If wide open spaces and a deafening stillness appeal to you, if small Karoo towns make you happy, then Prince Albert is your kind of town. But just because it’s peaceful, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on. Here are some of the many and varied things to do in Prince Albert, Karoo.
1. Visit the museum
2. Visit the Albert Mill
3. Sample some Prince Albert restaurants
4. Walk or cycle around with your camera
5. Learn about Karoo plants on a guided walk
If Karoo plants are your thing, contact Renu Karoo to book a fascinating two-hour guided walk with Dr Sue Milton-Dean at Wolwekraal Nature Reserve. She’ll tell you about her and Dr Richard Dean’s work supplying indigenous plants and seeds to restore the Karoo veld after overgrazing and mining damage. But it’s not all about plants; you’ll learn about the geology, natural and cultural history of the area too.
6. See the dustbin ‘art gallery’
7. Meet the Burghers of Prince Albert
8. Browse the Saturday morning market
9. Say cheese
10. Meet Prince Albert’s ghosts
11. Visit the Swartberg Hotel
12. Visit an olive farm
Visit one of Prince Albert’s olive farms Kredouw, O for Olive or Prince Albert Olives for an olive oil tasting or to buy some of their products. You can also book ahead for a tour where you can learn about how olives are grown and processed. Blends of extra virgin olive oil – the one to look for – include varieties like Frantoio, Leccino, Coratina and Favolosa.
13. Take in a show
14. Look at the stars
Stargazing in the Karoo is always a treat because of the dry, clear air and lack of light pollution. Don’t forget to look up to admire the planets and constellations like the Milky Way. Try to walk into the open somewhere away from lights, trees and buildings to get the best view of the panoramic night sky.
15. Go shopping
16. Visit a fig farm
You’ll find Weltevrede Fig Farm 25km outside Prince Albert. It’s a huge operation with around 2000 fig trees. Fig season (January to May) is the best time to visit but you need to book ahead. They grow mainly the big purple Adam figs, but also Cape Brown figs. There’s a small shop on the farm that sells them fresh, dry and bottled.
17. Stay over for a night or three
On our most recent stay, we settled in at the lovely Karoo Khaya on a smallholding on the edge of town – perfect for its beautiful surroundings, warm hospitality and peace. Inside are stone floors, warm wood finishes, enamel pots, mugs and tins as decor. Outside, there’s a stoep for cooling off with sundowners and a patch of garden with green grass and trees, cacti and succulents. It was an oasis in the scorching heat where birds like Cape robin and sunbirds came to visit. You’re welcome to pick veggies from the veggie plot; despite the heavy drought we found frilly lettuce, beetroot and mulberries.
To find out more about this charming stop, read point 7 in my compilation of budget-friendly accommodation in the Western Cape.
18. Drive the Swartberg Pass
Read more about the Swartberg Pass
19. Get active in the Swartberg Nature Reserve
The entrance to Swartberg Nature Reserve is at the top of the Swartberg Pass. There are a number of hiking trails, from one day to three days, and an overnight 4x4 route. You can also mountain bike in the reserve at certain times of year. Lindsay Steyn of Dennehof Tours knows the area well and can take you hiking or cycling without you having to worry about getting lost.
20. Stay over at Gamkaskloof
21. Drive through Meiringspoort
55km east of Prince Albert is Meiringspoort and it’s worth a detour on your way to or from Prince Albert. The 25km road winds through the gorge, around 63 bends, and crosses the Groot River more than 20 times. It’s a scenic journey presenting wonderful views of steep cliff walls and red rock formations.
Obviously, this isn’t a complete list of everything there is to do in Prince Albert and the surrounding area, but it should give you some inspiration for your next visit. Other ideas include birding safaris, open art studios and art galleries, and a donkey sanctuary. For more information on Prince Albert’s history, attractions and accommodation, take a ramble through Prince Albert Tourism’s website.
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