2005, the Military Museum was added to the complex and has proven to be most valuable for insights into political and military events that have shaped, to a greater or lesser degree, our country.

Camdeboo National Park

Camdeboo National Park

The War Memorial is situated in front of the Town Hall, making it accessible to anyone visiting Graaff Reinet. This memorial was erected after the First World War to commemorate the soldiers that lost their lives in this series of bloody battles.

The area in which the memorial is situated is now known as the Mayor’s Garden, creating a really beautiful setting in which to remember the lives sacrificed in the name of war.

Camdeboo National Park is surrounded by the natural beauty of the magnificent Sneeuberg Mountain Range and the Sundays River Valley. It is almost 20 000 hectares in area and is home to an impressive variety of wildlife.

Useful Graaff-Reinet Links:
Graaff-Reinet Attractions
Accommodation in Graaff Reinet
Graaff Reinet Hotels
Accommodation in Eastern Cape
Accommodation in South Africa


The Valley of Desolation


Amelia Meyer


Amelia is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for all things travel-related. She is based in Knysna, but has studied, lived and travelled further afield. She studied Film, Media and Literature at the University of Cape Town. She began her solo career in the form of Voxate Writing & Editing in 2008 and loves every minute of it. Amelia believes in silver linings, lessons learnt and the responsibility to do what’s right. When she is not writing, she can frequently be found at the local animal shelter, on the bicycle trails of the nature reserves or sampling new restaurants with her family.

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