March 2017 SA Cruises

Prince Albert - How, Why & When

21 Dec 2016. After spending the weekend in Hermanus at the Aloe Lodge, we got in our VW minibus and headed for Prince Albert. Google maps indicates that it's some 4 hours to drive from Hermanus to Prince Albert; taking the R43 to the N2, then heading east on the N2; then north on the R43 past Villiersdorp and join the N1 just north of Worcester. Go past Matjiesfontein and Laingsburg, and then turn onto the R407 and as you approach the foot of the Swartberg Mountains (and border of the great karoo), an oasis arises from the desert - Prince Albert.

Restaurants Accommodation Things to do Weekend in Prince Albert

When to visit Prince Albert

When to visit revolves around what temperature you enjoy. The summer months can get really hot, so you may want to avoid December, January and February. The best times to visit are probably the spring and autumn months. If you're at all interested in theatre, then try time your visit for when there's something on at The Showroom.

Average temperatures in Prince Albert
Source of weather info: World Weather Online

Where to stay in Prince Albert

In the warm summer months you want to be sure to stay at a spot with a pool and airconditioning.

De Bergkant Lodge

3 and 5 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

info@debergkant.com

www.debergkant.com

Tel : 023 541 1088

De Bergkant Lodge in Prince Albert

Prince Albert Country Stay

46 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

princealbertcountrystore@gmail.com

www.princealbertcountrystay.com

Tel : 023 541 1077

Cell : 072 637 2826

For those with large families, Prince Albert Country Stay has a cottage with 3 single beds and 4 bunk beds.

Mai's Guest Lodge

Has a pool & airconditioning

81 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

maisguestlodge@gmail.com

www.maisbandb.co.za

 

Mai's B&B

Swartberg Hotel

77 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

info@swartberghotel.co.za

www.swartberghotel.co.za

Tel: 023 541 1332

Motorbikes visiting the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert
Bushman Valley

Klaarstroom Road
Swartberg Private Nature Reserve
6930
Prince Albert
Western Cape Province
South Africa

bushmanvalley1@gmail.com

bushmanvalley.com

Cell: 082 452 8134

Karoo Rust

Self catering

Cnr Church & Luttig Streets
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

 

www.karoorust.com

Tel: 023 541 1518

Cell: 971 400 8495

Karoo Rust self catering accommodation

Karoo Lodge

Has a pool.

66 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

elsabegeorge@karoolodge.com

www.karoolodge.com

Tel: 023 541 1467

Cell: 082 692 7736

Karoo Lodge guest house

Die Kuierhuis

(self-catering)

51 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

  Tel: 021 5411 675
Die Kuierhuis self catering accommodation in Prince Albert

Sudden Comfort B&B

Swimming pool

63 Church Street
Prince Albert
6930
Western Cape Province
South Africa

info@suddencomfort.co.za

www.suddencomfort.co.za

Tel: 023 5411 028

Cell: 023 5411 028

Sudden Comfort B&B in Prince Albert
 
Sudden Comfort B&B in Prince Albert, with parking lot

 

Things to do

  1. Travel to Die Hel (see above)
  2. Visit Gay's Guernsey Dairy
  3. Eat at African Relish
  4. Take the Prince Albert Red Bus Tour
  5. Visit the Fransie Pienaar Museum
  6. Visit Villa Kruger
  7. Visit the O for Olive Farm Shop
  8. Visit Wolwekraal Nature Reserve.
  9. Visit The Showroom
  10. Visit The Story Weaver (takes you for a walk around the town and shares stories and facts)
  11. Visit Avoova
  12. Visit the Watershed
  13. Visit Greg Kerr Art Gallery

Gay's Dairy

Go visit Gay's Guernsey Dairy, at the site of the buildings of the farm Queekvalleij, to taste cheese, drink milk and drinking yoghurt. The dairy is a family run business. Remember to take a cool bag so you can take some away with you.

Gay's Dairy in Prince Albert

African Relish

Select a short half-day course or a full weekend course, and learn how to cook. They also offer accommodation, and are centrally situated on Church Street.

