Graaff-Reinet Our Story Route
Graaff-Reinet Our Story Route

Our Story Route

Our Story Route Information

The stories of the past have been part of Karoo life for thousands of years; from the time of the Bushman hunter-gatherers and the Khoikhoi herders, to the wandering pastoralists of Dutch, German and Huguenot descent and the English settlers who arrived on these parched plains during the 18th and 19th century.

These stories and legends were handed down from generation to generation, told under the clear Karoo night skies around the fire and this tradition continues unbroken. So if you want to hear them; take a dram of the locally distilled Withond and sometimes a pinch of salt and stand closer to the fire…

You may hear of the legendary Chief Hykon; Koebaha or Lord of the Inqua Tribe; rich in cattle and men. Or maybe Koeriekei; the Bushman leader who rebelled against the Dutch farmers and famously shouted from a cliff-top to his pursuers: "You have taken all the places where the Eland lived. Why do you not go back to where you came from, there where the sun sets?"

You may hear of Coenraad de Buys who rebelled against both the Dutch and the English. He stood nearly 7 ft tall and is reputed to have been the first white man across the Vaal River. He was a hunter, an outlaw with a price on his head, a cattle raider, an instigator of wars and also a warrior in the service of African allies and the lover of two African queens.

You may hear of the eccentric French naturalist and explorer Francois de Vaillant who roamed these parts in the 1780’s with a Chacma baboon called Kees that was his faithful travelling companion, guard, food taster and court jester. He became infatuated with a young Gonaqua woman called Narina and named in her honour the rare and beautiful bird known as the Narina Trogon.

He was also witness to the spectacular Springbok migrations across the Great Karoo. These so-called Trekbokke are said to have taken three days to pass by and to have drawn “princes and paupers to witness and hunt the great herds that would arise out of the dust trampling all before them, before melting away with the onset of summer rains…”

If the dram of Withond and the fire-side chats of the past have whet your appetite then be sure to read Karoo by Lawrence G. Green, Plains of Camdeboo by Eve Palmer and Karoo Keepsakes I & II by Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit.

And for one of Graaff-Reinet’s authentic “stoepstories” or a bit of local gossip then look up that storyteller around the corner and take up that offer of tea and koek…and remember just don’t tell anyone I told you!

For Guided Tours in and around Graaff-Reinet contact:

Camdeboo Adventures
Karoo Connections


Jacobs Donkey Cart rides
Festival of Lights
The Owl House

For further information visit Nieu-Bethesda Tourism web site


History of the Cemetries

For further information visit the Aberdeen Tourism web site

Our Story Route Map

Our Story Route Points of Interest

  • Aberdeen's cemetery is a true resting place. Well kept and shaded by Cypress trees, the area is a veritable walk through the history of the town. Looking at the many gravestones and memorials, one can see the periods of illness and those war that...
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • The Bethesda Arts Centre’s New Year’s Eve Festival of Lights and Lantern Parade is a truly inspiring community event run every year by the Bethesda Arts Centre. A powerful symbol of hope and beauty, the parade crosses cultural and...
    Phone: 049 841 1731
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  • Helen Martins lay ill in bed one night with the moon shining in through the window and considered how dull and grey her life had become. She resolved there and then, that she would strive to bring light and colour into her life. That simple decision...
    Phone: 049 841 1733
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  • Karoo Connections has provided superior guided tours, safaris and transfers since 1996. Historic Graaff-Reinet Tour - Camdeboo National Park Game Drive - Valley of Desolation Sundowner Tour - Township Walkabout - Nieu Bethesda & Owl House Tour...
    Phone: 049 892 3978
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  • The Royal Block was constructed during the early 20th century, quite possibly as housing for the labour force during the construction of the Van Ryneveld’s Pass Irrigation Dam in the 1920’s.
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • M R Sobukwe, founder of the Pan African Congress was one of the towering pillars of black nationalism in South Africa. A gentle, humble, deeply religious man with a brilliant intellect, he could be described as one of the main sources of...
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • Oor die stook van withond (brandewyn) op Graaff-Reinet in vervloë dae word wyd bespiegel en geromantiseer. Oor min plaaslike aktiwiteite van weleer word soveel aannames gemaak. Dat dit ‘n betekenisvolle tydperk in die bestaan van die...
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • Graaff-Reinet grapes have a high sugar content and are thus ideal for the making of brandy. During the Great Depression and illicit trade in illegal distillation grew up in the town. Withond is still made at Reinet House for tourism purposes where...
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • Graaffrikaans More Info
    Visitors to our little dorp always ask me what the predominant language is, but here in Graaff-Reinet we have an efficient way of mixing our languages to give expression to emotion and sommer just because it sounds lekker.
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • Guided tours offered to Graaff-Reinet’s main highlights that includes the Valley of Desolation, Game Viewing in the Camdeboo National Park & Umasizake TownshipTours. For nature lovers there are a variety of guided nature walks in the area...
    Phone: 049 892 3410
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  • September marks the 110th anniversary of the Battle of Paardefontein which took place in the hills of Mount Camdeboo, bringing an to the pursuit of Commandant Johannes Lotter, believed to be one of the last Boer rebels. No visit at Mount Camdeboo is...
    Phone: 049 892 4248
  • Near the roadside between Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet, in the middle of the veld, lies an old cast iron bedstead. This according to legend is the grave of a woman who took ill and died while the family were trekking by ox-wagon through the Karoo.
    Phone: 049 892 4248

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