South Africa Road Trip Stop – Graaff-Reinet

If you happen to be in the Great Karoo, and happen to be around a small town called Graaff-Reinet, make some time to stop here for a good break of 3 hours or more. The sleepy town, one of the oldest town in South Africa (4th to be exact), is known as the Gem of the Karoo.

Before we reached Port Elizabeth, we have decided to stop for a 3 hour break here (as many have recommended us), and check out specptacular view of Valley of Desolation in Camdeboo National Park and a few architectural great such as the Groot Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church).


On the way to Valley of Desolation on the right.

We first make our way to Camdeboo National Park, which is a short 14km drive from town. Most of the visitors, like us, head to the world-renowned Valley of Desolation, and its panoramic viewpoint.


Valley of Desolation


Valley of Desolation

The Valley of Desolation rock formations consist of dolerites which have formed jointed pillars over a period of 100 million years. Erosion of the softer sedimentary beds has left dolerite pillars which rise to heights of 90 to 120 metres. This national monument is breaktaking but sadly my pictures don’t do this view any justice.



Groot Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church)

If time is not an issue, also try to visit Obesa Nursery, which is the biggest private cacti collection on the planet and apparently it is a sight to behold. Imagine ten spikey hectares of cacti!

Rumour also heard that the oldest grapevine in the world is at Reinet House Museum, planted in 1878 and still growing.

So the next time I am closeby Graaff-Reinet, I will definitely head to Valley of Desolation during sunset (yes it opens till as late at 8pm!), visit more historical buildings, see the massive field of cacti and indulge  in some Karoo lamb!


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