This Halloween, here are some destinations which are only recommended for the truly brave.
This seaside suburb on the Cape Peninsula is home to many ghosts. One is a young woman whose face can be seen in a haunted painting found in the Simon’s Town Museum, but no photograph of her face can be developed. Try...if you dare.
In fact, just about every building in this historic naval town claims to have a ghost or spirit of sorts, including the local pubs. So, watch out for naval officers and women in old gab - especially late at night. There’s even a weekly Simonstown Ghost Walk on Friday and Saturday evenings for those who wish to get up close and personal with the local spooks. The two-hour, family-friendly walking tour starts at the statue of Just Nuisance on Jubilee Square and costs R100 per person.
Just a short drive away, you can also visit Cape Point to try and spot the infamous Flying Dutchman ghost ship which was reported missing at sea in 1641 on its way back from a trading mission to Indonesia. It was caught in stormy weather while rounding the Cape and the ship and its entire crew were doomed to sail the seas around Cape Point. There have been countless sightings over the years, with all descriptions bearing striking similarities.
Built in 1824, the Old Gaol in Grahamstown was operational until 1975 through the last person publicly hanged at the gallows on-site supposedly never left. His name was Henry Nicholls and he was killed in 1862 on a rape charge - a crime not punishable by death at the time, and therefore the supposed reason his unsettled spirit remains on site. The jail was known for its brutal public beatings and hangings, with those sentenced to death shackled and paraded for all to see. It is believed that Nicholls is doomed to walk this undignified path for all eternity.
According to the book Ghosts of Grahamstown by Brian Jackson and Pat Hopkins, there are also many other eerie sightings to be found in the university town, including a crying baby near the Stone Crescent Hotel that has been heard, but never seen when the crying is followed. Then there’s the spirit of a maid murdered by a soldier in Selwyn Castle in 1835, who is said to haunt what is now Rhodes University’s Anthropology Department. In fact, many university departments are said to have ghosts who reside in them.
The Lord Milner Hotel in this tiny town, just off the N1 between Touws River and Laingsburg, is famously said to be home to a number of ghosts.
Listen carefully and you could hear ghostly laughter, loud sobs and the clacking of billiard balls, and watch out for slamming doors without a breeze to be felt, lamps sliding off bedside tables, and horses that can only be seen by small children.
If you hear a knock at your bedroom door in the night, it could be Lucy - who wanders the corridors crying at night. You can also still hear Kate, a Boer War nurse, shuffling her playing cards in her card room in the central spire of the hotel.
There have also been sightings of British soldiers from the Boer War and both Matjiesfontein founder James Logan and former hotel owner David Rawdon are said to continue to live in the town. Rawdon is particularly protective over his prized vintage car collection, it seems.
With all of these stories and more, it’s perhaps no surprise that the town is known as one of the most haunted locations in South Africa.
Similarly, the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert has many resident ghosts and even haunted paintings which apparently change directly in front of the eyes of guests so that the objects or faces in the images are moving. There are also poltergeists in the hotel which move objects around and which have even thrown the odd vase on occasion. Staff have also reportedly seen the ghost of a woman who hanged herself in one of the rooms in the early 1900s, though they won’t tell you which room. Many other old buildings in the town are also rumoured to have ghostly residents, and a ghost tour can be booked through the hotel.