In the area surrounding Grahamstown pineapple farms and nature reserves are found.
Port Alfred, South Africa
58km/36mi south of Grahamstown, at the mouth of the Kowie River, is Port Alfred (pop. 25,000), founded in 1820 and later named after Queen Victoria's second son. It is now a popular holiday resort, with magnificent beaches round the town, facilities for all kinds of water sports and a beautifully situated 18-hole golf course.
Bathurst, South Africa
40km/25mi southeast of Grahamstown on R 67 is Bathurst (pop. 5,200), a little town founded in 1820 in what is now one of the main pineapple-growing areas in South Africa. The fruit was brought to South Africa by Dutch settlers in the mid 19th C, and pineapples were first planted in Natal in 1860. When a farmer from Bathurst saw the fruit at his barber's in Grahamstown he took some plants home and discovered to his surprise that they flourished on his land. South Africa now takes the eighth place among the world's pineapple-growing countries.The main features of interest in Bathurst are St John's Church (1832), the oldest surviving Anglican church in South Africa, and the Pig and Whistle restaurant (1831) in Kowie Road, still a popular rendezvous.
Salem, South Africa
20km/12.5mi south of Grahamstown on R 343 is the little town of Salem, which preserves a number of settlers' houses dating from the first half of the 19th C. Although the name Salem means "peace", the settlement was frequently besieged by the Xhosa in the Frontier Wars. During one of these sieges, in 1834, a settler named Richard Gush, who as a Quaker was opposed to any kind of violence, had taken refuge, along with his wife and children, in the Methodist church. One day he left the village, unarmed, to negotiate with the Xhosa. When he asked what they really wanted they replied that they were hungry. He went back into the village and brought them bread, tobacco, tomatoes and some pocket knives, whereupon the Xhosa called off the siege.The former church is now a school.
Kowie Nature Reserve and Bathurst Conservation Area
Kowie Nature Reserve lies 5km/3mi north of Port Alfred (access from the Bathurst road). A hiking trail (a 2-hour walk) runs through the reserve.Adjoining the reserve is the Bathurst Conservation Area, through which runs a "canoe route", starting from Port Alfred and running 20km/12.5 up the Kowie River (canoes can be hired).
Thomas Baines Nature Reserve
15km/9mi south of Grahamstown on R 343 (signposted to Salem) is the Thomas Baines Nature Reserve (area 1,000ha/2,500ac) home to a variety of game, including rhinoceros and the rare Cape buffalo. The reserve can be explored only by car on a 15km/9mi long track; walking is prohibited.
Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve & Sam Knott Nature Reserve
Settler's Express Steam Train
A steam train, the Settlers' Express, runs between Bathurst and Port Alfred, through beautiful scenery with extensive pineapple plantations.
Summerhill Pineapple Farm
On the road from Grahamstown to Port Alfred, near Bathurst, is Summerhill pineapple farm, with a reconstructed Xhosa village (exhibition and sale of Xhosa crafts).
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