Cape Town – South Africa has some of the most chilling ghost stories, myths and legends on the planet.
It seems most of these ghost stories all revolve around love – a force so strong it remains powerful even in the afterlife.
From young brides, tragically killed on their wedding nights to scorned lovers looking for revenge… you don’t want to mess with South African women – dead or alive.
For the braver among us, there are acres worth exploring on the SA ghost scene.
These are our 13 favourite ghostly road trips perfect to take this Halloween:
Owl house in Nieu Bethesta
There is something super tragic about the Owl House museum in Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape - partly because of the tragic love story lurking behind the eerie art in the garden.
The house itself was inherited by a woman named Helen Martins. Legend has it that Martins, after her mother died, moved her father into the outside room, which she painted black. The room had no windows, only had a potbellied stove and a bed for him to sleep on. Her father had been verbally abusive to her and this was her way of getting back at him...
READ: Owl House reflections in Nieu Bethesda
After her father died in this room, Martins started to transform the house and the garden – decorating it with eerie statues. Some tales say Martins fell in love with her gardener – a man of colour - and proceeded to take her own life by swallowing poison as interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa at the time.
The route to the Owl House is a trip through the eerie, arid heartland of the Great Karoo.
Captain and crew of The Flying Dutchman
Made famous by the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the 17th Century Der Fliegende Hollander is a ghost ship some people claim to have seen appear in the waters of the Cape of Good Hope. True to the tales, it has been sighted over the centuries by everyone from sailors to royalty.
The ship did sail the seas once, and was one of the many shipwrecked along the notorious Cape of Storms.
The route to seeing where The Flying Dutchman came to its end is along Cape Point.
Richly House, Port Elizabeth
It is said that the ghost of an old nun visits patients at the Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth.
Built by William James Wills in 1906, Richly House has been used for many different purposes over the years, from a general nursing home to a World War II brothel and a post-war boarding house - giving it many different resident ghosts. People have had encounters with a nun, accompanied by the chilling cries of an unseen baby, a grumpy man in a grey coat causing havoc in the kitchen and a woman and child in period clothing.
Most of these ghostly inhabitants are fairly oblivious to their human onlookers, except for the one that appears in the domestic quarters and tries to strangle the staff members...
Drive the route to this hospital at night, to enhance the spooky effect...
Daisy de Melker's house - Turffontein
The notorious Daisy de Melker was the first serial killer ever to be convicted in South Africa after killing off two husbands and a son through poisoning in the 1920s. She was hanged for her crimes in 1932 and is said to haunt most of the places associated with her, among others Court 3 in the Johannesburg Supreme Court.
Her home in Club Street in Turffontein, however, is the scariest place. It is still standing and sometimes Daisy can still be seen there, peering out the upstairs window.
Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein
Matjiesfontein is home to numerous ghosts, but the most commonly sighted ones are seen in or around the Lord Milner Hotel, built in 1899. The ghostly gang includes Kate, a 19-year old Boer Nurse, James Logan, the original town founder, and a poltergeist called Lucy.
You can drive along the N1 to this haunted hotel, but taking the old-school train is a much cooler outing!
READ: Time travel with four of SA's best train trips
Ghost of Uniondale
This is probably the best known ghost legend in South Africa. Legend has it that a recently engaged couple drove through stormy weather one Easter weekend to the town of Uniondale in 1986. The couple was driving in their Volkswagen Beetle when the young lad overturned the car, killing his fiancé – Marie Charlotte Roux.
Ever since, many drivers have reported ghost-like activity in the area, especially over the Easter weekend.
The route follows the Barandas-Willowmore road, around 20km from Uniondale.
Prince Albert, Klein Karoo
Prince Albert has a doomed bride who was said to have died in a cart accident on the eve of her wedding, decades ago. She is known in town to haunt the parlour of the house that is now the Fransie Pienaar Museum.
Prince Albert is in the heart of the Klein Karoo and a road trip to the area is equally exciting as a ghost walk through the town itself.
The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town
The Castle of Good Hope is one of the oldest colonial buildings in South Africa, and is said to be home to several unexplained phenomena, such as ghostly footsteps, flickering lights, and specters that appear; one of which is reputed to be the castle’s first official hostess, Lady Anne Barnard.
Earlier this year Traveller24 received a letter from a reader who told us of another ghostly experience. He explained peering into a supposedly empty room, and seeing men dressed in colonial attire stand over an old world map – in heavy conversation… Years after, the reader said, he thought he must have seen something otherworldly as he was the only one of his tour group to have seen this sight…
The route around the Castle of Good Hope is a short one, but none the less hair-raising…
Stories of a beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed mermaid living in the Klein Karoo near De Rust have been murmured about in local circles for the last few centuries. Legend has it that she lives in the bottomless pool below Skelm waterfall in the Meiringspoort.
A drive though the iconic Meiringspoort, with a stop at the Skelm waterfall will lead you right to her.
Uitkomst Farm, Machadodorp
About 20km outside of the Mpumalanga town of Machadodorp, a beautiful waterfall can be found on a farm called Uitkomst. According to legend, aA young honeymoon couple was exploring the waterfall when the woman lost her footing and slipped to her death. A year later her distraught husband returned and took his own life on the same spot.
On moonlit nights, the reunited pair may still be seen at the top of the waterfall. Dare to drive it on Halloween night to see the love-lost couple.
Another Traveller24 reader, Thinus Heunis, told us about this haunted house. Ghosts and spirits have been noted in the abandoned Kopano Hospital so many times that there is now a dedicated Facebook page where visitors can share their otherworldly experiences...
Take a drive up Long Road in Welkom at night to feel the chills at the back of your neck. Who knows, you might even spot a flickering of lights in the long-abandoned building!
Alanglade House in Pilgrim’s Rest
This Pilgrim’s Rest family was repeatedly hit by tragedy, with all three sons dying in their 20s. When Mrs Barry – who occupied Alanglade house – died, she left all the sorrow of her life and losses behind in the house. The original furniture is still standing around in the house, hauntingly. From the baby’s cot to the dolls with which the children used to play.
Take a trip to Pilgrim’s Rest, but be sure to go on one of the facilitated ghost tours through the town.
The road outside East London
The Christian community of East London came together to erect a cross and signpost just outside East London along the R346 after multiple, inexplicable accidents took place on the road on one particular spot.
Various unconnected drivers who survived these strange accidents say ghosts caused them to crash their cars. The victims said they were driving alone in their cars past this particular spot when suddenly they would hear loud voices in the car. The fright of the voices made them swerve and in some cases overturn their vehicles…
PS: We’re too scared to go on some of these… Do let us know of your experiences on these road trips, would you?
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