Travel

ROAD TRIP THROUGH GRAAFF-REINET

The vast size of the Karoo, which spans the provinces of the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape, is incredible and the never-ending roads from one town to another feel infinite. A road-trip from Sandton to Cape Town is probably one of the most magical experiences for any South African to get to see the textures and cultures that make up one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Graaff-Reinet, with a stable and rapidly growing economy, is one of those beautiful, old South African towns, located on route to Cape Town, which warranted a stopover on a two-day road-trip down to the Mother City. Being the oldest town in the Karoo and the fourth oldest in the country, Graaff Reinet is one of the most well-known country towns nationally. The town plays a key role within the Eastern Cape region and within South Africa.

“Against this background, Graaff-Reinet is booming – attracting many new businesses and home owners, and even the provincial authorities have recognised its relevance and strategic location, with many departments relocating here, including the Department of Roads.”

– Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Karoo, Wayne Rubidge

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With help from Trip Advisor, KarooRus, a self-catering accommodation located in the heart of Graaff-Reinet, came up as a suitable option for the one night stay – and what a jewel it was. The owners, former Gauteng residents, moved to Graaff-Reinet a few years ago.

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KarooRus, an original house of yesteryear converted into a handful of small apartments fitted with a kitchenette, bathroom and bedrooms is clean, well kept, with ample parking and a large outdoor space, is walking distance from some of the numerous restaurants and shops in the town.

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One of these notable eateries is Polka – a lovely little town restaurant with a great old-time vibe and contemporary menu, showcasing some great local produce, especially the lamb, which is sourced from the farms around Graaff-Reinet.

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The deco is rustic and the menu extensive, including a nice breakfast selection, pancakes, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, burgers, quiches and then a Polka’s Favourites section including a platter with artisan breads and cold meats, some beautiful lamb dishes and steaks.

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The meals are well priced and complimented by that small-town hospitality and friendly service. Portions are generous and have that home cooked feel to them. A trip through Graaff-Reinet should include a stop at Polka for a breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Already home to the Police Academy, a Hotel School and other important facilities, Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo Midlands is also the base of the Camdeboo Municipality. New proposals will see another two district councils join these, namely Baviaans and Ikwezi, which will see Camdeboo become one of the largest district councils in the country.

“With the re-opening of the famous Drostdy Hotel in 2015 after a R100 million upgrade, the town is set to grow substantially over the next decade. With a number of good schools, an active municipality and great tourism infrastructure, the number of visitors to the town is increasing exponentially.”

– Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Karoo, Wayne Rubidge

The many and varied attractions include speciality museums, streets full of national monuments and a thriving tourism industry supported by restaurants, shops and of course, the famous Camdeboo National Park, which surrounds the town together with some well-known game reserves – all catering for local and international visitors alike.

The National Park plays a very important role in the town and there is huge support and much interaction between the locals and the Park, such as fishing competitions at the Nqwebe Dam and bird and hiking club outings.

With clear night skies and a healthy climate – ideal for exploring the great outdoors, coupled with its historic interest, with 220 Heritage Sites, Graaff-Reinet is well positioned on a main route to the coast, being about two-and-a-half hours from Port Elizabeth and three hours from George.

“The property market in the town is also booming, with average house prices of more affordable homes increasing by as much as 30% over the last 24 months.”

– Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Karoo, Wayne Rubidge

The entry level for a two bedroom, historic cottage is currently in excess of R650’000, with a shortage of stock in this price range, particularly in what is called the ‘horseshoe’. Encircled by the Sundays River, the horseshoe is the older part of Graaff-Reinet and is popular with many newcomers looking to relocate to the town as it is within their price bracket and in walking distance of all shops and schools.

“Commercial investment opportunities are becoming scarce within the main central business district in Graaff-Reinet as these are limited to two streets – Caledon and Church Street.”

– Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Karoo, Wayne Rubidge

For the enterprising investor an opportunity exists to revive or re-fashion the former Graaff-Reinet Hotel, which has 20 rooms and is located on the main route through town in Market Square, which is said will undergo a major revamp at some point in the future. Priced at R3.2 million, the hotel is located on three erven and is not currently trading – some of the rooms are let out and the large dance hall is rented by a furniture company for storage.

“Graaff-Reinet has an abundance of historic homes and new on the market is an attractive property with business or residential use, in prime location in the upper end of Caledon Street. This is a popular area where a number of new businesses have relocated from the central business district of the town”.

– Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Karoo, Wayne Rubidge

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Time in Graaff-Reinet passes too quickly and all too soon its time to leave town in the early hours of the morning, past the majestic Dutch Reformed Church (Grotekerk) on route to Cape Town.

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