Barkly East Tourist Attractions
Barkly East lies 120km/75mi southeast of Aliwal North, with which it is connected by rail, in the Witteberg, a mountainous region often dubbed the South African Switzerland. At this altitude temperatures fall below freezing point on an average of 81 nights in the year. In winter it is a popular skiing area, in summer a paradise for walkers and trout-fishers. This is also a sheep-farming area, and Barkly East is an important center of the woolen industry.The town, named after Sir Henry Barkly, was founded in 1874. Its high altitude presented the railroad engineers with considerable problems: the line between Lady Gray and Barkly East has an average gradient of 2.8% and eight hairpin bends.
Barkly East Surroundings
Barkly East is surrounded by the small towns of Rhodes, Maclear and Elliot.
65km/40mi northeast of Barkly East is Rhodes, which depending on the time of year, is a winter sports center (season March-September) or a base for walks in the surrounding area.Historic Rhodes village is also used as a base from which to fly-fish for rainbow and brown trout as well as smallmouth yellowfish. Other opportunities include viewing ancient rock art, rare alpine flowers, birds and insects.
From Barkly East a magnificent scenic road runs over the Barkly Pass to Elliot (pop. 11,000), 60km/37mi south. The region is famed for its Bushman rock paintings (notably on Denorbin Farm). From Elliot there are attractive excursions in summer to Lake Thomson, a reservoir situated in a nature reserve, and the Gilli Cullum Falls (18km/11mi).
Maclear (pop. 13,000), 110km/68mi east of Barkly East, was founded in 1876 and named after the astronomer Sir Thomas Maclear, who lived for 40 years on the Cape. There is skiing here in winter and good trout-fishing in summer.