Open Africa
Open Africa

Frontier Country



Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Belton - Milking Parlour Cottage and Hiking Trails
Belton Farm is situated just 20km from Kenton-On-Sea and offers self-catering accommodation in a unique three bedroom gu...

Charlotte's B&B
Charlotte's B&B offers accommodation in five bedrooms each with its own bathroom. Facilities in rooms: Televisio...

Eagle's Nest B&B
Eagle's Nest B&B is on the sunny side of Grahamstown. Ideally situated near schools, the city centreand in walking d...

High Corner Guesthouse
High Corner Guesthouse is one of Grahamstown most loved accommodation landmarks. This elegant guesthouse is centrally s...

Holly Lane Cottage
Holly Lane Cottage offers self-catering accommodation in a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom. The cottage has a loun...

Jenny's Guesthouse
Jenny’s Guesthouse is situated in a quiet residential suburb in Grahamstown. As you enter the tranquil surrounding...

Monastery Guesthouse
Benedictine monasteries are never without guests, and the guesthouse at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery continues a Bene...

Peppertree House B&B
Pieter and Laetitia welcome you to Peppertree House, which is located in the historic town of Fort Beaufort and named af...

Wylie's Dairy Farm - Self-Catering Farm Stay
Established in 1947, Wylie's Dairy Farm is the oldest producer/distributor dairy in South Africa. Upper Gletwyn was the...

Whethu Backpackers
Located in the student town of Grahamstown, Whethu Backpackers is a colorful accommodation establishment with friendly a...

Assegaai Trails
Assegaai Trails is an ideal venue for weddings and conferences, team-building and leadership courses. It boasts  ac...


Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Grahamstown Ghost Tour
Grahamstown, being an isolated historic town, has several sites associated with the paranormal. Brain conducts tours of...

Smiley Face Tours
With our knowledgeable guides and drivers, we'll make any trip memorable. Our trips go virtually everywhere in South Afr...


Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Makana Edutourism
Why Edutourism? Because: You deserve a rewarding, engaging holiday; You can make a difference in the community; Yo...

Albany Museum
Albany Museum consists of three museums: The History Building: This building features the history of the British Settl...


Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Makana Tourism
A hauntingly beautiful region - arguably the crucible of South African history - Frontier Country is a vibrant mix of al...

University of Fort Hare
Founded in 1916, the history of Fort Hare is closely associated with that of the liberation movements and many of its pe...


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The Frontier Country has a very interesting history linked to the continual conflict the area experienced in South African’s early history, dubbed the Frontier Wars. This scenic landscape around Grahamstown was once the setting for Britain’s longest colonial war and has more forts than the rest of the country combined. During the Apartheid era many of the most fervent opponents of the system were born and bred in the Eastern Cape.

The area is well known for its range of game and nature reserves and the new trend of returning farmland to its original condition is on the rise. A number of farms have been transformed by converting farmland and stocking it with game such as the Big Five, zebra, giraffe, kudu and other indigenous antelope. Frontier Country is also one of the most biologically varied regions in South Africa, with many of the biomes still unspoilt and spectacular. The thousands of hectares devoted to wildlife and conservation are returning the region to its original condition of natural abundance.

Grahamstown is at the centre of this malaria-free game and wildlife area and is located at the nexus of four biomes.  The four major weather systems of South Africa also come together in the area, giving Grahamstown its ‘four seasons in one day’ reputation, but it still has a moderate climate throughout the year. The Great Fish River Reserve is located near Grahamstown, as are Open Africa’s partner safari lodges and renowned private reserves in the area – Shamwari and Kariega Game Reserve. The species diversity in this reserve is the largest and most impressive in the country. Birding is diverse in the area too, with an array of endemics and special bird species that will attract even the most earnest of bird-watchers.

Reasons to visit:

Visitors who enjoy the great outdoors and are interested in adventure activities, will easily fall in love with the area.  Activities on offer range from mountaineering, zip-lining, abseiling and hang-gliding, to paragliding. An aerodrome with micro-light aviation is considered to offer the best sky diving in the country. Hunting (including bow hunting), fly-fishing and birding contrast with donkey cart rides, hiking, river rafting, elephant and horse riding and game drives. The area boasts world class accommodation facilities in some of the finest game reserves the country has to offer, and the true rural hospitality will make your stay memorable.

A vital source of revenue, entertainment and tourism is the Grahamstown Arts Festival, one of the oldest and largest festivals in the world. The Science Festival is also held annually in the Settlers Monument, where scholars from all over South Africa meet to experience science at its most cutting-edge.

With over 100 declared heritage sites and more forts within 150km radius of Grahamstown than the rest of South Africa combined, the area acts as a historical hub for the Eastern Cape. It is the battle ground of the Frontier Wars, where the Xhosa and the British fought for over 100 years. The oldest post box in South Africa (on the corner of Worcester and Somerset street) is still in use today, and the oldest licensed pub in the southern hemisphere is also found in the area - The Pig and Whistle in Bathurst.