The Showroom Theatre

Prince Albert is home to a world class theatre - The Showroom. When seeing your travel dates, be sure to check whether they allow for this live theatre experience. The Showroom is centrally situated at 43 Church street.

The Showroom Theatre in Prince Albert

Karoo Gallery Shop

Karoo Gallery Shop in Prince Albert

Prince of Africa

Prince of Africa in Prince Albert

 

Restaurants

A word of warning for those who are from the city; at Prince Albert's restaurants the pace is slow, either embrace it or you're not going to enjoy your meal.

Enough Farm Roastery

The Enough Farm Roastery is a new restaurant in Prince Albert. It's situated in De Beer Street, I don't have the number but it's on the stretch of De Beer Street between Deurdrift and Pastorie. If Prince Albert is laid back, then the Enough Farm Roastery, by virtue of not being situated on Church Street, has an even more laid back feel to it.

We arrived at about 14h00 on Tuesday (a party of 4 adults and 6 children) and found ourselves the only ones there. A couple of us ordered the lentil babotie, which was enjoyable, although slightly on the dry side once the chutney was added it was close to perfect. The kids loved the waffles they made, which were thick and filling. The iced coffees were most enjoyable. Just after we ordered we saw a water getting R50 from the till, and running off - turns out they'd run out of ice cream to make the milkshakes with, and were racing off to Spar to get some more :)

If you've got children in tow, they'll have some space to run around in, in the garden next to the restaurant.

Here's an interesting garden at the Enough Farm Roastery:

Garden at the Enough Farm Roastery

Tables at the Enough Farm Roastery:

Tables at the Enough Farm Roastery

Lazy Lizard Restaurant

We didn't get a chance to visit The Lazy Lizard.

Lazy Lizard restaurant

O is for Olive

The restaurant, "O is for Olive", is a stretch out of town along a dirt road, and is not worth the effort of getting to. We (4 adults & 6 kids) arrived there for lunch, and told them we'd take an outside table. The dishes on the table hadn't been cleared. Eventually after 30 minutes of waiting we took the dishes inside, and a waitress told us that they'd run out of food, and could only serve drinks and sweets. Why they didn't tell us in the first place, I don't know.

Outside sitting srea at 'O is for Olive'

And as the name would suggest, there are olive trees. Here's a photo of them from the back:

Olive trees at 'O is for Olive'

7 Arches Gallery Cafe

"The Coffee Shop"

"The Coffee Shop" in Prince Albert

La-Di-Dah

A family friendly owner-managed restaurant, with space at the back where the kids can run around (no pool to have to worry about the little ones falling into). In fact, you can request a picnic basket and relax on the lawn next to the dam.

  • Address: 6a Church Street

  • Phone: 023 541 1846

 

Barbara Davis's Weekend Visit to Prince Albert

11/12 May 2013. Too little, too far? Definitely not. Someone asked me why we are going all the way to Prince Albert (4-hour drive from Cape Town) just for a weekend and not much to see. Well, as it turns out, there was quite a lot to see and this was probably our best local away-weekend that we have ever had. Advertised in the Country Life magazine, was an offer of a 2-night stay at Dennehof B&B (4 star) which included a trip down to Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) in their 4x4 with their tour-guide at what we thought was a very reasonable price – R1500 per person. We arrived in Prince Albert at about 14h00 on Friday and after booking into Dennehof we headed straight for Church Street, the main street where it all happens! We had a good lunch on the verandah at the Swartberg Hotel, before exploring the gift and antique shops on Church Street. We also went into some of the side roads and really enjoyed all the little, well-maintained houses.

Our first amazing find was a small Wine Estate called SoetKaroo, where the husband and wife team make dessert wine from their own grapes. They do everything on their farm – grow the grapes, prepare and bottle the dessert wine.    We tasted their Red Hanepoort - Red Muscat D’Alexandrie and boy was that good – no doubt we bought some. They are a registered wine estate – in fact the first in the Great Karoo – and the wines are only sold from their cellar.

