Khosa township, 4 museums and Desolation Valley

Desolation valley Travel Blog

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Children at the Khosa Grammar school.

In spite of the terrible warmth in our room last night, I must have gotten cold somewhere during the night, because when I wake up I am under my blanket. It’s 7.03 am when I hear someone sweeping the pavement in front of our room. Today breakfast is brought to our room at 8 am, so I’ve got a little time left to doze off again.

At nine mini-vans take us to the township of the Khosa, just outside Graaff-Reinet. The drive is so short, we could have easily walked the distance.

Our guide is a very nice guide who tells us a lot about the history and the way of life in the township.

Doing daily chores.
Up until 2004 there was no electricity, running water (except for taps in the streets) and sewage system in the township. Tourists are most welcome here and the people are extremely friendly, so taking pictures is no problem at all, but of course we always ask first. We walk up to a school where a couple of children stand near the fence. Less than two minutes later the fence is crawling with children who all want our attention. Walking through the streets we get a good picture of how people live here, 60% is unemployed. We are allowed to visit a kindergarten and, again, the children sing for us. There are many ramshackle houses in the Khosa township, but also some better ones. Even when people get wealthier, they will rarely move to place out of the township, but if they do, they will not sell the land the family has lived, because this is the home of their ancestors.

One rule to which visiting tourists must comply is that they can never give money to the people in the streets.

The thickest grape-vine in South Africa grows in the garden of the Reinet House.
The rule is: “Turn one Khosa into a beggar and we will never allow tourists in the township again”.

Around 11 am the sky starts to go dark and we see lightning in the distance, all of us hope that it will remain dry for a little while longer. The downpour in Moholoholo lies fresh in everyone’s memory. Ten minutes later we are safe, we are having coffee in the little living room of a local. The coffee is watery, but the story of the woman makes up for it. She lost one of her three children in a car crash and some people in our party who have lost a son of their own weep silently. According to the woman’s story Nelson Mandela (who was Khosa himself) did a lot of good for the people here. When the coffee and the stories are finished we are invited to have a quick look in the home of the next door neighbour and then the mini-vans take us back to the Obesa Lodge.

Trudy and I are going to have lunch at Number 8 Pub and Grill.

The Nqweda dam.
We walk, and doing so we are addressed by black man who was sitting on the curb when we approached him. I cannot understand what he is saying, so I ask him to repeat what he just said. When he does so, an older white man comes out of the shop we are standing in front of (he is almost running) and he says to the black man: “Los die touriste! Op jouw plaas!” meaning: “Don’t bother these tourists! Sit on your spot!” And the man does so, without a hint of an argument... We are a bit shocked by this, it feels like one of the remnants of Apartheid, which we have not experienced like this before. We talk the incident over during a delicious Calamari Salad lunch, and after that we go to the grocery store for some necessary things like bottles of water and such. And again a beggar comes up to us asking for money.

The Groot Kerk opens at 2 pm and we go in for a look around. The church is more beautiful on the outside than on the inside, and we are in sun again after approximately 15 minutes.

Graaff-Reinet from the view point, the Khosa township is in the upper left corner.

Next up is the Reinet House, which nowadays houses a museum dedicated to the South Africa of centuries past. There are all kinds of tools and utensils, from a flat-iron to a hearse and from a ladder to a streetlanternlighter from before the “electric days”. In the garden stands, and still grows, the thickest grape-vine in South Africa, which still grows grapes every year.

The second museum has a room dedicated to music (phonographs and instruments) and a collection of old firearms.

Museum number three is a house that has been brought back exactly to the way it was in the colonial days.

A Blauwaapje showing his characteristics.

The best part of the fourth museum is a beautiful, but not very large, collection of fossils that have been excavated in the region.

At 5.30 pm we leave by mini-van for sundowners at Desolation Valley. On the way we make a stop at the Nqweba dam, which has been foolishly built on a water well. Part of the road to Desolation Valley goes through a nature reserve, so we can do some game spotting on the way. We see some ostriches, kudus, springboks and klipdassies (very small and living on the cliffs, yet related to the elephant). The most exceptional animal we see today however, is the blauwaapje, a monkey that has bright blue testicles.

We arrive at a view point were can see Graaff-Reinet on one side and the Great Karoo on the other.

Desolation Valley.
On a clear day (not cloudy like today) you can see for 150 km. Desolation Valley is very beautiful in the sunset, but somehow I had expected it to be bigger. Nevertheless more than worth the visit.

The park closes at 8.30 pm and we make it with only minutes to spare. The mini-vans drop us at the Cold Stream restaurant. Yesterday we have made reservations for six persons, but now everyone is coming along. The prices aren’t too high, but the meat is a lot less tasty than at Number 8 yesterday. This is more nouvelle cuisine, the dishes are nicely decorated and all that. To me, taste is the important factor.

Around ten, everyone’s getting tired and we are calling it a day, and what a day it was...

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Children at the Khosa Grammar scho…
Children at the Khosa Grammar sch…
Doing daily chores.
Doing daily chores.
The thickest grape-vine in South A…
The thickest grape-vine in South …
The Nqweda dam.
The Nqweda dam.
Graaff-Reinet from the view point,…
Graaff-Reinet from the view point…
A Blauwaapje showing his character…
A Blauwaapje showing his characte…
Desolation Valley.
Desolation Valley.
This little modell is a natural.
This little modell is a natural.
He cant be that hungry??
He can't be that hungry??
The face of this man says he knows…
The face of this man says he know…
This is a Blauwaap in a more decen…
This is a Blauwaap in a more dece…
Desolation valley
photo by: Stormcrow