The Camera Obscura at The Observatory Museum:

Henry Carter Galpin, a watchmaker and jeweller, was the original owner of the Observatory Museum building.  He designed the building between 1850 until his death in 1886 to house his special interests in optics, astronomy and the measuring of time.

The topmost tower has one of last two existing Victorian Camera Obscura in the world. The other is in Bath, England. Using a design of lenses and a mirror in the revolving turret of a darkened room, this clever device projects a beautiful full colour panorama of the activities in the town onto a flat surface.

Below this, in the Meridian Room he was able to measure the difference between local time and South African standard time, a difference of 14 minutes later. A Telescope Room nearby houses an 8 inch reflector telescope. Initially installed in the rooftop observatory, this gave the house its name. The Observatory Museum building was bought and restored by De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. to commemorate the first diamond, identified in Grahamstown by Dr. WG Atherstone. 

Bedford Garden Festival:

When: 23 - 25 October 2015

Where: Bedford, Nxuba Local Municipality, Amathole District

Contact Person(s): Catherine Knox - General Enquiries, Media & Marketing

Cell: +27 82 932 8864



The Garden Festival is a touring adventure. With our comprehensive map you will discover stunning scenery on quiet country roads, visiting open gardens en route. Meet the gardeners and pick their brains – local know-how is based on generations of experience.  Choose from masses of home-grown plants and gardening necessities, meander through the craft stalls at The Country Fair and stock up on locally-produced pantry-fillers in our Food Market. 

*Information correct at the time of publication - prospective event participants are advised to contact the organisers for any possible updates.



The history of Grahamstown:

Grahamstown was originally the capital of the Eastern Cape Province. Founded in 1812 by Colonel John Graham, the intention was that it would serve as a military outpost on the frontier, which suffered frequent wars with the Xhosa. 

Colonel Graham made the choice for the site of Grahamstown while resting under a tree at the place where the headwaters of the Kowie (originally ‘Qoyi’ in Xhosa) river unite. The town was a bedraggled trading town serving the needs of the military garrisons stationed there to provide safety for the citizens during the battles that erupted frequently in the area.  The town was established on the land of an abandoned farm Rietfontein, with the burnt out farmhouse refurbished to serve as the officer’s mess.

Grahamstown was the administrative capital of the district and attracted a diverse group to the town. One of the leading businessmen that inhabited the town was Piet Retief, later a Voortrekker leader.

In 1819, a famous fierce young chief, Makana, led an attack on Grahamstown with 10 000 Xhosa warriors that nearly destroyed the town. Against all odds, only 200 British soldiers managed to defeat this massive army, as the women helped gather gun powder and smuggled it to the soldiers in the Fort.

After the battle, the British Administration called for settlers to come and stabilise the area under British rule. The following year, the 1820 Settlers arrived and Grahamstown once again became the centre of business for many of these settlers, and became the first place that all four main ethnic groups of South Africa came into contact with each other. At its peak, during these early years, there were 174 ivory traders and even more animal skin traders based in Grahamstown.

As a result of this continuous struggle between the various ethnic groups, the government decided to try and separate black and white from each other. As time progressed the white people followed a policy of occupying the land and forcing the local black population into a submissive role. By the middle of the 1800's, all land that the Xhosa had previously lived on was out of their control. By 1910 when the South African Union united the British and the Boer, only the white population were allowed to vote.

By 1830, the town had grown considerably and had the beginnings of a High street and many of the fine historical buildings seen today had already been constructed. The town was the second largest in South Africa and had its own weekly newspaper, a commercial hall, a municipality, a library and horticultural society. All this was achieved while frontier wars with migrating tribes continued. This historic past can still be experienced in the broad, tree-lined streets of the town centre, with the architecture and the Cathedral being the most stark reminder of a simpler time.

Grahamstown has some of the finest schools in the country and what is regarded as the best, small university in the country. Rhodes University puts out the highest amount of research per student in and has the highest pass rate for undergraduates in the country. As a result of the predominance of young people and educational facilities in the town, there are a wide variety of sports on offer as well as interesting guest lectures, talks and workshops that are conducted throughout the year.

Grahamstown saw its first school opened in 1849 and has since continued to grow in this vein and is known as the city of schools today. The original importance of Grahamstown as a frontier town dwindled when the new railway, acting as a link between the coast and the interior, bypassed it. There was little by way of industry in the town, and so social and commercial life became influenced more by the school and university calendar than industry.

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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

Part of Coastal Route.

South Africa - Eastern Cape

South Africa - Eastern Cape

The Frontier Country has a very interesting history linked to the continual conflict the area experienced in South African’s early history, dubbed the Frontier Wars. This scenic landscape around Grahamstown was once the setting for Britain’s longest colonial war and has more forts than the rest of the country combined.


heritage observatory-museum wildlife birding eastern-cape grahamstown


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