Graaff-Reinet Info, Eastern Cape, South Africa,, Accommodation, Activities

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Graaff-Reinet, South Africa


Graaff-Reinet … where history continues to live …

Established in 1786 Graaff-Reinet is named after Cornelis Jacob van de Graaf and his wife Cornelia Reynet, and is one of only two towns in South Africa that is named after Dutch governors.

Graaff-Reinet is situated in the Sarah Baartman region of the Eastern Cape and is a unique and historical town that is almost completely surrounded by Camdeboo National Park.  Neatly placed in a curl of the Sundays River, it is the fourth oldest settlement in the country.

Perfectly viewed from the height of the Valley of Desolation, the town provides a pretty backdrop to the plains of the Karoo.

Once a vast inland sea, the Karoo is known for its fossils and has a largely unbroken 50-million-year fossil record reflecting the evolutionary pathways and patterns of different animal groups through time.  A very popular and extensive collection of fossils collected over a period of 18 years is displayed in the Old Library Museum.

The town is filled with historical buildings, restored pre-Victorian homes and a collection of museums and galleries, each exceptionally charming in telling its own story.  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. 

Two famous people associated with Graaff-Reinet are powerful founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Sobukwe and billionaire Anton Rupert who helped restore and build his hometown.

Graaff-Reinet is filled with many talented artists which is clearly revealed in the colourful displays of paintings and pottery, along with many other artistic creations.  Graaff-Reinet is home to the Hester Rupert Museum of Contemporary Art which features famous South African artists.

One of the renowned landmarks in Graaff-Reinet has to be the Drostdy Hotel, which dates back to 1806.  Built on the original site of residence of the landdrost, the hotel has been restored to an excellent mix of old and new in what can only be described as classically charming.

Specialized tours are available in the town which will take you through the history and livelihood of everything that makes Graaff-Reinet the “gem of the Karoo”.  The tours include township walkabouts, fossil studies, rock art and Boer War Monuments, along with brilliant game viewing.

Graaff-Reinet bustles with tourists, farmers and locals in a lovely blend of friendliness and vibrancy – a treat to explore for many visitors …

Some of the things to do and see in Graaff-Reinet are as follows:

  • Valley of Desolation
  • Karoo Nature Reserve - plenty of game to be seen especially mountain zebra, wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok, among many more
  • Paragliding
  • Microlight flying
  • Trout fishing
  • Golf
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Star gazing

Visitors to the Eastern Cape town of Graaff-Reinet can choose from a variety of accommodation options that range from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury hotels. Whether you’re looking for a cozy B&B or a grand hotel, Graaff-Reinet has something to suit every budget and taste.

Graaff-Reinet is home to a variety of delicious restaurants. From upscale bistros and elegant eateries to family-friendly pubs and takeaways, you'll find plenty of places to eat in Graaff-Reinet. The variety of options makes this a great destination for anyone who loves good food.

See our business directory for a list of businesses in Graaff-Reinet.


Top 10 family-friendly activities in Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape


  • Camdeboo National Park: Begin your adventure at Camdeboo National Park, where families can enjoy scenic drives, picnics, and wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for the park's iconic Valley of Desolation, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding plains and rock formations.


  • Reinet House Museum: Step back in time at the Reinet House Museum, housed in a beautifully restored Cape Dutch building. Explore exhibits showcasing Graaff-Reinet's history, including period furniture, artwork, and artifacts, providing insight into the town's colonial past.


  • Observe Wildlife at the Karoo Nature Reserve: Embark on a safari adventure at the Karoo Nature Reserve, where families can spot a diverse range of wildlife, including antelope, zebras, and birds. Guided game drives offer an immersive experience, ideal for nature enthusiasts of all ages.


  • Valley of Desolation Hiking Trails: For active families, hiking trails in the Valley of Desolation provide an opportunity to explore the region's unique geological features up close. Marvel at towering dolerite columns and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding landscape as you traverse the rugged terrain.


  • Visit the Old Residency Museum: Discover more about Graaff-Reinet's heritage at the Old Residency Museum, housed in one of the oldest buildings in town. Exhibits cover various aspects of local history, including early settlers, indigenous cultures, and the development of the area.


  • Outdoor Adventures at the Nqweba Dam: Head to the Nqweba Dam for a day of outdoor fun, with activities such as fishing, boating, and birdwatching available for the whole family to enjoy. Pack a picnic and spend the day surrounded by pristine natural beauty.


  • Explore the Dutch Reformed Church: Admire the architecture of the Dutch Reformed Church, a prominent landmark in Graaff-Reinet dating back to the early 19th century. Take a guided tour to learn about the church's history and significance within the local community.


  • Karoo Highland Route: Embark on a scenic drive along the Karoo Highland Route, winding through picturesque landscapes and quaint towns. Stop at viewpoints along the way for stunning photo opportunities and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Eastern Cape countryside.


  • Horse Riding Adventures: Experience the beauty of Graaff-Reinet from a different perspective with a horse riding adventure through the surrounding countryside. Guided trails cater to riders of all skill levels, offering a unique way to explore the area's natural wonders.


  • Enjoy Local Cuisine: Wrap up your family-friendly getaway with a taste of authentic Karoo cuisine at one of Graaff-Reinet's local eateries. Sample traditional dishes such as Karoo lamb and koeksisters, immersing yourself in the flavors of this vibrant region.


For more information on Graaff-Reinet visit Eastern Cape Info.

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We hope you have found this an interesting read on Graaff-Reinet – should you wish to add any information or contribute an interesting Graaff-Reinet holiday experience please email us at:

References:  Graaff-Reinet Tourism


Graaff-Reinet Info



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