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Founded in 1786, Graaff-Reinet is the oldest town in the Eastern Cape Province. Recognized for its Karoo architectural heritage, it is a historical farming village known for its Merino sheep, Angora goats, and ostriches.
Graaff-Reinet is bordered by the Sundays River and encircled by the Camdeboo National Park. Formed millions of years ago, the park is known for its springboks, red hartebeests, buffalos, bat-eared foxes, and Cape mountain zebras populations.
The Valley of Desolation attracts more than 100,000 tourists a year. The panoramic views of the valley allow visitors to marvel at 200 million years of volcanic rock formations.
To take in the Cape Dutch architectural legacy of Graaff-Reinet you can visit the Drostdy Hotel, the John Rupert Theatre, Reinet House, Urquhart House, the Anglican Church, Te Water House, the Old Library, and the Hester Rupert Art Museum.
The cuisine of Graaff-Reinet is recognized for its local sourcing and includes dishes such as milktart, koeksisters, rusks, and Karoo lamb and venison.
African Adventure and Out of Africa sell curios and crafts, such as wood masks and painted ostrich eggs, as well as Zulu, Ndebele, and Masai jewelry.
The Pierneef Museum features a collection of 32 colorful landscape paintings by South African artist JH Pierneef. The Hester Rupert Art Museum showcases modern art from more than 100 South African artists.
The best time to visit is in fall, April to May, or in spring, September to October.
Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) is the nearest major airport. It's 2 hours and 45 minutes to Graaff-Reinet by car.
From Cape Town, you can take Highway N1 to Beaufort West and then the R61 to Aberdeen, where you'll connect with the N9 to Graaff-Reinet. Travel time is 6.5 hours.
From Cape Town to Graaff-Reinet you can take the Intercape coach, which takes 7 hours and 15 minutes. Fares average R350.
The Drostdy Hotel features upscale accommodations in 19th-century cottages. Facilities include a spa, an art gallery, three swimming pools, and top-notch restaurants. The Karoopark Guest House is set on a historic plantation with guest houses on the grounds.
Historical Graaff-Reinet - Historical Graaff-Reinet, on the Sundays River, is enclosed by the Camdeboo National Park. The town features many examples of Karoo architecture and more than 220 heritage sites.
Camdeboo National Park - Camdeboo National Park draws visitors to its scenery. With breathtaking views of the Valley of Desolation, the park also showcases a variety of wildlife and flora.
The Valley of Desolation - the Valley of Desolation is a wondrous landscape, which is the result of 200 million years of erosion and volcanic activity.
Central Midas Taxi Company operates in Graaff-Reinet. Fares start at R10 with R15 per additional mile.
Car rentals average R280 per day.
The area around Church Square in downtown Graaff-Reinet has a variety of shops selling local artifacts, clothing, and wine.
Shoprite Checkers, Spar, and Pick N Pay are three chain supermarkets in downtown Graaff-Reinet that carry all essentials, as well as take out items. The town is relatively affordable. A quart of milk is R7.
Polka Cafe serves South African-inspired nouvelle cuisine with specialties such as Karoo lamb and bobotie, a curry with a baked egg crust. Entrees average R75 to R130. Veld to Fork features farm-to-table fare. Specialties include mixed grill dishes and barbecued springbok kebabs. Dinner averages R300.