Discovering a new idea of Karoo
When the only moving thing on an otherwise static landscape is a distant cloud of dust – one lonely vehicle – you know you’re somewhere remote. This was our moment of realisation, tucked between a bush and a boulder on a koppie behind the hamlet of Prince Albert in the Klein Karoo at sunset. But this isn’t the monotonous scrubby vista that we know from our previous Karoo drive-bys on the N1 road. Prince Albert is nestled at the foot of the rugged and wild Swartberg Mountains – windswept and furrowed from one angle, lush and fertile from another (absolute must: the Meiringspoort Pass – most breathtaking drive we’ve ever done).
Learning to slow down …
The stillness of this ancient landscape brings with it a much slower pace of living. In Prince Albert everything takes longer and if you’re not used to leisurely living you quickly learn. Here, people take time to chat – no polite hellos in passing; when they ask how you are they really want to know, and they’ll sit down with you for a while to hear. There’s an exemplary sense of community here – people are all looking out for each other, and everyone seems to be striving to make Prince Albert the haven it has become.
… and experience a smorgasbord of Karoo delights!
For such a tiny town, a phenomenal number of food stories exist – though we were there for six days, we couldn’t fit it all in! Interesting little eateries like the Prince Albert Country Store abound, but beyond that people are producing a diverse range of local products – from Gay’s ‘real’ dairy, to Carol’s divine organic lemon ice cream (not sorbet) and lemon chutney, to Lucas Jamon’s Spanish hams, Weltevrede figs, and an astonishing array of organic heirloom vegetables from Dr Reinder’s and Brett-the-vegan-vet’s gardens. Not to mention African Relish cooking school, which runs a wonderful cooking course packed with activities that get one really immersed in the culture and environment of the area. The list goes on!
Lei water, lemonade, and love
Sitting in the shade of a cafe veranda facing the Swartberg, sipping cold homemade lemonade on a hot summer’s day with the soothing sound of lei water trickling past in the little canal, we could finally appreciate what it is about the Karoo that captures peoples’ hearts and keeps them here forever.