There’s plenty to do and see in and around our town this Festive Season. Here, Makana Tourism’s Prudence Mini walks you through some of the options.
Check out astronomical sights
The Astronomical Toposcope on Gunfire Hill in front of the 1820 Settlers’ National Monument shows the cardinal points and positions for the rising of certain constellations.
The Monument also offers a great view of the City right through to Makana’s Kop in the heart of the township.
For more information, contact the Monument on 046 603 1134.
You can also experience the topmost turret of the Observatory Museum. Here, you will find the only genuine Victorian camera obscura in Southern Africa – an unusual way of viewing the City. While you are at the Museum, don’t miss out on some of the other historic treasures such as the Meridian room, Diamond Gallery, open clock-works, fine Victorian furnishings and a relaxing garden.
For information on visiting times, contact the Observatory Museum on 046 622 2312.
Explore the Spooky City by night
Create a unique event for you and your friends and family by exploring our 200-year-old city with a spooky history walk. You will visit spots believed to be haunted – from old jails and cemeteries to historic buildings – and will experience the chilling history through entertaining ghost stories. Book your haunt-and-history walk with Brian Jackson at: email@example.com
Discover the heart of Makhanda through its heritage sites
- Ntaba eZono (Makana’s Kop): A steep and rocky slope of which many locals refer to as Ntaba eZono or ‘Mount of Sin’.
- St Philip’s Church to see the sculpture of the Black Madonna – the Mother of Jesus.
- Egazini: This is the site where the Battle of Grahamstown took place in 1819.
- The Lobengula graves: This grave site of the Zimbabwean Lobengula family can be found in Fingo Village. For more information contact King Lobengula Lodges & Tours: grahamhotel.com/finding-king-lobengula
- The World War 2 soldiers’ graves that can be found east of Newtown.
- Bully Kohl’s grave: This grave site is located just south of Phola Park informal settlement, towards the Xolani township. Many locals claim the school children’s revolution actually started in Makhanda. Bully was a casualty of the state of emergency here.
- The old Gaol was opened in 1823 and used until the 1970s. Public hangings were conducted inside this building until 1862. A black flag would indicate that the death sentence had been carried out within the prison walls.
- When open to the public, visit the Albany Museum which was founded in 1855. Together with its Research Department, the Museum has six buildings under its umbrella, namely, the Natural Sciences Museum, History Museum, Observatory Museum, Fort Selwyn, Drostdy Arch and Old Provost – a military prison built in 1838.
Contact the Museum for more information on 046 622 2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nearby the Old Provost, is a small number of gravestones of military men who died in the Frontier Wars.
- The Drostdy Arch, which was built as an entrance to military grounds, was designed by Major Selwyn and built by the Royal Engineers in 1842. It is now the entrance to Rhodes University.
- Some historic buildings of Makana were built with materials such as stone and stained glass that came from all around the world. A fine example is the Town Hall –a specimen of Gothic Revival architecture, completed in 1882. It has five different types of stones that can be connected to five different countries.
- Another example is the Church in Riebeeck East which holds special significance in the History of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) in South Africa. The church bell was cast in 1861 in Dublin, Ireland; the clock was manufactured by Henry Carter Galpin of Graham’s Town in 1873; and the locks on all the doors in the church were manufactured by J Carpenter at his factory called Summerford Works in New Road, Willenhall, England – (Source: Kruger, L. R. (1981-09) Thesis (MTh) -Stellenbosch University, 1981).For more information or to arrange a visit email the Church’s caretaker Gavin Blamire on email@example.com.
- Take a walk through the flora and fauna up to Fort Selwyn on Gunfire Hill near the Monument. It was built in 1835-36 to protect approaches to town and guard its water supply.
- Makhanda also has the oldest letterbox in the country. Go ahead and write a letter to someone special and post it in South Africa’s oldest postbox on the corner of Worcester and Somerset Streets.
Let a City of Saints Church Tour inspire you
The City of Saints has more than 50 churches that you can visit to help you explore the culture and heritage of Makana. Here is a glimpse:
The Cathedral of St Michael and St George is home of the Anglican Diocese of Makhanda and is situated at the intersection of High Street and Hill Street. The interior of the Cathedral will tell a story of many generations that had a hand in building this iconic structure – taking a period of 160 years to complete. Each builder from the same family used their own architectural style and each style is visible to the eye.
The Cathedral is well known for its grand size, stained glass windows (that are priceless, though valued at R20 million), and the Cathedral’s impressive bells and clock.
