Graaff-Reinet is one of my favorite towns to visit for so many reasons. I spent a night in this beautiful Karoo Heartland town a week or so ago arriving on a Sunday afternoon for a Monday morning meeting. Getting up early the morning I headed out to one of the view points looking out over the town before doing a little sightseeing to still be back in time for my meeting.
Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and has more national monuments than any other town in the country. Over 220 of them in total. One of these is the Dutch Reformed Church (Groot Kerk) that looms up in front of you as you drive through town on the main road. The town has a number of very good museums and if you have to choose only one to visit I would recommend Reinet House where you will also find the oldest grape vine (planted in 1870) in South Africa.
Graaff-Reinet is also very in that it is surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park and it is here that visitors flock to see the magnificent Valley of Desolation. I got to go up to the valley the Sunday night on tour with local guide Chantelle Marais and if you want a fountain of information about the town and its surrounds, she's your girl. The word Camdeboo, comes from the Khoi word meaning ‘green pool’ or ‘green hippo pool’. In the Khoi language Cam-/Kam- means ‘green’ and -debo(o) ‘pool, hippo pool’.
I seriously need to come and spend a few days in Graaff-Reinet on a Sho't Left and give the town a good exploration.