Soetkaroo wine tasting

Our next find was Gay’s Guernsey Dairy – also in Church Street.   Here all their products are natural, unpasteurised and free of hormones and antibiotics.    At the back of the dairy are the fields and you can see the Guernsey cows happily grazing in the fields – I thought I saw one of them smile!!     Inside, we tasted various cheeses in their specially fitted cheese room (we thought we were in Holland for a moment) - our favourite being the Cumin cheese and their Parmesan cheese.   The names of the cheeses reflect the local heritage such as Prince Albert Royal, Prince Albert Regal and Queen Victoria.

At this stage it was nearing 18h00 so we decided to visit the Bush Pub for a beer, which we saw advertised along Church Street.   This was a real outdoor bush pub and on a Saturday and Sunday, you can buy your braai meat at the pub and they provide a huge communal fire on which you can braai your meat.    We thought this was a great idea but as our trip down Gamkaskloof was planned for Saturday, we could not partake in this.

Unfortunately a truck had overturned on the road outside Prince Albert and hit one of the transformers which plunged Prince Albert into darkness. As a result, the options for dinner were limited so we settled on a burger at the Swartberg Arms, which I must say was quite delicious. Our room at Dennehof had its own fireplace and after a couple of hours in front of the fire with a sherry or two, we went to bed fairly early in anticipation of our trip to “Die Hel” the next day.  
The next morning we awoke to another perfect day and after the most scrumptious 4-star breakfast, our tour guide picked us up and after collecting 3 other guests we were on our way. The turnoff to Gamkaskloof is along the Swartberg Pass. Our guide, Lindsay, however, took us first to the top of the Pass (Die Top) so that we could see the views from there - the stillness and the view from “Die Top” was quite breathtaking. Lindsay was a very knowledgeable guide and he was able to answer all our many questions.

After “Die Top”, we backtracked a bit to find the turnoff to Gamkasloof (“Die Hel”).    Here again, we stopped at various spots where Lindsay would impart his vast knowledge on the area. He told us where the name supposedly came from: an animal inspector called Piet Botha visited the valley in the 1940s and used a particularly difficult route known as the 'die leer' into the valley. When he was asked about his trip he described the experience as "hell".  The name then stuck although according to the internet the locals don’t like the name and prefer to be called “kloovers” – meaning canyon dwellers. The road to the end was 48km long and this took us 2,5 hours – it seems unbelievable but the road was quite treacherous – I hope that this shows in the pictures.  We crossed 1 or 2 rivers and according to Lindsay many people underestimate the depth of the rivers and get stuck – they then have to wait for someone to come along to rescue them – we were very pleased that our guide was very experienced and responsible.

Gamkaskloof - Die Hel

One of our companions in the car was scared of heights so each time the drop was on his side, we had to swop places in the car so that he could look at the view – this was quite amusing. At one place along the road where it is really narrow, you have to look at a particular spot and if no cars are coming you have to wait 5 minutes before moving along because if you get stuck with a car in the opposite direction you have to reverse a long way on a very narrow, steep and winding road.   We were again very grateful for our experienced tour guide. We saw 2 Klipspringers and Black Eagles along the way.

When we got to the bottom Lindsay took us into some of the original houses that were built in the early 1800s and related some of the stories and history of the area. This is a fascinating experience to see where these farmers lived and how they coped and the stories of how some of them walked out of the valley to seek medical help or to bring supplies is really quite amazing – it led us to discuss how easy life has become and perhaps how lazy we have all become as we have all the comforts at hand. 

There is only 1 remaining born and bred inhabitant of Gamkaskloof who retained property – namely Annetjie Joubert (neé Mostert).   She returned in the late 1990’s and converted the original farmstead into guesthouses. There’s a caravan park and campsites which are apparently quite well supported in summer and a kiosk and licensed restaurant at which we had lunch that day – a very tasty lunch of lamb chops and vegetables and coffee pudding and custard as pudding. Cape Nature now own most of the land (except that which Annetjie Joubert owns) and we visited their office in The Hell.    It was quite interesting as they have the history of the area on display. We proceeded on our return trip and arrived safely back at Dennehof around 16h30. It was a most enjoyable day and it led us to reflect that South Africa has many beautiful places and our visit to Prince Albert and Gamkaskloof certainly confirmed for us that Prince Albert, which is 250 years old, is one of them and why it was voted as Town of the Year for 2012.

Gamkaskloof


May 2013

 


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