The town is one of those places that is not high on the average travellers list, but rather a place en route to somewhere else, usually Grahamstown. This however is a rather misguided conclusion to draw about this quaint town and travellers are learning to stop and stay awhile in the village whose name means “peace”. Some may push on to Grahamstown and take day visits to Salem to explore its hills and peaceful surrounds, a true Botonists delight with a number of unusual forms of flora and fauna, hiking trails in the area are quite popular with the outdoor enthusiasts!
Salem is a little 1820 Settler village and is popular for it array of historical buildings, in particular the Methodist Church. All the stone Churches are worth a visit and always open! Many of the original cottages built by the Settlers are still in use and Salem claims to be home to the oldest cricket pitch in the country dating back to its first match in 1844.
Accommodation in Salem includes self-catering cottages and Country Lodges, while Grahamstown just few minutes down the road will leave you spoilt for choice with every type of accommodation available.
Things to do and see
- Kariega Game Reserve
- Salem Methodist Church
- Salem Cemetery
- Assegai Hiking Trails
- Mosslands Two Rivers Trail
- The Provost Prison, 17 km
- Albany Museum Complex, 17 Km
- Grahamstown Farmers Market, 18.5 km
Salem receives approximately 596 mm of rain annually with rainfall throughout the year.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 15˚C and 28˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 5˚C and 22˚C.
There are daily flights into the Port Elizabeth Airport, approximately 132 km’s away via the N2 and into the East London Airport, approximately 182 km away via the N2 and R72. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
Hesekiah Sephton and his party of 344 settlers founded the village of Salem in 1820. The name Salem, taken from Psalm 76, means 'peace', and the little town received this name after one of the Xhosa raids on the town.
During one Xhosa raid on the village the church was packed with refugees, one of the men, Richard Gush, was a man of peace and heartily tired of his farmlands being ruined and his stock rustled, of his own accord, he put his gun aside and walked out to confront the warriors. Their commander knew Gush and was not surprised by his boldness.
The chief strode forward, bristling with skins and feathers, spears and clubs and the two men greeted each other. The chief explained that his warriors were hungry.
Gush returned to the church and despite the protests of his comrades took back to the warriors 15 huge loaves, an armful of tobacco rolls and a dozen pocket knives. He handed over these presents to the Chief, then protested about Xhosa thefts of the settlers' cattle. The warriors patiently listened to a sermon about the wrath of God. Then, one by one they shook hands with Gush, took up his presents and went back into the wilderness, leaving the cattle to run loose in the bush.
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