Head for the heartland and the beauty, space and tranquility of South Africa’s Karoo on your next visit. A great place to start it all is in the beautifully restored town of Graaff-Reinet, South Africa’s fourth oldest, and at the heart of the Great Karoo surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park. It features magnificent examples of Cape Dutch architecture, and over 220 heritage sites. The past is preserved in four extraordinary Museums whilst the surrounding area includes much to attract the hiker, photographer and lovers of fauna and flora. The famous and awe-inspiring Valley of Desolation, as well as the peak, Uitkyk, which attracts paragliding enthusiasts from all over the world who come to share the thermals of the vast Karoo skies with the resident Black Eagles, are within easy reach. Fascinating villages and hamlets amidst historic farms still owned by settler families, include Nieu Bethesda, home to The Owl House and its sculpture garden, the fascinating home one time of Helen Martins, as well as the Bethesda Arts Centre. Some very well known South Africans come from this interesting town including Lord Somerset, Robert Sobukwe, Beyers Naude and Dr. Anton Rupert.
Happily too for the traveller, there is a wonderfully hospitable, comfortable and inviting small property in which to stay and base yourself whilst exploring all of what this magical part of Southern Africa has to offer. The Andries Stockenström Guesthouse owned and managed by convivial hosts Gordon and Rose Wright, offers comfortable accommodation and warm hospitality in the heart of the historic town. Gordon is the author of the recently published book ‘Veld to Fork’ slow food from the heart of the Karoo and discerning travellers will enjoy the property’s signature ‘Gordon’s Restaurant’, which offers seasonal menus using ingredients from the guest house’s organic garden along with fine Karoo produce. The main building dates from 1819 and is a national monument, however every modern amenity is available to guests. The guest rooms are individually decorated and guidance is on hand at all times for you to enjoy Graaff-Reinet and the surrounding countryside ensuring a memorable experience at this peaceful oasis.
Head off then to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve, just to the east of Graaff-Reinet, set in 14,000 hectares of ancient land, home to cheetah, white rhino, cape buffalo, giraffe, mountain zebra, wild cats, sable, a host of antelope, birds of prey and a unique collection of fauna and flora, in the mountain setting of the Sneeuberg range, where guests are accommodated in restored Cape Dutch houses. Privately owned, the reserve has been rehabilitated for long term conservation and sustainable utilisation. In stark contrast to the arid plains and rugged mountains, guests are accommodated in superb comfort with attentive staff and every facility one could wish for. Designed to offer maximum enjoyment of a true bush experience with privacy and romance for couples, Mount Cambdeboo also offer family fun, and is ideal for young and old with unique experiences tailor made to every guest. This is all in an uncrowded private wilderness area, with great cuisine, fine South African wines and Karoo hospitality at its best . Rewarding game drives and trails make this an exhilarating property, combined before or afterwards with the Graaff-Reinet experience.
23 September 2013