Visitors to the Cathedral also have fun finding special mice. Yes, mice! An artist signed his plaques by carving mice in the wood. Visit the Cathedral to find these mice and read their story.
Sing your way through your church tour with some history on church organs…
The Cathedral has the only pipe organ suitable for concert performances in Makhanda and has also been used by Rhodes University for training its organ scholars. It was built by Bevington of London in 1860.
Nearby, the Commemoration Methodist Church organ was installed in 1875 and is the third-largest pipe organ in South Africa. This building has impressive Gothic Revival style architecture worth seeing.
The Wesley Methodist Church, at the corner of Market and York Streets has the first and only organ in South Africa to be proclaimed as a National Monument. This pipe organ is in regular use and was ordered during the mid-1830s by Lt Colonel Henry Somerset for his home in Graham’s Town (Makhanda).
Book your Heritage or Church Tour with Graeme Holmes on 083 271 0279 or Holmesey27@gmail.com
Experience the great outdoors
Go hiking or mountain biking through the trails in the indigenous bush, kloofs and grassland of Makhanda and its surrounding areas.
Hot on the trail with fun outdoor activities is Manley Flats Community Trails. These trails accommodate walking, trail running and cycling and are open every day throughout the year. Day fees are R30 per person (R15 for children) and a year fee with unlimited use is R100 per person. Trail permits and safe parking are available behind Radway Green B&B on the R67 tar road, 25km from Bathurst and 15km from Makhanda. There is no need to book, just arrive and have fun! Do remember to bring your own water.
You can contact the Manley Flats Community Trails on 072 151 0519 or visit their Facebook Page by searching: Manley-Flats-Community-Trails.
Here are more trails to keep you busy right into next year
Oldenburgia Day Trail: The hiking club has marked a one-day trail on the city’s southern commonage. The 17km circular and clockwise route begins and ends at the top of Mountain Drive, not far from the toposcope. The start is just a few kilometres from the town centre and can be reached by car from the caravan park off Grey Street. For more information, you can visit the club’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/oldenburgiahikingclub
Two River Trail: https://tworivertrail.co.za/
Assegaai Trails: http://www.assegaaitrails.co.za/hiking/
Cannon Rocks Nature Trail: https://cannonrocksvillage.co.za/nature-trail#start
Alexandria Trail: https://www.sanparks.org/tourism/activities/hikes_walks_trails.php
Waters Meeting Nature Reserve (Bathurst): Ranger/Manager: 079 496 7979 or 076 423 3492.
Albany Trails (Near Port Alfred): https://www.facebook.com/albanytrails/
More outdoor things to do
Visit a Nature Reserve: The Thomas Baines Nature Reserve is just 15km from Makhanda on the Kenton-on-Sea Road (R343). There’s so much to do here – game drives, canoeing, hiking, camping, picnics, bird watching, sailing and bass fishing at Settlers Dam. Look out for Cape buffalo, eland, red hartebeest, bushbuck, kudu, oribi, aardvark, warthog, vervet monkeys, genets and numerous small mammals.
Upmarket Private Game Reserves such as Shamwari, Pumba, Kariega, Lalibela, Kwandwe and Bucklands offer the luxury safari experience.
For those with limited time and looking for a value for money experience, Pumba Private Game Reserve offers a wonderful Day Safari package. For more information, visit: www.pumbagamereserve.co.za
African Safari Lodge is another piece of paradise. The Lodge and its Deluxe River Suites are perched on a low ridge in the most beautiful location along the upper Kariega at the crown of two rivers, with breathtaking views. It offers routes for self-game drives, bush walks and hiking, pre-arranged boat cruises, fishing, and lookout points, where one can view zebra, buffalo and a wide variety of antelope, among many other animals. For more information, visit: www.africansafarilodge.co.za
For more eco-adventures, check out the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency’s Nature Reserves guide: https://bit.ly/36WpiHI This guide is packed with ideas for family and eco-adventure holidays. You can experience the great outdoors from Great Fish River to Wild Coast nature reserves. The guide has comprehensive information on well positioned campsites, hiker’s huts, forest huts or farm-style lodges that offer the very best in affordable and comfortable nature escapes.
Look up more Private Game Reserves and their offerings by visiting: www.grahamstown.co.za
Have you ever tried birding? Makana Botanical Gardens in Makhanda is a birdwatcher’s haven. The gardens are also a great spot for an outdoorlunch and picnic and are open everyday from 8am to 5pm. For assistance, contact the Rhodes Campus Security or Grounds staff on 046 603 8111.
