Words and photographs by Chris Marais
Welcome to Prince Albert, the little Karoo village in the shadow of the Swartberg mountain range. It’s time to unpack and wander the streets.
- Water Furrows
Also known as leivore, these furrows bring Prince Albert’s legendary water to residents’ gardens on a rotational basis. There’s nothing that says “Karoo” quite like the gurgling of a running water furrow in the early evening after a belting hot day.
- The Swartberg
When you’re in Prince Albert, you realise how this magnificent range of mountains stands there like a giant guardian, with its moods and cloudscapes and incredible vistas. Take up drive up the Swartberg Pass for special landscapes.
- Food Matters
Whether you’ve signed up for a cooking class, visiting the Saturday morning market or enjoying a sumptuous meal in one of the numerous Prince Albert restaurants, you know you’re in the presence of fresh, straight-from-the-ground ingredients. Here’s a tip: try the figs, they’re delicious!
- Sunsets over Prince Albert
Find a spot on, say, Gordon’s Koppie just before the sun goes down. Share a glass of something cold and watch the last rays touch the spire of the Mother Church. It’s 24/7 Karoo at its very best.
- Karoostyle Homes
Here you will still find gracious old Victorian-era houses with mud plaster, sun-baked clay bricks, cross- and Bible doors, broekie lace fretwork, real shutters and veranda roofs distinctively curved into shapes that resemble billowing ship’s sails.
“Karoo houses are aesthetically great. They’re good investments, people are nostalgic about them and, quite honestly, they’re just nicer houses to live in,” says architect Peter Whitlock. He ascribes the ‘niceness’ to the high ceilings, pleasing proportions and natural materials.
- The Swartberg Hotel Ghosts
Known as some of the most benign spooks in the Karoo, they are said to inhabit two landscape paintings in the dining room of the Swartberg Hotel on the main drag.
They’re far more pleasant than the ghost of one Chrisjan Swanepoel, a very angry spectre up on the Swartberg Pass. He was, according to legend, accidentally shot by a rather dumb wagon driver long ago.
And as your time in Prince Albert goes on, you’ll be able to add your own experiences to this list. Why not contact us with your Prince Albert highlights?
Check out 5 more things to do in Prince Albert.