SPECTACULAR ROUND TRIP:
Journey from the Great Karoo to the Klein Karoo and back: Swartberg pass, Cango Caves, Ostrich riding in Oudtshoorn returning via De Rust, Meiringspoort, the Great waterfall and Prince Albert valley.
Swartberg Pass, 2km south of the village of Prince Albert, 27km long and last of the 17 passes built by the remarkable road builder, Thomas Bain 1893, now a World Heritage site and one of the most spectacular passes in the world. You will see magnificent fluorescent green lichen on the mountain sides, abundance of flora and wildlife, including the petit, shy Klipspringer, as well as sightings of Rock Kestrel and Verreaux’s Eagles. Experience the breath taking views and the amazing natural stone walls, hugging the mountain sides.
Cango Caves, 55km from PA where you explore a natural wonderland with daily tours leaving on the hour.
Wilgewandel holiday farm, a few 100m towards Oudtshoorn from the T-Junction to Prince Albert, offers Camel and Donkey cart rides, animal feeding, foefie slides over the dam, quad buggies and light meals . . . wonderful for the kiddies.
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, en-route to Oudtshoorn, offers you a close up elephant experience, game drives to see rhino, buffalo, giraffe and kudu or a horse ride around the 5ha waterhole. Receive 10% discount if bookings made through Karoo View.
Cango Wildlife Ranch is also en-route to Oudtshoorn and offers you much in adventure and animals.
Oudtshoorn being the feather capital of the world offers you so much – enjoy a thrilling and exhilarating experience of riding an Ostrich or sampling Ostrich Steaks at one of the Ostrich Show farms and more. Returning via N12, De Rust and Meiringspoort.
De Rust is filled with antique shops, galleries and quirky tea gardens, but The Village Trading Post is a must for “foodies” and Klapperbos for those looking for unique gifts.
Continue through the majestic Meiringspoort gorge, with its geological formations a complete contrast to the Swartberg Pass, colours changing constantly throughout the day and rare sightings of rainbows and waterfalls. 25 Km Long, 25 interestingly named drifts to traverse, each with their own story and the Great Waterfall, midway, to have a picnic and in summer have a refreshing ‘dip’ in one of the pools, where it is said you may even spot the “Karoo Mermaid”.
Visit the tiny hamlet of Klaarstroom, little affected by time, 58km from PA, as you exit Meiringspoort.
As you crest the Kredouw Pass you now enter the picturesque Prince Albert Valley, also known as Die Gang, 25km from PA, with ‘picture cut-out’ views of the mountains, grape vines and olive groves. There are now 3 Wineries in the Prince Albert valley. The 1st on the right is Reiersvlei, a little further on is Bergwater on the left and 17km from Prince Albert is Fernskloof on the right.
As you return to the village of Prince Albert, look to your right for a truly magnificent example of the fluorescent green lichen on the rocks, which is really a beautiful sight, particularly as the sun is setting.
KAROO NIGHTS IN PRINCE ALBERT AND AT KAROO VIEW COTTAGES:
Who said that Ghosts do not exist? Enjoy an evening “Out on the town” with our local storyteller, Ailsa the Story Weaver who will share with you many a tale about Prince Albert or, have a private story telling around your log fire or in the boma here at Karoo View. We will happily make a booking for you.
Enjoy an exciting and interesting evening with Astro Tours who will show you our beautiful night sky, an experience not to be missed, where you will have the opportunity of using a telescope, first hand.
End your Karoo day at one of our restaurants; Karoo Kombuis, The Gallery Café, African Relish, Swartberg Arms or the Swartberg Hotel’s Victoria Room.
Relax and unwind after your travels with a sun downer on your private stoep overlooking the Prince Albert village, whilst watching the moon rising over the Swartberg Mountains, and relishing in the peace and tranquillity that surrounds you as the night sky draws your eye to the heavens as the sun sets.
Natural stone Boma with lovely large braai, equipped with all your firewood, firelighters, braai grids and utensils, all with our compliments. Natural stone Plunge pool, with lounger and umbrellas – a perfect way to end a summer’s day with your glass of vino or two.
3 Private braai areas and viewing spots to choose from, all individually designed to blend into the natural vegetation, equipped with your firewood and firelighters with our compliments, including braai grids and tongs - really special to view our magnificent night sky ending off your day.
For your convenience we will gladly make up a Braai Basket, including Richard’s home baked bread, Karoo Lamb, Wors and an assortment of other “goodies”.