Another phot0-perfect picnic spot in Makhanda is Grey Dam near Makana Resort or Jamieson Dam off the Highlands Road (not much water because of the drought, but still a beautiful spot).
Get a hole in one for breakfast, lunch and golf at the Belmont Golf Club. It’s only 7km out of town, and an ideal family outing or round of golf with friends. The Club is located on the Belmont Valley Road. Take a drive and discover the most awesome views and hospitality. Young, old – The Belmont Golf Club caters for everyone. For more information contact: 082 807 3234 or www.facebook.com/belmontgolf
Upcoming event at the Belmont Golf Club – Hospice Golf Day
Who will be drinking from the trophy this year? Come out and support Hospice Grahamstown with a great game of golf on 05 December. After the tournament, Santa will be arriving on a golf cart for the Belmont Buddies Christmas party afterwards. Amazing prizes will be up for grabs sponsored by Makana Brick.
Check out more golf day events by visiting:www.facebook.com/belmontgolf
Virtual shopping in Makhanda – buy local arts and crafts at the touch of a mouse
The National Arts Festival has given us an opportunity to browse the National Art Festival’s Village Green online – a directory to talented crafters and their beautiful wares. Check it out: www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/virtual-green-home/
After you have done a bit of shopping, kick back and relax with the virtual National Arts Festival. Yes, this fantastic online showcase of national and international work is not over yet! It is still available for you to enjoy with the virtual Fringe programme being added to every day.
Makhanda’s online market, TRADE at Home is another platform to shop for Christmas gifts or just to treat yourself. No need to leave your house to brave the shops – or even dress up for shopping. You can safely purchase local goods from the comfort of your home. At this online market, you will be able to browse a wide selection of beautiful things and tasty treats from individual traders in Makhanda and surrounding areas. The festive season for TRADE at Home opens on 25 November 2020 For more information visit: www.facebook.com/TRADEatHome
Now speaking of tasty treats, have you ever tried to shoot marshmallows out of a vacuum cleaner? Or better yet, make rockets from common household items? This year, SciFest Africa has an action-packed virtual programme of fun science activities. The programme is available until the end of March 2021.
On 9 December at 9.30am, the whole family can watch Dr Graham’s Blow-up Science Show as he explodes his way through the chemistry and physics of things that go bubble, boom, bang and occasionally catch on fire. Expect loads of audience involvement, laughs, exciting experiments and brain-rattling explosions! Register to watch the show here: bit.ly/2J1gZCi
You can find daily updates to SciFest’s online programme on: www.scifest.org.za
Take a look at these Festive Deals
Makana and its surrounding areas has a variety of restaurants and eateries that cater for different tastes.
Visit the Pothole and Donkey restaurant in High Street during the festive season. They will be running specials throughout December and January.
onday: Buy one and get one free burger special – All day special
Tuesday: Half price on pasta – All day special
Wednesday: R20 Gin Cocktail Special – 4pm-8pm
Friday: Half price on selected cocktails – 4pm-8pm
Saturday: Bring the kids for the ‘Kids Eat Free’ promotion (One child under 12 eats free for each dining adult)
Sunday: Roast of the day and a glass of house wine or local beer or soft drink for R99
Catch live music at the Pothole and Donkey on the following Fridays this year: 28 November, 5 December, 12 December.
You can also visit the Royal St Andrew’s Hotel’s Paper Nautilus Restaurant and Highlander Pub in Port Alfred during the festive season and take up their awesome deals.
Paper Nautilus Restaurant specials at the Royal St Andrew’s Hotel – Get a continental breakfast which includes toast, jam, coffee and juice for only R105 per person. Midweek only. Or get sparkling wine and a full continental buffet and enjoy any one of the hot breakfasts (toast, Jam, coffee and juice for only R145 per person). Served Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
Highlander Pub specials at the Royal St Andrew’s Hotel – On Wednesday, get 12 prawns with rice or chips with lemon or garlic butter. Top up with another 12 prawns for R90. On Sunday, get a three-course Sunday lunch for only R175: Creamy butternut soup, bread or crumbed mushrooms and tartar sauce, roast beef or roast chicken or roast pork served with rice, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and gravy and mango cheese cake with a complimentary cup of coffee. And on Friday, enjoy seafood platter deals (Platter for 1: R175; Platter for 2: R325). Deal includes a glass of KleineZalze Chenin Blanc.
