This small Karoo town, about 50 km south-west of Graaff-Reinet, is surrounded by the Camdeboo Mountains. Camdeboo is a Khoisan word meaning “green hole”, the name believed to have originally been given to a green valley situated between Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet. This valley, known as the Camdeboo Conservancy, lies in the shadows of the towering mountain range. The perpetual sound of running water explains the existence of this oasis in an otherwise arid area. Aberdeen obtains its water from a natural spring that has never been known to dry up. The water is fed through a system of furrows (“leivore”) to each property. The town is named for the Scottish birthplace of the renowned Dutch Reformed minister, Andrew Murray, who regularly attended to the needs of the flock of the area. Aberdeen has a remarkable architectural heritage and has been declared an architectural conservation area. Its immaculately-preserved historical homes and cottages are exceptionally charming. The town lies in a primarily sheep- and angora-goat farming district, an area where the now extinct wild quagga, a type of zebra, was last seen.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: The best way to explore the beautiful and rugged Karoo surroundings is to follow one of several hiking trails in the vicinity of the town.
Scenic drives: Take a drive in the countryside to some of the majestic peaks of the Camdeboo Mountains, such as the “Sleeping Giant”.
Working farm holidays: Various farms in the area offer accommodation and an opportunity to experience farm life.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Petrified forest: The forest can be viewed on a farm in the district but prior permission is necessary. Contact the local tourism office for more information.
Art And Crafts
Art Route: The route takes visitors to the galleries and workshops of the many potters, weavers, artists and crafters who find their inspiration in the beautiful surroundings of Aberdeen. Carlos de Souza’s renowned decoupage ostrich eggs are one example of the talents of the local artists. The Maritime Museum in Lisbon recently bought a collection of these eggs.
Fauna And Flora
Aberdeen Municipal Nature Reserve: The reserve houses abundant game and bird life (including ostriches) and has trails, picnic sites and barbecue areas.
Fonteinbos Nature Reserve: This 1 500- ha reserve boasts a perennial spring, dinosaur footprints and many species of antelopes and birds. View springbok, kudu and steenbok during the 20-km circular drive, or you can walk through the reserve.
History And Architecture
Dutch Reformed Church: This church is one of the largest churches in the country. Its organ is 100 years old and its 50-m-high spire, which is 45cm off-centre, is one of the tallest in the country.
Eclectic architecture: Aberdeen offers a wonderful collection of eclectic architecture dating back to the last decades of the nineteenth century. Styles spotted in the town include Georgian, Karoo, German, Gothic, Russian and Flemish architectural examples. The Victorian architectural style is dominant and was often used to design the stately mansions of the ostrich barons. Examples of the latter style are houses such as De Denne and Pagel House.
Post Office and Magistrate’s Court: Built in 1898, this building incorporates Victorian, Cape Dutch and Gothic influences. Take special note of the building’s gargoyles.
Meteorite site: The landing site of the meteorite is situated on a farm in the district and may be viewed by prior appointment. Contact the local tourism office for more information.