Graaff-Reinet, 'Gem of the Karoo', is situated in the Eastern Cape, in a crook of the Sundays River. It is a place of big skies, sheep and game farms and a delightful collection of historical Cape Dutch architecture. Accommodation in Graaff-Reinet ranges from self-catering cottages to characterful hotels - in short, there is something for everyone.
Originally established in 1876, Graaf-Reinet is steeped in history. Not only do stories of the South African (Anglo-Boer) War carry a particular resonance here, but the surrounding Karoo landscape is a treasure trove of fossils, documenting primitive human species as well as ancient reptiles, birds and other animals.
The town is situated in the heart of the Great Karoo, a vast semi-arid region in the interior of South Africa. The region is ideal for stock farming, which indeed is one of the pillars of the Graaff-Reinet economy. Game farming, as well as Angora goat and Marino sheep farming are all lucrative businesses in the area. Tourism is the other economic pillar.
Graaff-Reinet is extremely attractive to tourists not least because the town is so picturesque. It is known to have a rich collection of historical Cape Dutch architecture and the largest collection of heritage sites in a single town in South Africa. The history of the 4th oldest town in South Africa is curated across 4 museums in the town, such as Reinet House which displays a combination of photographic memorabilia, firearms, art and fossils.
Another point of interest is the Camdeboo National Park which surrounds Graaff-Reinet. Camdeboo is home to the famed Valley of Desolation - a collection of weathered dolerite pillars. The Uitkyk peak is a popular launching spot for paragliders and microlites while hikers and photographers are spoilt for choice at ground level.
The park is home to diverse birdlife, including the rare Black Eagle, as well as numerous mammals such as the rhebok, duiker and klipspringer.
Alternative activities include mountain biking, taking a walking tour through the local township, horse-riding and trout fishing in one of the nearby rivers.
All this and more make Graaff-Reinet accommodation a great choice for holiday-makers.
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