We also encourage you to pick veggies and herbs from our organic tunnel with our compliments, as nothing beats the fresh, fragrant taste and smell of ‘freshly picked’ straight from the garden, which is also a delight for the kiddies.
If you look to your right from your stoep at Karoo View Cottages, you will see a dark grey building nestled against the Koppie. This is where you can watch Booley at Striking Metal, using age old techniques and traditions of Blacksmithing in his Forge equipped with the most amazing array of tools and Anvils, some of which date back to the Middle Ages. Booley will welcome Commission work, many of which have found their way around South Africa.
Another special experience is a visit to the Tannery a little further down the road, where you can have Custom made Sheepskin Slippers made for you. They do take a day or two, however we will gladly arrange to post to you, or provide you with yet another reason to linger longer in our piece of heaven. Such a delightful experience for children and adults alike.
A real treat to end off your Karoo day, is to take a short walk or cycle along our road towards the farms and Karoo Plains, where you may be fortunate enough to spot a Karoo Hare, Tortoise, or a Spotted Eagle Owl perched on one of the farm fences and if you are very lucky you may even see an Aardvark, silhouetted against the setting sun.
Or take a 2 minute walk into the village and sample Karoo Fare at one of the eateries, as it is perfectly safe to walk from Karoo View Cottages.
SOME MORE DAY TRIP IDEAS:
Gamkaskloof (Die Hel), only suitable by 4 x 4 and allow 5 hours for the return trip.
If you do not have a 4 x 4 all is not lost as John a qualified Tour Guide will gladly take you into Die Hel for the day in his vehicle “John’s Donkey”.
Pack your picnic basket, or pre-order from the Lazy Lizard, fill your tank, as there is no petrol in the valley and head off up the Swartberg Mountain for 20km. Take a right turn at the sign Gamkaskloof - 37km – 2hrs, and experience magnificent views as you traverse this part of the Swartberg and meander down the zigzags of Elandspad, dropping 1000m to the almost ‘forgotten valley’ of the Kloowers who lived in this fertile valley in isolation until 1962.
As you would have been travelling for 2,5 hours, visit the kiosk for light meals and local produce which is only available in the valley. Once refreshed continue driving along the valley floor, criss-crossing the river bed. Take time to stop and look at the interesting grave yard, school and school house as well as various Kloower’s cottages. It will take you around 30 minutes to reach Cape Nature’s kiosk, at the end of the valley, where you can laze under large trees and grass to enjoy your picnic. See the Norse Water-mill and learn more about these ‘almost forgotten’ people.
The return trip will take you about 2,5hrs which you must plan into your timing so that you arrive back before nightfall, as it is not advisable to travel the mountain in the dark. (Total driving time in and out = 5 hours excluding refreshment stops)
Another suggestion, if you wish to experience life down in the Gamkaskloof for the night, (we will gladly send you contact details), you will be hosted by the Joubert’s, and being the last family of Kloowers down in the valley this makes for an interesting experience where you will learn how the name Gamkaskloof came about. Otherwise you can choose to stay at Boplaas which is the only remaining privately owned farm, situated at the far end of the valley.
Returning the following day, taking in more Daytime delights of our special village and return to Karoo View Cottages where we will welcome you back for another special evening under the stars, experiencing the peace and tranquillity that surrounds you.
The Gamkapoort Dam is worth a visit, 45km west from Karoo View Cottages another wonderful day or half day trip, but again only really suitable by 4 x 4, and especially after rain as the dry river beds maybe in full flood, but an awesome experience. The terrain is completely different to the mountainous areas, as you will be travelling through the Karoo farmlands, dotted with windmills along the way. There are 5 farm gates to open and close, but worth the trouble, as this journey takes you from valley to valley between the mountain ranges where you will experience the amazing geological formations as well as sightings of Kudu, Klipspringer, Ostrich, Jackal, Tortoises and Baboons who have the most amazing silky long hair.
You will enter the Cape Nature Conservation area at the dam, continue alongside the dam and around to an area where you can picnic next to the dam, canoe, fish or even take a dip. The Dam was built in 1970, and even though it is close to Prince Albert it was built for the sole purpose of the farmers in Calitzdorp, just on the other side and due to its construction there is now no through road from Prince Albert to Calitzdorp, as the dam covers the original road, which was the main route through to Cape Town in days long gone. (We had a guest stay with us a little while ago who, 53 years ago used this route whilst on a rally)
This is yet another great cycling route for our crazy Mountain Biker’s, but don’t forget to take lots of water, as the area is very desolate and filled with ‘nothingness’, but so rejuvenating for the soul.
