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Why did we hand pick Buiten Verwagten Guest House?

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  • National monument and second-oldest vineyard in town
  • Authentic Karoo living in a Victorian-style guesthouse
  • Right in the heart of town

Buiten Verwagten Guest House

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Price tier (pps): R200  R1500+

Child policy: All ages

In Graaff-Reinet


-32.2524, 24.5337


Buiten Verwagten owners Peet & Cheré van Jaarsveld go all out to ensure that their historic guesthouse lives up to its translation of ‘beyond expectation’.

After travelling through the scenic parched wilderness of the Karoo, you are enthusiastically welcomed to their little Victorian gem in Graaff-Reinet and are made to feel instantly at home through a combination of helpful hospitality and unobtrusive service.

Set a short way back from the street, the guesthouse is a grand white building with green window and door frames and thatched roofs, and has been declared a national monument. In contrast to the arid surrounds, the grounds are lush, manicured oases that provide cooling shelter from the heat. While walking around the shady garden, you will come across a thriving vineyard, which is the second-oldest in historical Graaff-Reinet, and a sparkling swimming pool that invites you to take a refreshing plunge.

Accommodation is homely and cosy, transporting guests into a Victorian era imbued with a warm Karoo atmosphere. Authentic wooden floorboards and antiques, wrought-iron bed frames, Persian carpets and classical artwork all contribute to this comforting feel.

In the main house, the Blue Room sleeps three guests in a Queen-size and single bed and has an en-suite bath and shower, while the opulent Victorian Room houses a grand brass Queen-size bed with en-suite shower. Continental and hearty cooked breakfasts are included in the rates for guests staying in these two rooms.

There are two self-catering suites situated in the tranquillity of the garden, offering very affordable, comfortable accommodation for either couples or families. Ebony & Ivory is an open-plan room with a Queen-size bed, a small but well-equipped country kitchenette and a cosy dining room table.

Guests will chuckle at the colourful, quirky décor of the twin-bedded Chicken Run, which can accommodate an extra two children in a pull-out bed.

Both self-catering rooms have patios, which provide easy access to the gardens and swimming pool.

A small room tucked away in the garden, Rose sleeps two people in a double bed and is ideally suited to weary travellers looking for a cosy and budget-friendly stopover point, with breakfast included.

In all the rooms, air-conditioning and ceiling fans deal a welcome blow to the Karoo heat, while electric blankets and heaters keep you warm during winter. A flat-screen satellite television and free wireless internet keep you up with the times.

On summer days, the lapa at the pool area is a perfect setting for a braai using the state-of-the-art facilities.

The guesthouse is conveniently positioned to explore Graaff-Reinet, which is the third-oldest town in South Africa and has more national monuments than any other settlement in the country.

For the outdoor-inclined, the surrounding expanses of the Karoo are filled with hiking trails, nature reserves, Bushman rock-art sites and adventures such as quad biking and horse riding. Your friendly hosts have a thorough knowledge of the area, so a few simple questions will set you well on your way.

Rates & Summary

Blue Room

In the main house
Sleeps 3 in Queen-size and single bed
En-suite bath and shower

Victorian Room

In the main house
Sleeps 2 in Queen-size bed
En-suite shower

Ebony & Ivory (self-catering)

Garden suite
Sleeps 2 in extra-length double bed
En-suite bath and shower
Patio leading onto swimming pool and garden

Chicken Run (self-catering)

Garden suite
Sleeps 2 adults in twin beds
Pull-out bed sleeps 2 children
Patio opening onto swimming pool and garden

Rose Room

Sleeps 2 in double bed
En-suite shower


  • For pricing detail, click on CHECK AVAILABILITY & BOOK ONLINE above


Bed and breakfast and self-catering options


Children of all ages are welcome.

Why Stay Here?

Built in 1840, Buiten Verwagten has been declared a national monument and is a lush oasis providing welcome shelter from the rugged wilds of the Karoo. Buiten Verwagten also has the second-oldest vineyard in the historical town of Graaff-Reinet. The Victorian-style guesthouse is set in a flourishing garden in the heart of town and offers authentic Karoo country-style living.


  • National monument and second-oldest vineyard in town
  • Authentic Karoo living in a Victorian-style guesthouse
  • Right in the heart of town

Things to consider Bringing

Sunblock, hat, walking shoes, swimming costume, swimming towels, binoculars for bird watching/game viewing.

Road Conditions

All the roads leading to the guest house are tarred.

Activities & Attractions

  • Solar-heated swimming pool

Nearby: Museums and historical attractions, art galleries, hiking trails, horse riding, quad biking, nature reserves, lawn bowls, township tour.


Accommodation & Hospitality

  • Communal lounge
  • Dining table
  • Verandah / patio
  • Air conditioning
  • Heater included
  • Bed linen supplied
  • Bathroom towels supplied
  • Hair dryer available
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Laundry service available
  • Ironing service available
  • Self-service tea and coffee available
  • No smoking indoors

Catering & Kitchen

  • Breakfast
  • Kitchenette
  • Braai area available
  • Fridge and freezer
  • Basic cleaning materials


  • Water supply good for drinking
  • Electric geysers
  • Eskom electricity

Leisure Amenities

  • Heated swimming pool
  • Satellite television
  • Garden

Business & Connectivity

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Good cell phone reception

Access & Convenience

  • Limited wheelchair friendliness
  • Child friendly
  • Pets allowed by arrangement
  • Off street parking
  • Nearest shops within 500m
  • Nearest fuel within 1km


  • Credit cards accepted
  • EFT accepted
  • Cash accepted




Karoo Heartland

Eastern Cape


The Karoo Heartland area lies in the Eastern Cape province, inland from the busy coastal city of Port Elizabeth. It embraces the eastern landscapes of the Great Karoo and, like the rest of this vast and semi-arid region, it is sparsely populated and little developed.

