Someone very close to my heart has recently announced that she might be moving to Makhanda for studies (She technically said Grahamstown, because that’s what we all still call it for now, sorry) and I was like, “well then I’m coming, for a visit at least”, but like what is there even to do there?
Since I had no idea I asked my friend Amelia to weigh in, she does travel writing and knows a thing or two about what to do…. here is what she had to share.
Port Elizabeth families have plenty to enjoy right here in the friendly city. But, if you want to get away for a day or a weekend, Grahamstown is a perfect choice. It only takes about 1.5 hours to get there from PE and has things for the whole family (even those with very little ones) to see and do.
And, since it’s now officially been renamed to Makhanda, you have to go there again. You know…just to say you’ve been to Makhanda. That’s how it works, right?
So, here are a few things to do if you’re in Grahamstown…sorry, Makhanda…for a day or three:
The Kwantu Private Game Reserve
You get to go on game drives and see the Big 5 (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalos) in their natural habitat. In addition to these, you may also spot caracal, giraffe, wildebeest, porcupine, and loads more at Kwantu. And a game drive is a great way to keep busy little ones completely entertained by the sights and sounds around them. Photos on game drives also make for Instagram gold! Book by calling 042 203 1400.
The Albany Museum Complex
This complex consists of five main individual museums for families that enjoy exploring the past, present and future. These are the Natural Sciences Museum, the History Museum, the Observatory Museum, Fort Selwyn, and the Old Provost military prison. Then, there is also the Drostdy Arch and the Old Priest’s House. From seashells to sanctions; the museums in Grahamstown will keep your family busy for ages. And, because it’s a small town, you can walk from one to the next (depending on how little the legs accompanying you are). Please note: The museums are closed on weekends and public holidays. More reason to take a midweek break!
Makana Botanical Gardens
So, when you TELL kids that you’re visiting botanical gardens, don’t expect much in the way of thrilled expressions. 1) They probably don’t know what a botanical garden really is, and 2) visiting a garden may sound boring for littler ones. So, embellish a little to create hype. Situated between the Natural History and Cultural History, Bots (a national monument since 1994) has exotic and indigenous species of plants, and around 150 different bird species. But, also, the gardens are just scenic, relaxing, and have plenty of room for the kids to run around and burn some energy. Sigh, energy. I remember it well…
The Provost Prison
We mentioned the prison under the museum complex, but, it must be said that a prison is a pretty cool place to visit without the stress of actual lawsuits. This one is old (like, 1853 old) and has been restored to be as eerie and exciting as anyone would expect a 19th century prison to be. The cells can even be rented out as accommodation during the Grahamstown Arts Festival. That’s cool, guys.
Manley Flats Community Trails
Just 15km outside Grahamstown, there are a number of MTB trails. The shortest is an easy 3km long, and the longest is about 19km long. So, depending on the age of your children and how energetic you’re all feeling, there’s a trail to suit you. These can be a stunning way to spend a day with the family. This is a community initiative and, along the 13km trail, you can even stop by some of the local farms for the farmers to show you around. All of the money raised by visitors to the trails is used to help emerging farmers to start up a viable business.
Accommodation in Grahamstown
Getting the most out of Grahamstown means spending some time there. Find guesthouses, B & B’s, lodges, and even hotels on the SA-Venues.com website.