In 1786 Governor CJ van der Graaff proclaimed the “Drostdy” (the Dutch word for a seat of local government) in the lush valley surrounded by lovely hills in the semi arid desert of the Karoo. The town was named after him and his wife Cornelia Rijnet. It was then the 4th proclaimed district in the Cape Colony.
Graaff-Reinet has been a farming community since the early years and Merino sheep, Nguni cattle, Angora goats and ostriches are mainly farmed with. Today the town’s economy is still largely reliant on the farming activities.
Camdeboo National Park
This spectacular national park of 19 457 hectares virtually encloses the town of Graaff-Reinet. It is home to 43 mammal species and at least 225 species of birds, 5 species of tortoises, 19 of Lizards and 10 of snakes. The park offers 6 picnic sites and 3 hiking trails.
The Valley of Desolation
Spectacular natural rock structures – hard dolomite columns rise 120 meters above the valley floor, formed some 100 million years ago. The area was declared a scenic National Monument in 1935.
The Drostdy, the Graaff-Reinet Club ( the 2nd oldest men only club in South Africa) Hester Rupert Museum, Old Library Museum, Reinet House and Urquhart House, both are museums, as well as over 200 residential National Monuments that line the green streets of this little town make it one of the most quaint and historically valuable places in South Africa. Coffee shops and good restaurants are open 6 days of the week and are within walking distance of one another and make dining and wine tasting a pleasure. ( Sundays are usually quiet)