Rising in the north-west of the region are the Sneeuberg mountains. As their name suggests, the higher reaches are often draped in a blanket of snow during winter. Further east they link up with the Bankberg range. From here the landscape drops in altitude in a series of gentle slopes and rolling foothills.

For the motorist, the steep gradients are traversed via the winding roads of the Lootsberg, Naudesberg, Ouberg and Wapadsberg passes. In the south the landscape flattens out in a sweeping flat expanse, referred to as the plains of Camdeboo. In the eastern extremes the traditional Karoo scrub gives way to waving grasslands, tall slender aloes and tree-choked gorges.

Amongst the koppies and expansive plains are small rural towns like Graaff Reinet, Cradock and Nieu Bethesda. All of these are popular with visitors and well-known for their fine architecture and enduring charm. Graaff Reinet is best known for its magnificent stone church, the historic Drostdy with its colourful Stretch’s Court. It also has tranquil tree-lined streets sporting grand old houses and quaint cottages.

On its outskirts, the 19 000ha Camdeboo National Park almost encircles the town and protects the habitats and wildlife of the area. Within its boundaries stand the pillars of balancing rock that make the Valley of Desolation so intriguing. Nearby, the Sundays River flows into the Nqweba Dam.

A short drive north, at the base of the towering Kompasberg Peak, is Nieu Bethesda. Its main attractions are the Owl House with its artwork, and the mythical figures in the Camel Yard. The town is loved by seekers of tranquillity who come to escape in its rural charm and laid-back ambience.

In the east the busy, upbeat town of Cradock on the banks of the Fish River boasts a wealth of interesting architecture. The best preserved of examples form part of the well-known Tuishuise.

Each year canoeists converge on the area for the annual Fish River canoe marathon.

Cradock’s natural icon comes in the form of the Mountain Zebra National Park. This expanse was proclaimed in order to protect the endangered mountain zebra, which now number around 300 in the park. The variety of game includes cheetah, Cape buffalo and black rhinoceros. The landscape varies from rugged mountains to plateau grasslands.

Throughout the region there is a cultural richness, and strong traditions still survive in the towns and on the farms. With an extensive network of gravel back roads that lead to hidden farms and stunning views, the Karoo Heartlands is ideally suited to the explorer. It’s also home to large game lodges, 4x4 trails, hiking and mountain bike routes, fishing, and birdwatching.

Look out for

Camdeboo National Park – on the outskirts of Graaff Reinet, this 19 000ha park protects some of the low-lying plains as well as the mountainous terrain in the area. It contains the Valley of Desolation. Within its boundaries are 12 species of large game and 225 bird species. There are several hikes, varying from a 1.5 km stroll to a day walk and an overnight trail. 4x4 enthusiasts have a choice of either the Koedoeskloof or Driekoppe trails. There is a tented camp and some campsites are being developed in the park. 

The Valley of Desolation - is formed by the extraordinary geology of the mountains that create impressive dolerite rock pillars, which are easily seen from various viewpoints along the walking trails. En route to the main viewpoint a toposcope stands on a small koppie, from where there is a magnificent view of Graaff Reinet.

Mountain Zebra National Park – situated 12km from Cradock, the park nestles amongst the craggy heights of the Bankberg mountains in the far eastern area of the region. Proclaimed in 1937, the park embraces undulating plains and plunging valleys where the Cape mountain zebra was saved from extinction. Accommodation is in the restored Victorian homestead at Doornhoek (that sleeps 6), or in cottages and campsites at the main rest camp. There is an à la carte restaurant, a shop selling basic commodities, a fuel station and a swimming pool. Day visitors are welcome.

The Owl House – this iconic house was created by eccentric artist Helen Martins. It became famous by being featured in world-renowned playwright Athol Fugard’s film, ‘The Road to Mecca’. Obsessed with the interplay of light, colour and reflection, martins covered walls, ceilings, windows and other surfaces with bright paint and glass. The effect is amplified by the many candles, lamps and mirrors she collected. The Owl House is rated a premier ‘outsider art’ destination and attracts 15 000 visitors annually, from all over the world. It’s open to the public daily (except Christmas day). Opening times: 09h00-17h00 in April to September / 08h00-18h00 in October to May.

Blouwater Railway - for a rail journey with a difference give Charles Kingwill a call to book a seat on his rail van, which trundles up the 11km-long Lootsberg Railway Pass and back. He can take a maximum of 9 passengers per trip. Trips run from Monday to Saturday between 09h00 and 15h00. It takes 2 hours, and you can take your own picnic and refreshments.

Tuishuise –mention Cradock and the first places that come to mind are the historic Tuishuise. Even if you’re not planning to stay overnight (although you should), make a point of exploring Market Street where they are situated. 

When to go

To Do

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