Not really being close to anywhere is probably part of its attraction. Surrounded by the majestic Swartberg mountains, on the border of the Groet Karoo, it’s a destination rather than a quick visit.
It’s burning hot in summer and freezing in winter. There is the feeling of space and never-ending views; the way the light changes is balm to the soul. And best of all, the village is postcard pretty, with most of the historic buildings still intact. It’s one of the few places in South Africa still to operate a “lei-water” system so there is always the sound of running water somewhere in town!
Hedonist Hippy recommends
Lah-Di-Dah – lovely garden in summer and quirky shop as well as breakfasts and light lunches (daytime only).
Gallery Café – a la carte dining in art gallery – open every night.
Simply Saffron – fantastic indian food with a karoo twist in an intimate setting – Fri & Sat evenings only. Booking essential. Also offer massage, healing treatments and yoga classes.
Café O – situated at O for Olive farm 3km out of town. Wonderful views and outside seating area serving lovely light lunches. Fully licensed and open daytimes only Tues – Sun.
Art Karoo – beautiful and quirky artwork made from found objects
Avoova – unique, handcrafted mosaic gifts, using ostrich eggshells – beautiful functional pieces and jewellery.
The Weavery – mohair rugs for sale and made to order
Cinnamon and Grace – lovely gift ideas shop
Prince of Africa – knitted mohair goods and wool for sale
My Shire Labyrinth – walk this 11 circuit medieval labyrinth which is set in the most stunning scenery – a truly soul lifting experience. 25km out of town (dirt road) – follow signs to Weltevrede Fig Farm, turn right at T-junction, 2km further on to sign Witplaat, bear right and park in field. No charge, but donations welcome and wheelchair friendly.
Waterkop Lodge – eco estate that consists of 3 self-catering cottages situated 3km out of town down a dirt road. Well equipped with beautiful karoo views and amazing star gazing!
Country Store – lovely ensuite bedrooms with breakfast provided in tranquil, pretty garden.
Swartberg Hotel – the grand old lady of the town – beautifully renovated with a great stoep for eating, drinking and people watching.
Karoo View Cottages – beautifully decorated and equipped self catering units with, as the name suggests, views over the Karoo to die for! The garden is indigenous with meandering paths through the veld and it is also pet friendly.
Akkedis – this is a beautiful, old stone cottage that sleeps 4 with 2 full bathrooms. It’s very stylishly decorated with outside areas for lazy summer dining and a lovely fireplace for cosy winter evenings.
The Swartberg Pass – Awe inspiring drive on narrow dirt road as it winds around the mountain. Spectacular scenery and a photographer’s dream. Not for anyone with fear of heights! 4 x 4 vehicles are not necessary, but sports cars not recommended! PLEASE NOTE: The Pass is closed on the Prince Albert side at present – it will hopefully be open again before the end of 2017.
Meiringspoort – equally beautiful and tar all the way. It meanders alongside the river which has cut a path through the mountains.
There is no rush in the village – sometimes for those used to the ways of the City the service can seem slow, but for the sake of your blood pressure it’s best just to chill out and enjoy the pace of life while visiting!
It’s worth spending more than just one night here to fully appreciate the space and tranquility and to wind down into Prince Albert time! If you stay long enough the Karoo will find a spot in your heart and stay with you forever.