Barkly East, Eastern Cape Highlands

Barkly East, sometimes spelt Barkley East, lies nestled amongst the majestic mountains of the southern Drakensberg, between the villages of Lady Grey and Elliot. One of the highest lying towns in the country, elevated at about 5800 feet above sea level, it stands to reason that snow fall, that lovingly decks surrounding mountain tops at the very least, is almost guaranteed during winter. It is one of the main draw cards to the area and the reason that Barkly East is known as the Switzerland of South Africa.

The beautiful green valleys of this part of the world, surrounded by picturesque, rugged mountains, form the backdrop for a thriving sheep-farming industry. With its obvious scenic advantages, Barkly East also offers excellent trout fishing in sparkling mountain streams. There are some fine examples of San art in surrounding caves, and a breathtaking series of wildflowers, that seem always to be in season. These attract an array of birds that include the yellow breasted pipit, ground woodpecker and bearded vulture.

Township tours, the Barkly East museum, which packs in the town’s rich historical background, some wonderful hiking trails, and the chance of snow, are all good reasons to visit. If snowflakes fail to fall in the town itself, Tiffindell Alpine retreat is a wonderful escape throughout the year - children can bum board, and in summer there is a series of other activities that include grass skiing, mountain boarding, for the extreme sports’ enthusiasts, horse riding and mountain biking.

Travellers' Reviews

1 Review from travellers. All reviews are verified.

Verified reviewvery good

My husband and I went to Barkley East to take a break from all the stress of Johannesburg. It was so absolutely beautiful and epaceful and we were happy that there weren't too many things that we "had to" do and see. We could just enjoy the sound of birds and the smell of the barbeque.

Sarah Richardson (Johannesburg)

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