DAY TIME DELIGHTS IN OUR VILLAGE:
Start your day afresh and take in a nature walk led by either ornithologist Dr Richard Dean or botanist Prof Sue Milton-Dean of Renu-Karoo, where you will discover the hidden life of the desert landscape including burrowing animals, dwarf succulents, past landscapes and cultures. You will never look at the Karoo veld with the same eyes. We will gladly make a booking for you.
Visit Renu-Karoo Indigenous Nursery in the main street where they have a large range of Karoo plants, some really interestingly potted Karoo succulents and Olive trees, which make perfect gifts for your loved ones back home.
As you travel along the main street of our village you will see our very own Lotto Shop – where you will meet Blinde Piet who is our local piano tuner and one of the last remaining Kloowers – he is the most awe inspiring person that you will ever have had the opportunity of meeting, and hearing his story is mind blowing.
Sample award winning cheeses; Queen Vic, Prince Albert Regal and Prince Albert Royal at Gay’s Guernsey Dairy, located at the top end of the Main street, and if you may be fortunate enough to taste their delicious thick Guernsey cream, which is in such demand. A delight for the kiddies is watching the cows being brought in for milking, usually at about 15h00.
Visit Soet Karoo Wine Estate, the smallest and only wine estate in the main street of Prince Albert, where you are able to taste and purchase their lovely dessert wines which are made from grapes grown in their back garden.
Prince Albert is fortunate in having a strong source of water from the Swartberg which is the lifeblood of the village, and is one of the last Karoo villages which still has “working and running” Lei Water which is another wonderful and delightful attraction. Whilst walking around the village you will “hear the gurgling sound of the water” as it rushes down the furrows along the main street and many of the side streets.
Take a drive or scenic walk around the village taking in its Historical Route including 13 National Monuments, and which boast an assortment of historical architectural delights. Maps are available at the Tourism office or Museum.
Take a tour of the Fransie Pienaar Museum, which abounds with history of the village, its surrounds and also has a very interesting fossil display. Another “special” is they have the only licence to Stook Witblitz, which takes place annually during April, however they do have it sale for sale for those who are brave enough to taste this special tipple. Keep a look out for the local ghost who it is said floats in out of the various rooms.
A visit to Karoo Looms is an interesting experience, where you will be able to see the hand weavers at work whilst producing wonderful hand spun woven rugs made from Mohair and Wool, many of which are exported all over the world.
Don’t forget to visit the The Gallery in the Seven Arches building, which hosts numerous art exhibitions during the year and our Bi-Annual 30 x 40 Art Exhibition and PART FESTIVAL, usually in August or September.
Whilst driving or walking around the village you will see many Artists’ houses as well as an array of wonderful shops filled with locally made crafts and other interesting “finds”. When you need a moment to catch your breath, there are many interesting eateries catering for all; real home cooking, teas, scrumptious tarts and cakes topped with Gaye’s cream, right through to those delightful cordon bleu style meals.
For those of you who have been following the 1st series of Kyknet’s Kookedoor, you are sure to want to meet and experience Hendry Oliver’s Master Chef’s culinary fare.
If visiting on a Saturday do not miss out on the Saturday market in the Markie, where you will be able to sample food, refreshments, home- made preserves and jams, fresh vegetables and fruit, freshly baked bread as well as other local produce and craft, majority of which is “Proudly Prince Albert” made.
PRINCE ALBERT and NATURE:
For all our Nature Lover’s and outdoor people there is much to keep you busy!
Before the sun rises, take a walk along the Robert Gordon Koppie. Yes, this is the view that you are looking at right now from Karoo View Cottages, where the paths are marked and you will be able to get close to nature and at the same time experience the sun rising up over the Swartberg Mountains and magnificent views overlooking the village of Prince Albert as it awakens. Have breakfast at either La-Di-Dah or the Lazy Lizard before setting off to explore the village on your return to Karoo View.
For those “who seek adventure” from Mountain Biking, Cycling to Hiking, there are many interesting routes available. Directly from Karoo View Cottages, head out for the Gamkapoort Dam, Swartberg Mountain, or for the more adventurous who don’t mind the adrenaline pumping, venture into Die Hel. Should you be interested we are able to put you in touch with our friends who have access to circular routes via the various farms and who have experience of the different trails, who will gladly take you on these adventure trails.
