where space, nature and heritage combine to offer
a Karoo tourism experience like no other place
TOWNS & ROUTES OF THE CAMDEBOO
The word Camdeboo, derived from the Khoi word meaning ‘green pool’ or ‘green hippo pool’ from the Khoi Cam-/Kam- ‘green’ and -debo(o) ‘pool, hippo pool’, has become synonymous with a sense of magical mystery. It was first popularised in Eve Palmer’s book “The Plains of Camdeboo”, published in 1966 and stretches from the south of the Sneeuberg to as far as Pearston and Murraysburg.
Surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park, Graaff-Reinet, the heart of the “Great Karoo” – Place of Thirst – is a boundless and mysterious area covered by vast livestock and game farms, where broad plains roll away to distant koppies and multilayered mountains that seem to touch the indigo sky. Listen to the silence, breathe in the aged earth and the Karoo bossies (which conjure up the taste of Karoo lamb!), and gaze at a startlingly clear horizon that seems drawn at the other end of the earth. Our clear night skies are studded with countless stars and huge bright planets; even other galaxies are visible with the naked eye, offering some of the best star gazing in the world. Fossils of some of the earliest forms of one-celled life have been discovered here, indicating that life has existed in this region for three billion years. The richness of pre-dinosaur fossils in this region is world-renowned.
We invite you to experience the magic of this area, discover eccentric little hamlets, sprawling farmsteads, the historical town of Graaff-Reinet and the nearby villages of Aberdeen and Nieu Bethesda, populated by warm and welcoming people that love to share their stories and legends.
GRAAFF - REINET
Established in 1786, Graaff-Reinet is the country’s fourth oldest magisterial district and has been named the “Gem of the Karoo”. The town is recognized as the home of magnificent examples of Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo architecture, and has over 220 heritage sites (more than any other town in South Africa!). The past is preserved in five extraordinary museums which hold collections of photographic memorabilia, firearms, artworks and fossils, tracing the story of the Karoo - and the town - from pre-history right up to the present day. This lovely town is the only one in South Africa that is virtually surrounded by a nature reserve, Camdeboo National Park, and is situated on the banks of the Sundays River. The lush gardens, parks and tree-lined avenues are in sharp contrast to the semi-arid vastness of the surrounding Great Karoo. Visit Graaff-Reinet for a true Karoo experience.
Situated in the scenic plains of Camdeboo, Aberdeen was founded in 1856 and has been declared an architectural conservation town. The town is a veritable repository of architectural styles including Victorian, Georgian, Karoo, German, Gothic Revival, Russian, Art Nouveau and Flemish Revival. This town offers the authentic Karoo lifestyle experience.
It will feel as though you have time travelled to the past when visiting the beautiful village of Nieu Bethesda nestled at the foot of the magnificent Compassberg, only a 30 minute drive from Graaff-Reinet. The town was first established as a mission station in 1875. It is renowned for its sacred Bushman rock art sites, fossils and the Owl House, which is a museum dedicated to the eccentric artist Helen Martins. This quaint village has no fuel stations, banks, ATM’s or credit card facilities, so fill up your tank and wallet beforehand.
7 TOURISM ROUTES TO EXPLORE….
Explore the gems of the Camdeboo area through our 7 Tourism Routes:
Heritage, Oral History, Palaeontology, Eco-Tourism, Kids Activities, Artists and Culinary….
Featured Listings (Click for More Info)
Fully-equipped air-conditioned one bedroomed unit, located in a quiet and secure area of the town.
Within walking distance to restaurants, shops, museums and other attractions. Ideal family accommodation.
Heather and Barry Vorster have only one problem with their accommodation, our guests enjoy the "home from home feeling" in each of our units that they feel so at home they don't want to leave.
Aan die Oewer Guest House
At Aan die Oewer Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Graaff-Reinet, we have created a haven for the travel-weary soul.
Allendale Guest House
The Murray family invite you to a relaxing stay at our Guest Cottage. Allendale is conveniently located about half an hours drive from both Graaff-Reinet and Nieu-Bethesda.
Glen Harry Game Reserve
Stay at the birth place of Andries Pretorius in a beautiful setting nestled between the Sneeuberg Mountains. Roam freely amongst the game, through 25,000 acres of vast plains, explore the fossil-lined river bed, or ascend to the peak of Spitskop to admire the splendid view with a sundowner.
These 3 beautifully restored Karoo cottages in historic Parsonage Street, with another in Cradock Street, are fully air-conditioned, have DSTV channels, safe off-street parking and are pet-friendly. They are within easy walking distance from good restaurants as well as the attractions of Graaff-Reinet.
Buitenverwagten Guest House
This Karoo Victorian-style home, in the shade of Jacaranda trees, was built in 1840 by a transport carrier and is now a national monument. Buiten Verwagten has a reputation of providing luxurious modern comfort.
Betty's Self Catering
Betty`s is just a stones throw away from central Graaff-Reinet. A mere 10 minute stroll will get you to most of the restaurants, museums, sight-seeing, banks and shops.Betty`s is in the main street running East to West and situated next to a Methodist Church's Manse and opposite the "Nuwe Kerk" and very close to the famous Dutch Reformed "Grootkerk" which is the central point of the town. Everybody has to pass this church when driving through Graaff-Reinet.
Middle Street Manor B&B
Situated in lovely quiet area, each room has its own patio with table and chairs overlooking well-maintained garden.Plenty of safe, secure off-street parking is available.
Karoo Rus offers luxurious self catering accommodation in central Graaff-Reinet, within 5 minutes' walk of most shops, museums, attractions and restaurants.
Damesfontein Guest Farm
This is a working Karoo sheep and cattle farm, with a family history dating back to 1838, when their ancestors first settled here. The fifth generation is still living and working on the farm. This same family offers a taste of farm living in historic surroundings in comfortable lodgings - the "Main Guesthouse" and the "Foremans House".