Places to visit in Kariega

Posted on 16 April 2024 By Nelson Kalula

Kariega sits in the heart of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, offering a unique mix of old and new. Once called Uitenhage, it’s a place where big industry, like the Volkswagen factory, and the feel of a smaller community come together. Kariega tells its own story, where buildings from days gone by meet today’s energy. When you step into Kariega, whether you’re just passing through or looking to stay, you are immediately hit with its lively vibe. It’s a place that doesn’t just remember its history—it lives it out loud. With old Dutch and Victorian buildings all around, there’s always a sense of the town’s deep roots, even as it moves at today’s pace. Living in Kariega is all about enjoying the slow life away from the rush of bigger cities. Everything you need is close by, which helps everyone feel connected. There’s always something to do or see, making it hard to think about leaving such a charming spot.

Kariega is the perfect place for family living, lit up by the friendliness of neighbours. History here isn’t just for the books—it’s part of everyday life, inviting everyone to share in its tales and make their own. Kariega goes beyond just being a place on the map—it offers a look into what makes community life so rich, where each smile and sunset adds to the story of togetherness, heritage, and taking it easy.

1. Kariega Game Reserve

Kariega Game Reserve - Places to visit in Kariega (Uitenhage)

Picture: Facebook / @Kariega Game Reserve

Nestled in the Garden Route’s breathtaking landscapes, Kariega Game Reserve is a dream spot for wildlife lovers, offering a secluded, malaria-free adventure with the wild. Cradled by landscapes of hills, open fields, and lush river valleys, the reserve beckons adventurers to delve into the wilderness. Offering a variety of experiences like game drives, nature walks, peaceful river cruises, and canoeing adventures, Kariega allows for a personal journey into the essence of the wild, bridging the gap between guests and the natural inhabitants of this vast landscape.

Kariega stands out in the Eastern Cape for its stunning scenery and diverse landforms. The Kariega and Bushmans rivers add to their charm and help support a rich mix of life. Visitors can explore this magnificent place in many ways, whether riding in comfy 4x4s with knowledgeable guides or trekking through the bush on guided walks.

From June to September, the cooler weather brings animals out into the open, making safaris even more thrilling with better chances to see wildlife.

With its gentle climate, Kariega is welcoming throughout the year. April is particularly great, with the weather just right for getting out and about the outdoors.

Also read: Adorable video of rhino calf playing with a plant at Kariega Game Reserve

2. Groendal Nature Reserve

Groendal Nature Reserve - Places to visit in Kariega (Uitenhage)

Picture: Facebook / @Groendal Nature Reserve

The Groendal Wilderness Area is the Eastern Cape’s dedicated haven for pure nature. Surprisingly, it is just 10 kilometres from the city’s noise but offers a tranquil retreat into the wild. It’s an ideal spot for those looking to get away, with various trails for a challenging expedition or a calm walk among nature’s wonders.

The area is a beautiful mix of deep valleys and babbling streams, with the peaceful Groendal Dam at its heart, hidden by the Swartkops River. The trails offer something for everyone, from the long 16 km Blindekloof trail leading you to the stunning Crystal Cavern Pool to more straightforward, shorter trails perfect for a family day out.

Less known and shorter than advertised, an adventure story from the Lower Blindekloof trail showcases a journey past several beautiful natural pools. The fourth offers a calm haven and playful fish for a memorable rest stop. It’s a straight path and can get warm, so packing water, sunscreen, and a hat is crucial.

Getting there might challenge you, requiring a 4×4 to tackle the dirt roads to a tricky parking spot. The adventure ahead makes the challenge worthwhile. With an entrance fee of R78 per hiker, the trails promise excitement, though their paths may sometimes lead you slightly astray, adding to the wildness of the Groendal experience.

Address: Doornhoek Rd, Cape Road Industrial, Kariega, 6229

3. Volkswagen Factory and Museum

AutoPavilion - Places to visit in Kariega (Uitenhage)

Picture: Facebook / @AutoPavilion

Volkswagen Group South Africa warmly invites everyone to a free Factory Tour at its premises in Kariega. Guests can also explore the AutoPavilion, where Volkswagen’s long-standing tradition meets its innovative future, highlighting the company’s position as a leader in the automotive industry.

The Factory Tour is an exclusive, guided one-hour journey through Volkswagen’s high-tech vehicle production areas. This unique experience lets visitors see firsthand the careful craftsmanship and sophisticated technology behind Volkswagen’s esteemed production lines. Suitable for anyone aged 8 and older, the tour welcomes groups up to 21, offering a close-up and comprehensive view of the manufacturing process.

To ensure the safety of all, Volkswagen Group South Africa follows strict COVID-19 safety protocols during the factory tour. Available at 09h00 and 12h00 during weekdays, these tours provide a safe yet enlightening insight into the automotive industry.

Beside the Factory Tour lies the AutoPavilion, open weekdays from 08h30 to 16h00. Visitors can dive into Volkswagen’s extensive history and innovative strides forward. This venue takes a break on weekends and public holidays, adding depth to the visiting experience with interactive displays and stories of Volkswagen’s journey.

Due to high demand and limited space, Volkswagen Group South Africa suggests booking the Factory Tour well in advance. This step ensures you don’t miss out on this exclusive look at Volkswagen’s operations in Kariega.

Free of charge, the Factory Tours require booking ahead and welcome visitors 8 years and older. Held from Monday to Friday in the morning, these tours are complemented by the broader visiting hours of the adjacent AutoPavilion, promising an educational foray into the realm of car production.

Address: 103 Algoa Rd, Alexander Park, Kariega, 6229

4. Drostdy Museum Kariega

Drostdy Museum Kariega - Places to visit in Kariega (Uitenhage)

Picture: Facebook / @The Drostdy Museum, Swellendam

The Drostdy is a historical landmark that has stood since 1809 when General Jacob Glen Cuyler ran things in Uitenhage. Now, it’s a museum that takes you through Uitenhage’s journey, showing off the history of the town and its neighbours and inviting you to dive into the tales of the past.

Drostdy’s design, with its unique U-shape and high ceilings, might make you think of Thibault, but the Cape Dutch style steals the show. This style isn’t just about looking back; it’s got this timeless grace that brings out what that era was all about.

Once General Cuyler left, The Drostdy saw a lineup of important guests, like Captain and Mrs. Andries Stockenstrom, in the late 1820s. Over the years, it changed hands and roles, from JW Van Der Riet’s home to a boarding house and eventually the cosy family spot for Mrs Brundson at the start of the 20th century.

1923 brought a new role for The Drostdy as the Uitenhage Railway Institute, but it wasn’t until the mid-70s that the municipality took it over, starting a big restoration project. By 1981, the place was all spruced up and ready to be a museum, becoming a key spot for history and culture in Uitenhage.

Address: 50 Caledon Street, Kariega, 6229, (041) 992 2063

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Also Read: 5 Places to visit in Beaufort West

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