For more information about the Royal St Andrew’s Hotel, please visit www.facebook.com/RoyalStAndrewsHotel or contact: 046 604 5400
Book your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Lunch and Dinner
Graham Hotel – Reserve your seat for the annual Christmas lunch special at the Pothole and Donkey Restaurant on 046 622 2366 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal St Andrews Hotel – Book your seat for a Royal St Andrew’s Hotel Christmas lunch and New year’s eve dinner at the Thistle Restaurant: Adults pay R450 and children under the age of 12 pay R225 or Paper Nautilus Restaurant.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Royal St Andrew’s Hotel with a buffet at the Thistle Restaurant: Adults pay R395 and children under the age of 12 pay R195.
For more information and bookings,visit www.facebook.com/RoyalStAndrewsHotel or call 046 604 5400.
You can turn your private or corporate year-end celebration into a royal affair with the gracious hospitality of the Royal St Andrew’s Hotel. Book your event for only R190 per person. This includes a glass of Robertson sparkling wine and a Christmas cracker per person. A comprehensive list of equipment and activities is available on request. This offer is valid until 20 December 2020. For more information on the offer, visit www.facebook.com/RoyalStAndrewsHotel or call 046 604 5400
You can also celebrate your special occasion with the Beach Hotel in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. You have a choice of lunch or dinner for 20 guests at only R4 750. The cost provides for the use of the Regatta venue which includes white linen, chair covers, silver underplates, cutlery, crockery, glassware and candelabras. A glass of bubbly on arrival. Cash bar with waitrons and barmen and a three course plated meal. For more information contact: 041 583 2161, email@example.com and visit www.thebeachhotel.co.za. This offer is valid until 31 December 2020.
Festive accommodation and spa deals at Royal St Andrew’s Hotel
Festive Family Package
3 Night Special – R4 800: Bed and Breakfast for two adults and two children under the age of 12, sharing in the Luxury Wing. A R600 voucher to be used at the Highlander Pub & Restaurant, The Thistle Restaurant OR the on-site CSpa Wellness by Camelot.
4 Night Special – R6 400: Bed and Breakfast for two adults and two children under the age of 12, sharing in the Luxury Wing. A R800 voucher to be used at the Highlander Pub & Restaurant, The Thistle Restaurant OR the on-site CSpa Wellness by Camelot.
Family fun activities at Royal St Andrew’s Hotel
While you play a round of golf or relax at the Spa, kids can have fun at the Royal St Andrew’s Hotel’s Kiddies Play Room. Other fun activities include taking a boat cruise along the Kowie River or a Horse Ride on the Beach. Port Alfred always has something for the whole family.
The Royal St Andrew’s Hotel Festive Family promotional offer is valid from 1-20 December 2020 and 3-20 January 2021. Terms and conditions apply.
Pamper yourself at Royal St Andrew’s Hotel
CSpa Wellness by Camelot Royal St Andrews Hotel has extended its trading hours for the festive season. Their operating hours are from 14 December 2020 until 8 January 2021, Monday-Sunday from 9am to 8pm. The spa will be closed on 25 December 2020 and 01 January 2021. You can enjoy refreshing and rejuvenating treatments and therapies.
For more information on the Festive Family Package and other things to do, you can visit www.facebook.com/RoyalStAndrewsHotel or contact: 046 604 5400
Visitors can book a weekend or holiday away to explore the Malaria-free Makana region and its amazing wildlife, nature and scenic beauty. Visit wwww.grahamstown.co.za for a comprehensive accommodation listing. All accommodation establishments are Covid-19 compliant.
Featured festive deals
137 High Street Guesthouse in Makhanda has a hot accommodation deal for guests, just in time for the festive season. Rates start at R700 per person and excludes breakfast. Get a breakfast add-on for only R80 per person. Terms and Conditions apply. For more information on the special deal, visit: https://www.grahamstown.co.za/listing/137-high-street-28-2019-4c or call 072 803 7789 or 046 622 3242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
African Safari Lodge is offering special accommodation deals this festive season. Keep an eye out on the Lodge’s Facebook and Instagram Pages or www.africansafarilodge.co.za for more details.
Please note that there is always a risk attached to outdoor activities. The use of any of the trails mentioned in this article or Makana Tourism website is done at your own risk. Please exercise caution and familiarise yourself with the necessary skills for safe walking, running or cycling on the trails especially during unpredictable weather conditions and when coming into contact with wildlife such as baboons or snakes.
Information in this article may change without notice.