After having driven through a dry and barren Great Karoo landscape for hours, approaching the Prince Albert Valley was a welcome change in scenery. Winding our way down into the valley, we passed fig and olive groves, vineyards and lush fields where dairy cattle were grazing peacefully. It was like our very beings had been thirsty for days, and finally received a drink of fresh, cool water.
Prince Albert is a wonderful little town, where typical Karoo houses line the streets and gardens are irrigated with the ever-flowing water in the ancient water sluices. Antique shops, art galleries and restaurants mix with traditional spazas and hardware shops supplying the farming community. In the centre of it all, the Dutch Reformed Church towers as the tallest building in the town. Like so many other Karoo towns, Prince Albert was founded by the God-fearing Boers (Afrikaans speaking farmers, seeking new land away from British rule in the Cape Colony) in the late 1700’s, for whom the church was the highest authority.
We spent the afternoon walking through town to admire the doll-house like houses with their immaculate gardens, and watching some of the quirky residents go about their business. Then we returned to our lovely little self-catering apartment and watched the sky turn a fiery orange and then fade to the most delicate dusky pink before giving way to the stars from our verandah with views of the town rooftops and the church steeple.
Later that evening, we dined in the Gallery Café surrounded by works of art. The menu was contemporary Karoo fare, and each dish was prepared to perfection. We feasted on things like springbok & ostrich carpaccio, duck liver pate, kudu fillet and duck & cherry pie. Naturally, we tried some of the wines from the valley, with the Bergwater Royal Reserve being our favourite. Dessert was the best chocolate fondant I’ve ever had!
The short time we had in Prince Albert was wonderful, and I can say with complete certainty that we will return to explore this place further! Our overnight stay in Prince Albert was courtesy of Karoo Rust, a smart little self-catering place very centrally located. They even have miniature farmstyle kitchens!
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