Have you ever driven through the Karoo and wondered who would choose to live here? What on earth is there to do in this desolate desert?
Well that was me… until a few months ago when I discovered Prince Albert!
This tiny town is about half an hour off the N1 between Beaufort West and Laingsburg and, although I’d heard it’s name mentioned many times, I’d never paid it a visit… Boy have I been missing out.
I was blown away!
In my mind I had imagined a deserted hamlet, what I found was a pretty main road lined with trees, gorgeous cottage gardens with tumbling jasmine and wisteria, quirky little shops and lively Saturday morning markets where the town comes alive!
I was invited to stay in the town by the lovely Julie from Karoo View Cottages, and on realising that we would be driving about 4 hours to get there from Cape Town (and back again) we decided to extend our weekend stay by one day and leave on the Thursday afternoon straight from the school gate… and it was the best decision we made.
A long weekend is the perfect amount of time to explore this picturesque town of Prince Albert and the multitude of things to do, including the incredible Swartberg Pass that links the town to Oudtshoorn.
After a beautiful drive via the N1 passing through the Hex River Valley, we arrived at our destination around 6 in the evening.
Karoo View Cottages is located up a road about 10 mins walk from the centre of town. Their location is the perfect balance between staying out beneath the starry skies of the Great Karoo desert and being close enough to the hub of the town to enjoy it’s delights.
The first thing that struck us about our cottage was most definitely the view! This spot really lives up to it’s name with this incredible vista to look out on every day…
The accommodation comprises of 4 self-catering cottages each with a private patio, large open plan lounge/ bedroom, a bathroom with a shower and a small, fully-equipped kitchen. All 4 of us stayed in the one room – two double beds, but you could just as easily book out the two neighbouring cottages as they have inter-leading doors for a bit more privacy (esp useful if you have older kids)
During summer I think this arrangement might have worked better for us as we could have retired to the patio to chat, but as we were there in the cooler months this wasn’t really an option – we wanted to be near the fire too… so we made a plan rigged up a blanket and chairs to block off the TV from the kids! Memory making I tell you…
The next morning we were up early to enjoy the delicious homemade rusks supplied in our room with a cup of tea on our patio. Watching the sunrise from behind the Swartberg mountains while listening to the early morning bird chatter has to be one of the loveliest ways to greet a day! We all just sat in silence and absorbed the scene before us with awe…
Then it was time to explore… first a little bit more of the Karoo View property, and then on to the town!
Karoo View has a lovely indigenious garden filled with a variety of interesting succulents, many of which were in bloom after their recent rains…
There are little paths between the plants and plenty of space for stretching legs of 2 and 4 legged children 😉 In fact Karoo View Cottages are quite welcoming of pets, provided they are friendly towards their own 2 dogs!
We also stumbled across their veggie garden, where they grow most of their own food…
Then it was time to plan our stay… and first on our list was a drive over the Swartberg Pass.
I recall, in the recesses of my childhood memory, a time when my own parents drove this road. We were all piled into our “kombi”, off to visit our extended family on a farm in the Karoo. I do remember my dad getting rather stressed out about the drive… but then again he has never liked heights 😉
But I’ll share more about our Swartberg experience, and the other things we got up to in Prince Albert, in a future post… so come back soon!
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