Graaff-Reinet was established in 1786 and named
after the Governor of that time, van de Graaff and
his wife, Reinet. It was the fourth district in the
Cape to receive a seat of local government or a
Known to be a barren and untamed area, it became
the outpost of white civilization for trading by the
middle of the 1800s.
The typical 19th century rural town lies in the
horse-shoe bend of the Sondagsriver (Sundays River)
and is overlooked by the picturesque Sneeuberg
Surrounded almost completely by the
Camdeboo National Park,
where another wonder of nature, the Valley of
Desolation, keep silent memories of times gone by.
The first inhabitants of this area gave it the
name Camdeboo, meaning 'green valley'. Although in
the heart of the Karoo, there are mountains towering
over you and you hear the sound of water flowing
More than 200 buildings in Graaff-Reinet are
National Monuments. A horse and carriage ride offers
an introduction to the well maintained Cape-Dutch
architecture of this historic town.
We also recommend a visit the Reinet
House in Murray Street, the Old Residency in
Parsonage Street, the Old Library and the
Drostdy in Church Street.
Graaff-Reinet boasts many other tourist
attractions, including paragliding,
microlite flying, trout fishing, golfing,
horse riding, mountain biking and guided
There are many good hotels and guest
houses in Graaff-Reinet as well as a
beautiful campsite next to the Sundays
The little Karoo hamlet of Nieu Bethesda
is worth a detour. Time seems to stand still
and many artists have settled here. The
access road turns off the N9 (direction
Middelburg) and leads on a gravel road
through the picturesque Compass mountains
(2,502 m). Streets in the village are also
untarred. There are two shops, a coffee shop
and a couple of guesthouses.
Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe - ANC
activist, founding leader of the Pan
Africanist Congress and Robben
Island prisoner, was born here.
Andries Pretorius, Great Trek
leader and after whom Pretoria was
named, farmed in the district before
the Great Trek.
Gerrit Maritz, Great Trek leader
after whom Pietermaritzburg was
partly named, was a wagon-maker in