Grahamstown, Frontier Country

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Grahamstown, Frontier Country

Grahamstown, Frontier Country

Once you've booked your accommodation in Grahamstown explore our pages for info on attractions and what to do in Grahamstown.

To most South Africans, Grahamstown, just off the N2 between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred, is the home of Rhodes University, and the host of one of the country’s longest running and major arts festivals - the National Arts Festival.

Regarded as the heart of the tourist route known as 'Frontier Country', Grahamstown, along with towns like Alicedale, Sidbury, Riebeeck East, Hogsback and Alice, is part of one of the most diverse ecological regions in South Africa, with thousands of hectares devoted to nature and game conservation, and a history seeped in forts, conflict and strife.

Grahamstown lies at the intersection of four very different climatic zones and its unpredictable weather is part of the excitement of the annual arts festival, which takes place in the middle of winter and sees thousands of people bundled in coats, gloves and scarves, descend on the city, whose broad tree-lined streets, gorgeous historical buildings, museums and plethora of churches - responsible for its ‘City of Saints’ label - are a throw-back to the time when Grahamstown was the second largest city in the Cape.

Grahamstown National Arts Festival
The Grahamstown Arts Festival, which during apartheid was a hive of political and protest theatre that never closed its doors to any race, colour, sex or creed, and imposes no censorship or artistic restraint on works presented at the festival, continues as a platform for experimentation.

The Fringe still serves as a great place to spot talent as theatre is not subject to a selection committee, as is the main festival. Grahamstown maintains its small-town Victorian charm, its over 100 schools and university earning it a reputation as an academic city. grahamstown is also a bird watchers delight. The Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, which lies just outside the city, and the Great Fish River Reserve, about 35 kilometres away, both provide a wide variety of bird life.

The Oldenburgia hiking trail, Grahamstown’s own hiking trail, is a two-day circular trail starting and ending in the city, and there are another two shorter walking trails in town - the Dassie Krantz and Gowie Kloof.

Additional Reading:

For more info about Grahamstown see our articles on the SA Travel News Blog:
Grahamstown, The 'Festival City'

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Grahamstown Reviews

average visitor rating: 4/5"What a vibe! When the students are in town expect the nightlife to be buzzing. The town has plentyof history too - check out the oldest postbox in the country. ..." - Alex, Port Elizabeth

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Featured Attractions in (or near) Grahamstown

Blaauwkrantz Nature Reserve

The Blaauwkrantz Nature Reserve was proclaimed for the sole purpose of conserving the habitat of the largest known anabantid fish (or Eastern Cape rocky - Sandelia bainsii), found in a few isolated areas in the Eastern Cape. The reserve lies roughly 22 kilometres south ... more information

Bucklands Private Game Reserve

Bucklands Private Game Reserve is a Stewart Family conservation initiative which was launched in 2007 culminating from the families deep love of the African continent's splendid diversity and natural beauty found within its wildlife and nature reserves. Terry and Michele's outdoor lifestyles and regular ... more information

Great Fish River Reserve

The spectacularly beautiful Great Fish River Reserve lies in the valley of the Great Fish River, between the town of Grahamstown and Fort Beaufort, extending eastwards all the way to the Kieskama River. It is a malaria-free area of enormous potential that has managed thus far to remain largely off the major ... more information

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Kwandwe, translated as 'place of the blue crane' in isiXhosa, flanks both the north and south banks of the Great Fish River, near Grahamstown, roughly two hours' from Port Elizabeth. The 22 000 hectare reserve is home to thousands of animals that include the Big Five, cheetah ... more information

Makana Botanical Gardens

The Makana Botanical Gardens, said to be the second oldest such gardens in South Africa and a national monument, lie adjacent to the Rhodes University campus in Grahamstown. They were established way back in 1853 and were the second garden established in the Cape Colony at the time. Given the beauty ... more information

Pumba Game Reserve

Lying in a particularly breathtaking setting that includes five of the world’s seven biomes, Pumba Private Game Reserve has a couple of major advantages: one, it is set in a malaria-free part of the Eastern Cape, and two, it provides really easy access to big game viewing, including the Big Five, making travelling to ... more information

Thomas Baines Nature Reserve

The Thomas Baines Nature Reserve is situated 12km from Grahamstown. The Thomas Baines Reserve is named after the famous 19th Century artist who left a valuable record of the rich diversity of fauna and flora in the region, including the now-extinct quagga. The nature reserve boasts an impressive herd ... more information

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Things To Do in Grahamstown

Day Safari at Amakhala Game Reserve

Where: Amakhala
How much (per person): R501 to R1000

Guided by experienced rangers on open Land Rovers, Amakhala Game Reserve offers a day safari aimed at providing visitors with an experience ... more information

Visit the Makana Botanical Gardens

Where: Grahamstown
How much (per person): R1 to R100

Head off to the Makana Botanical gardens on a week-day morning when few people are around. You can enter after passing through the Rhode ... more information

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Restaurants in Grahamstown

Haricots Deli & Bistro

Where: Grahamstown

The emphasis is on food at Haricots is simple, delicious and of very high quality and the wine list is one of the most comprehensive and discerning in Grahamstown. Situated at The French Quarter in ... more information

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Events and/or Festivals in Grahamstown

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On Holiday in Grahamstown

Grahamstown Map
Things to Do in Grahamstown
10 slightly off-beat historical attractions in Grahamstown
Grahamstown Accommodation
Grahamstown Hotels
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Visiting Grahamstown?
Also see Things To Do in Frontier Country or check out Things To Do in Eastern Cape to view activities by category, including watersports, sightseeing activities, arts & crafts and many, many more.

On you'll find plenty of South Africa accommodation options. We've also listed nearby activities for any town or city in which you plan to stay. And the big bonus is that you deal directly with the venues - no fees involved. With eight world heritage sites, a multitude of game reserves and national parks, over 1350 ha of national botanical gardens, and exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture, South Africa offers the traveller a unique and inspiring experience. Enjoy your stay in Grahamstown!
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