Who said that the Karoo wasn’t for golfers? Why not take in a 9 hole on the unique sand and oil greens of the Prince Albert Karoo Golf Course, where only Van plays with a yellow golf ball in Spring Time . . ., oh don’t forget your piece of Astro turf for teeing off.
Talking of Spring in the Karoo, wow how the vegetation ‘comes alive’ after our winter rains, and as far as the eye can see is covered in a multitude of colour, as every inch is amass of blooms. So who needs to trek to the far northern regions of the Province, when you can experience this and much more, in the surrounding areas and here at Karoo View Cottages, as it is a sight to behold when you draw back your curtains upon waking.
For those who wish to laze away the day, why not pack up a picnic basket and head to the Swartberg Pass where you will find a couple of picnic spots:
Eerstewater, First water, so named as this was a place that the draught animals could be outspanned and watered when coming out of the pass. There are also ruins of the convict base camp which housed the convicts building the pass for Thomas Bain.
Tweedewater, Second water, where the older people of the village waited for the water level to drop before they could cross the drift.
Malvadraai, Geranium Bend, so named as Geraniums are prolific in this area and it is also the start of one of the most beautiful walking trails in the Swartberg.
Teeberg, Tea Mountain, where you will see the well- known Honey Tea Bush growing.
If the past interests you, take in a Fossil Tour and visit Karoo fossil sites as well as view bushman paintings with Dr Judy McGuire.
Karoo View Cottages offer our Nature, Bird Lovers and Photographers an unspoilt paradise. We endeavoured whilst building to retain our natural flora for you to enjoy and wherever you look and walk you will see and experience the natural beauty that surrounds you right on your doorstep.
PRINCE ALBERT FARM VISITS and PASSES
Have a guided tour of Swartrivier Olive Farm 4 km from the village, where 50 to 80 tons of olives from 3000 trees are harvested each year and where you will be able to taste and buy their locally made award winning olive products, which are now being exported to the USA.
A visit to Weltevrede Fig Farm, 28km through the beautiful Weltevrede valley will amaze you, as you see numerous fruit farms, yes, right in the middle of the Karoo, where you will be able to stock up on your fig and pomegranate supplies, which are in great demand.
My Shire on Witplaat Farm is an 11 circuit Labyrinth in the vast, open beauty of the Great Karoo at the end of the Weltevrede valley. Experience a moment that lasts a lifetime! “In choosing a style of Labyrinth, I felt that the 11-circuit medieval labyrinth based on that at Chartres Cathedral in France, which dates back to 1201, was the perfect one for the Karoo. It represents so much: the cross in the Labyrinth divides it into four quadrants representing: the four elements (Earth Water Air Fire), the four directions (North South East West), the four Gospels (Matthew Mark Luke John) and the four seasons (Winter Summer Spring Autumn). The six Rose petals in the centre of the Labyrinth represent the six days on which God created the Earth and the centre of the Rose is the seventh day, on which He rested.” – by Lisa Smith “Naturally, the Labyrinth is wheelchair friendly and believe it or not, even our horses are walking it with Gary, my husband!”
Do not forget the numerous Mountain Passes, Poort’s, and Game Farms which are all an easy days travelling distance from Karoo View Cottages.
Here are some suggestions:
Seweweekspoort between Calitzdorp and Ladismith just off Route 62.
Bosluiskloof Pass not far from Ladismith.
Uniondale has a lovely circular route taking in the Potjiesberg Pass to Avontuur and back via Uniondale Poort.
Outeniqua and Montague Passes, which provide an interesting circular route between Oudtshoorn and George.
Now - Who can say that the Karoo is a plain, desolate and boring place after reading and or experiencing just how much our village of Prince Albert, Karoo View Cottages and surrounding areas have to offer you?
Richard and I would like to invite you and your families To come and share our heaven in the Great Karoo. We hope that you are able to take the time to STOP and spend some quality time, Experiencing our world, Instead of rushing down the N1, N12 or N2 to your final destinations. You are sure to take many memories away with you and you will certainly Not forget the “smiles” and “waves” From the friendly folk of PRINCE ALBERT.
Please take a few moments to read our Guest Comments or take a look at our Gallery.
We look forward to meeting and welcoming you to KAROO VIEW COTTAGES “The name says it all” In the middle of nowhere, close to everywhere, In the heart of the Karoo, Prince Albert, Western Cape, South Africa.