Safaris, surfing, and supernatural encounters? The latter may not be a sought-after South African tourist experience, but check out any of the following buildings, castles or even roads listed here, and you might just feel something brush by you at night. Here are 10 of the most haunted places in South Africa.
Sources: My Property, hplaces.co.za, roadtravelafrica.com, examiner.com, gotravel24.com, railwaystays.com, about-south-africa.com, lonelyplanet.com, capetown.travel, talkparanormal.com, myproperty.co.za
This article originally appeared June 18, 2014.
General Jan Smuts, a renowned philosopher, scholar, botanist, statesman, and soldier, lived in this very idyllic house for over 40 years. Also known as Doornkloof, it is now a museum wtih scores of indigenous trees planted by Smuts in the garden. However, many visitors have reported seeing an old man floating around on the grounds, sporting a “Kruger-like” mustache. Many believe him to be the protector of a hidden Boer fortune somewhere on the property.
If you’re roaming the halls of this elegant countryside hotel an hour outside of Durban and you meet a young woman named Charlotte, best scurry back to your room — especially if you’re a man. Charlotte was scorned by her British soldier lover at the turn of the last century, and decided that a leap from the balcony of Room 10 was easier on her heart. Now her activities are arranging bedsheets, flower bouquets, and mirrors in the room, and even ringing for room service. Won’t somebody just love Charlotte?!
Known as one of the most paranormally active houses in the country, it was built in the 1870s by H.P. Rudd, chairman of the De Beers Mining Company. Multiple wings were added over the next 100 years, and generations of Rudds inhabited the building until they apparently couldn’t take the sounds of a baby wailing and silverware clanging and moved out. Renowned clairvoyant Dr. P.K. Le Sueur studied the house for years, claiming to witness glowing orbs and strange manifestations. Another story documents three journalists sitting around a table getting their photo taken. Only two appeared in the developed picture!
Originally named the Hollandia Hotel built in 1880, it’s now renowned as the oldest lodgings in Pretoria, situated along the classic railway connecting Transvaal to the ocean. After 10 p.m., should you be ascending the main staircase to get some shut-eye, you might feel a ghostly presence and you might even see the elegant “gray lady” making her way down. Then there’s little Alfie, who likes to turn the taps on and off (off when you’re ready to bathe), and also make a racket in the kitchen.
Originally the Kimberley Public Library built in 1882, it’s now an old, decadent museum, lavish with spiral staircases and still intact with the catalog of more than 14,000 books it featured way back when. And, way back when, there was a librarian named Bertrand Dyer who liked to make a profit off of misrepresenting the prices on books. As the story goes, Dyer’s scam was uncovered and he drank some cyanide, taking more than three days to die and in the process, left his soul behind. If you ever need to find a book, just shout out the title. Apparently Dyer’s ghost will toss it off the shelf for you!
Reportedly, the entire town is a place of supernatural partying, especially at this beautiful Victorian Hotel. Except this time it’s really a ghostly shindig — apparently the sounds of billiards balls clacking and men chuckling can be heard reverberating through the lounge walls. There’s also Lucy, wandering the first floor halls sobbing in a negligee, and Kate, a young Boer War nurse who loved to play cards — through the centuries, it seems. The sound of cards being shuffled wafts through from “Kate’s Card Room” on the second floor. Does this hotel really need any more guests?!
Grahamstown is a lively college town and backpacker’s destination these days, but the stain of violence and execution still exists. Built in 1824, this former jail and gallows still has cells one can crouch down into, to get a feel for the cold darkness of brutal times gone by. Or, you could brush by Henry Nicholls, the last person publicly hanged there in 1862 on rape charges. The fact that rape was not punishable by death is what’s said to be the reason for the roaming, untethered spirit of Nicholls, who’s said to traverse back and forth from gaol to gallows.
The country’s oldest and most historical city is bound to have some haunts. The most ancient standing colonial building in South Africa is the Castle of Good Hope, a fort built by the Dutch East India Company in 1666 and now a tourist site visitors flock to. The bell in the bell tower rings independently, a black dog runs at visitors and then vanishes (scary!), screams and footsteps are heard from unknown origins…and then there’s Lady Anne Barnard, the colony’s former First Lady, who likes to show up at parties held for dignitaries, even though she’s been gone for centuries…
Seems like the spirits like to keep their book clubs going! The building was erected in 1902, but a fire next door in 1896 burned Police Constable Maxwell to death. His memorial stone was moved to the new library’s gardens, which he apparently disapproved of posthumously. He haunted Room 700 until the stone was put back. Then there’s former caretaker Robert Thomas, who died in 1943. He loves the library so much, he still continues his work of shutting the doors properly and stacking books on the floor.
The Uniondale Hitchhiker. Don’t pull over to pick her up. Legend has it that one cold Easter night in 1968, a young couple crashed on a lonely road outside of town at the Barandas turnoff in the Eastern Cape. The man survived, but Maria Roux’s life was cut short. She decided to stick around, however. Every witness says the same thing: they pick up a pretty, brown-haired girl on a cold winter’s night. She gets in the car, laughs loudly and disappears, leaving behind the scent of apple blossoms. She’s trying to get to her parent’s house to announce her engagement, you see. Chills!!
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