Graaff Reinet IS BEST KNOWN FOR its restored Cape Dutch buildings and Cape Malay flat roof houses in it’s serene Karoo tranquility.
GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT The Valley of Desolation during the spectacularly beautiful sunset or sunrise.
THE BEST PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN AT Stretch Court which used to be the old slave quarters, at the old slave bell, still in existence.
OTHER HAPPY SNAPS AT the rural, water rich village of Nieu Bethesda where the beautiful Dutch Reformed Church can accommodate the total population of the town. (± 50 km from Graaff Reinet.) Don’t forget to visit the world-renowned Owl House, made known by Athol Fugard’s play, The Road to Mecca.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD, I LIKE TO get a picnic basket from Niki at Chocolat and take a ride along the Mountain Drive on the western side of the town and find a place where I can enjoy my breakfast at leisure, overlooking the town of Graaff Reinet.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO go to the Hester Rupert Art Gallery, beautifully restored with the most incredible lighting – one can’t even make out where the light comes from!
I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT IS spring and early summer, BECAUSE the gardens are covered with flowering bougainvilla and the streets lined with blooming jacarandas. Autumn days are so special with its almost perfect weather – never too cold or too hot.
MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST SPOT IS The Cold Stream Restaurant, annexed to one of the oldest existing Men’s Clubs in South Africa, The Graaff Reinet Men’s Club (Women allowed!). The restaurant overlooks the Old Dutch Reformed Church.
FOR LUNCH, I SUGGEST Polka Restaurant with its happy atmosphere and the nicest thin based pizzas in town, not to talk about the rest of the light dishes on the menu.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS … impossible to choose! We have such a variety of very good restaurants that it is difficult to choose, therefore we rotate: Will it be Polka with its unbeatable Pork Belly, delicious ostrich steaks at Cold Stream, mouth-watering Rack of Lamb at Die Kliphuis? Or what about a typical Kerrie Potjie at Pioneers and the super steaks at The Camdeboo Restaurant at the Drostdy Hotel?
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK FROM the Kromm’s Inn Pub at the Drostdy Hotel, is not to be missed.
MY FAVOURITE SPOT IS an early morning ride to the Nqweba Dam wall, turn left on the other side of the dam wall and go up a forgotten road. At the end of this road, I overlook the dam and I am enthralled by the beauty of the Karoo. This road is known as “Kiss me Quick”!
IF YOU WANT TO MEET LOCALS, GO TO The Graaff Reinet Men’s Club especially on a Friday night and have a chat with the golden oldies.
Graaff Reinet’s BEST KEPT SECRET IS its old world charm, unaffected by the present time.
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS have a skottelbraai on top of The Valley of Desolation. From where you park, it is a 300m walk to the breathtaking view of the cathedral of mountains.
FOR SOME LIVE MUSIC, I LIKE TO GO TO Pioneers Restaurant where Willa Louther with his saxophone and band bring back past memories.
TO RELAX AND RESTORE MY SOUL, I LIKE TO go to the lookout point at the Valley of Desolation and view Graaff Reinet from 1700m and realize why it was established here.
IF YOU’RE FEELING ADVENTUROUS, TRY the 4 wheel drive track in the Camdeboo National Park and get a close-up view of the game in the Nature Reserve. There is also a beautiful drive to the top of Driekoppen (±10km) where you can have a picnic or stay overnight in a basic chalet.
MY FAVOURITE WALK IS to the Reinet House Museum Complex – thoughtfully and beautifully restored. No matter how often you’ve been there, there is always something you have not noticed before. You will also see the vine with the biggest girth in the world.
MY FAVOURITE antiques SHOP IS Reinet Antiques where I usually end up talking to the owner, Eira Maasdorp, with her vast knowledge of antiques. I every so often pop in at the art and craft shops, Die Smous and Windmill, to pick up a bargain, with a choice of old as well as new goodies.
MY FAVOURITE bird WATCHING SPOT IS near the shaw at the northern end of the Nqweba Dam in the Game Reserve.
IF YOU’RE HERE IN September, JOIN IN THE FUN AT the Karoo-Lus Festival. It is growing extensionally every year and has a myriad of stalls and artists, as well as music entertainment.
MY FAVOURITE ART MUSEUM IS the Hester Rupert Art Gallery. CHECK OUT how it has been wonderfully restored.
MY FAVOURITE BUILDING IS Old Dutch Reformed Church, FOR ITS beauty and the largest church Africana Silverware collection in South Africa.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? A FUN OUTING IS Noah’s Arc Touch Farm which has been established recently where especially children from the cities can be intimately involved with farm and wild animals.
BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING IS have coffee at Chocolat with Niki and Raymond and watch the traffic go by in Church Street.
WHEN MONEY’S NO OBJECT, I LIKE TO have a day out at Samara Game Lodge, about 45 km out of town, to do a game drive and have a divine brunch in the veld.
THE MOST UNUSUAL THING I SEE HERE IS Charles Kingwill’s motorized train, leaving from old Nieu Bethesda station to the top of Lootsberg Pass where you can enjoy your picnic basket. The train ride takes about 2 hours there and back. Please book ahead of time!
MY FAVOURITE WEEKEND GETAWAY IS the Addo Elephant Park some 200km from Graaff Reinet. This is a worthwhile trip, especially when the orange trees are in flower.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN fossils, the places to visit are the Lex Bremner Collection in the Old Library Museum or the renown Rubidge Collection on the farm, Wellwood, belonging to Robert Rubidge.
I Love Graaff Reinet Because you can’t help but be affected by the euphoria created by the whole community.
Useful Graaff-Reinet Links
- Graaff-Reinet Attractions
- Graaff Reinet Accommodation
- Graaff Reinet Hotels
- Eastern Cape Hotels
- Eastern Cape Accommodation
The Owl House: +27 (0)49 841-1733
Chocolat: +27 (0)49 892-5947
Hester Rupert Art Gallery: +27 (0)49 892-2121
Cold Stream Restaurant: +27 (0)49 891-1181
Polka Restaurant: +27 (0)87 550-1363
Die Kliphuis: +27 (0)49 892-2345
Camdeboo Restaurant: +27 (0)49 892-2161
Pioneers Restaurant: +27 (0)49 892-6059
Reinet House Museum Complex: +27 (0)49 892-3801
Reinet Antiques: +27 (0)49 892-4221
Die Smous: +27 (0)83 977 0165
Noah’s Ark Touch Farm: +27 (0)82 492-1253
Samara Game Lodge: +27(0)49 891-0558