Graaff-Reinet is the oldest town in the eastern cape with a huge number of restored historical buildings.

The Gem of the Karoo, Graaff-Reinet is lying in a bend of the Sundays river and in the shadow of the rocky Sneeuberg. This mountain part off the 14 500 hectare big Karoo nature reserve with her valley of desolation. The reserve is connecting with a 1000 hectare dam. Close to Graaff-Reinet, in the shadow of the towering mountains lies Green Valley withes belongs trough the Camdeboo Conservancy national reserve, with a lot of creeks and a beautiful forest of trees and uncountable smaller plants. 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 everywhere. The secluded valley is blessed with forests and a great variety of plants. Amongst the rich birdlife is the black eagle which is preserved along with kudu, mountain rhebuck, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok and many more. There are 22 farms within the Camdeboo Conservancy, some of which offer holiday cosy accommodation. Hikers can find beautiful hiking trails. You can catch trout in the crystal clear rivers and lakes. Or go for a ride on horseback.

More than 200 buildings in Graaff-Reinet are National Monuments. A horse and carriage ride offers a introduction to the well maintained Cape-Dutch architecture of this historic place. It is also recommended to visit the Reinet House in Murray Street, the Old Residency in Parsonage Street, the Old Library and the Drostdy in Church Street.

It is also worthwhile to take a drive to the spectacular Valley of Desolation and to the Karoo Nature Reserve a few minutes northwest of the town. The 14.000 hectare reserve is well stocked with game. Particularly mountain zebra, wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok are numerous, but also many other mammal and bird species.

Graaff-Reinet boasts many other tourist attractions, from paragliding over microlight flying, trout fishing, fossile search, golf, horse riding and mountain biking to guided township walks.

There are many good hotels and guest houses in Graaff-Reinet as well as a beautiful campground directly at the Sunday River.

The little Karoo hamlet of Nieu Bethesda is worth a detour. Time seems to stand still here. The access road turns off the N9 (direction Middelburg) and leads on a gravel road through the picturesque Compass mountains (2502 m). Streets in the village are also untarred. There are two shops, one coffeeshop and, nowadays, a couple of little accommodation venues. Many artists have settled in Nieu Bethesda.

The Graaff-Reinet Bird Club, which was formed in 2001, meets once a month to travel to an interesting birding spot in the district. Many of these outings are to local farms. Nqweba Dam, when it has water, attracts many species of water birds. These come and go but, in the last six months of 2001, the following were sighted: Blacknecked Grebe, Avocet. Greater Flamingo, Maccoa Duck and many other species of the more common water birds.

You can also enjoy a game of golf at our beautiful golf course, do wind surfing from the mountain, go on numerous hiking trails, enjoy quad bike rides, go mountain biking, participate in a large number of sporting activities and much, much more.

Graaff-Reinet lies well within the great geological system known as the Karoo Supergroup. Rocks of the Karoo Supergroup were formed from mud, sand and clay washed by rivers into the low-lying marshy Karoo Basin that existed around 200 million years ago. Examination of the hills and koppies around Graaff-Reinet soon reveals the layered nature of the rock formations, reflecting their origin as banks of sand or clay laid down by stream action.

What may normally appear to be a desolate and barren Karoo landscape to the casual observer, is a treasure chest of information to the paleontologists, as this area is in fact one of the world’s largest natural graveyards. Exposed along the slopes of the Karoo koppies and in the sides of river channels are fossilized bones from the Age of Reptiles.

These animals lived in the prehistoric Karoo marshlands and in many cases their bones and skeletons settled into the mud and sand. Their skeletons were petrified as the layers of sediment gradually hardened into stone. They provide a unique insight into the animal life of the world long before the advent of birds, mammals and man.