- Eastern Cape
- Riebeek East
A Town That Time Forgot
Riebeek East lies just 40 km east of Grahamstown in an area known as “frontier country”, a part of the Eastern Cape that is made up of the quaint little towns of Sidbury, Alicedale, Riebeeck East and Hogsback, with Grahamstown at the centre.
It is affectionately known as the “town that time forgot” and is one of the tiniest towns in the country that you could visit. It is quite possible to drive right past the town without noticing it, except for the Riebeek East skyline which is recognisable by the local Church steeple! Were it not for the growing interest in eco-tourism in this part of the country and its proximity to both Grahamstown and the Addo Elephant National Park, Riebeek East would remain in obscurity!
If you do find yourself visiting this quaint little town, enjoy the hospitality and the incredibly beautiful landscape which offers biking and hiking trails and is home to A number of ancient sites and rock art are found in the area and tours through this ‘valley of ancient voices’ can be arranged.
Riebeek East offers Guest House, B&B and game lodge accommodation in and around the vicinity.
Things to do and see
- Riebeek East Dutch Reformed Church
- Rock Art Archaeological Tours
- Mountain Biking & Hiking Trails
- Mosslands Two River Trail
- 1820 Settlers Monument, 34 km
- Shamwari Game Reserve
Riebeek East receives approximately 372 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during Summer.
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 19˚C.
When the need for a local church arose, the Dutch Reformed Church established the village of Riebeek East on the farm Mooimeisiesfontein - meaning pretty girls fountain - the home of the famous Voortrekker leader Piet Retief.
The British government turned down an initial request in 1826 but the second in 1840 was granted and in true South African tradition, a town grew up around the church. The farmers in the area had formerly trekked roughly 130 km to Uitenhage for Nagmaal (communion services).
The village of Riebeek was established in 1842 and was named in honour of the first Dutch Governor of the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck. Its name was amended to Riebeek East in about 1881 to differentiate it from its namesake in the vicinity of Malmesbury.
For over a century the unwritten law of Voortreker leader Piet Retief that no liquor should be sold in the small village of Riebeeck East stood firm. However, this came to end in 2008 when the Knoesen family relocated from the Salem district to this scenic small village and opened a bar.
The family operate the Kleingenoeg Mini Market – the only shopping outlet in this tiny village to which the bar, liquor store and a restaurant is linked. The village’s post office also resides here. The arrival of the Knoesens in this sleepy village brought to an end the locals’ thirst for a cold one. However not everyone was pleased with the idea of a liquor outlet at first and especially the fact that this would go against Piet Retief’s will.
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