Established in 1786, Graaff-Reinet is the country’s fourth oldest magisterial district and has been named the “Gem of the Karoo”.
The town is recognized as the home of magnificent examples of Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo architecture, and has over 220 heritage sites (more than any other town in South Africa!). The past is preserved in five 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.
This lovely town is the only one in South Africa that is virtually surrounded by a nature reserve, Camdeboo National Park, and is situated on the banks of the Sundays River. The lush gardens, parks and tree-lined avenues are in sharp contrast to the semi-arid vastness of the surrounding Great Karoo. Visit Graaff-Reinet for a true Karoo experience.
Listen to the silence, breathe in the aged earth and the Karoo bossies (which conjure up the taste of Karoo lamb!), and gaze at a startlingly clear horizon that seems drawn at the other end of the earth.
The richness of pre-dinosaur fossils in this region is world-renowned.
Aberdeen Situated in the scenic plains of Camdeboo, Aberdeen was founded in 1856 and has been declared an architectural conservation town. The town is a veritable repository of architectural styles including Victorian, Georgian, Karoo, German, Gothic Revival, Russian, Art Nouveau and Flemish Revival. This town offers the authentic Karoo lifestyle experience. Nieu-Bethesda It will feel as though you have time travelled to the past when visiting the beautiful village of Nieu-Bethesda nestled at the foot of the magnificent Compassberg, only a 30 minute drive from Graaff-Reinet.
The town was first established as a mission station in 1875. It is renowned for its sacred Bushman rock art sites, fossils and the Owl House, which is a museum dedicated to the eccentric artist Helen Martins. This quaint village has no fuel stations, banks, ATM’s or credit card facilities, so fill up your tank and wallet beforehand.
Middelburg Middelburg lies in the middle of its surrounding towns, approximately 100km from all. Surrounded by Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Steynsburg, Colesberg, Richmond and Hanover, it is no secret as to where the name "Middelburg" came from. The town and surrounding areas are rich in history from the Anglo Boer War. The adjacent Grootfontein College of Agriculture was originally established as a military camp and training centre for British troops. Today the college offers a two year Certificate in Agriculture and a three year Diploma in Agriculture, both accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee.
Colesberg A sheep-farming area spread over half-a-million hectares, greater Colesberg breeds many of the country's top merinos. It is also renowned for producing high-quality racehorses and many stud farms. The town boasts many buildings that were built in a blend of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture with ceilings of reed, and yellowwood timbers, and others that display a range of designs reflecting the changes of 19th century building. Originally plots were pegged out and sold on the site of the town to fund the building of the Dutch Reformed church. The town has a thriving tourism industry.
There is a hotel, a motel, and many guest houses and B&Bs around town, most having restaurants and pubs on-site. Several guest farms operate in the district offering accommodation with 4x4 trails, mountain bike trails, game hunting (mainly springbok, wildebeest and blesbok) and bird watching.
Three major service stations with on-site shops, restaurants and toilet facilities are located on the N1 at Colesberg. Small industries are located in town, including a sheep abbatoir, a factory which makes a range of furniture to order and a panel beater. The Doornkloof Nature Reserve is located near Colesberg on the confluence of the Orange and Seekoei Rivers.