Prins Albert is an oasis where water from the Swartberg runs through the lei water sluits patiently coaxing gardens and orchards to life from the harsh African wilderness. It is a record of South African rural life over the last two centuries. Essentially a farming town, it is inhabited by people who live close to the earth and who are protective of the Heartland of South Africa. An excellent infrastructure and crime free environment preserves its history and natural beauty. There is a nameless quality of life here that has lured visitors from around Southern Africa and the globe to return to make it their home. Prins Albert and its surroundings offer attractions for everybody from hikers and bikers, to birdwatchers, stargazers and botanists. Artists & writers find themselves enthralled by the stark and dramatic beauty of the endless plains and the towering peaks.
The last 150 years of South African rural history is captured in its 11 national monuments and eclectic mix of Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo architecture. More than anything else it is a place to slow down, forget the hectic pace of urban life and rediscover the bare essentials such as sunsets & thunderstorms over the plains, clear morning air & night skies crowned with stars. The high wide sky and broad landscapes have infused the community with a peacefulness and patience which has equipped them to endure past hardships and prepared them to face any eventuality. From the famous Prins Albert Ghost Walk to what's showing at the Showroom Theatre there is a multitude of things to do in our beautiful village.
Something for everyone
We have a number of fine local Wineries to visit, and of course Prins Albert is famous for its Olive and Cheese products. Apart from these options, we also have something for the more adventurous visitor:
Gamkaskloof / Die Hel
This beautiful, secluded valley, roughly 20km long and less than 1 km wide, lies hidden in the heart of the Swartberg. It was inaccessible by road until 1963. Its many streams and fertile soil once supported a community who lived there for more than 100 years in isolation. Also known as "Die Hel" it is shrouded in romantic notions of mythical communities lost in hidden mountain valleys. Relic farms and several restored cottages remain to stimulate the romance. Access was only on foot and the harvesting of dried fruit and honey were carried out by pack donkey - along seemingly impassable routes for barter with the outside world. Today, travellers can drive into Gamkaskloof along Elands Pass - an unforgettable journey of breathtaking zigzags dropping dramatically to the valley 1000 meters below. The turnoff to Gamkaskloof is 25 km from Prins Albert, on the Swartberg Pass ascent. Visitors should allow at least 6 hours for the return trip to Prins Albert. Lovingly restored self-catering accommodation and camping facilities are available in the valley allowing the imagination to wander through the web of stories, both mystical and true, of what life must have been like in this hidden valley.
Only 42 km west of Prins Albert at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains lies this wide expanse of water in the middle of the Karoo. The dam is home to hundreds of birds. Absorb the sound of silence, see buck and baboons, listen to the Fish Eagle’s call and watch birds fishing against the spectacular backdrop of the dinosaur-shaped mountains. The road to the dam is not suitable for a normal vehicle.
Marvel at towering rock faces as you criss-cross the river running through this dramatic gorge. Walk up to the waterfall with its bottomless pool where the “fabled” mermaid lives and see
Herrie’s Stone - Langenhoven’s graffiti proclaimed a National Monument. Meiringspoort is a deep cleft through the seemingly impenetrable Swartberg range. This natural passage forms a convenient link between the Great and Little Karoo. Soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations line the 25 km tarred road, which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 26 times. Entry to the Poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prins Albert en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants, including indigenous pelargonium, cling to the precarious rock faces while birds, baboons and smaller fauna abound in the protected kloofs & crevices. Among the most scenic spots is the waterfall tumbling into a dark pool that, according to legend, is bottomless. In Meiringspoort one feels insignificant against the overwhelming grandeur of the surroundings. Driving through this Poort with its winding road, the traveller is enchanted by the scenery with a kaleidoscope of every changing colour. The richness of the vegetation along the river will intrigue the plant lover and the birdwatcher will be amazed at the bird life. Meiringspoort was originally opened to traffic on the 3rd March 1858.
A must for anyone visiting Prins Albert for the first time. The 27 km Swartberg Pass is considered one of the most impressive mountain passes in the world: an untarred road that winds to the summit 1585 meters above sea level in steep zigzags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views every turn. The road is supported in places by hand-packed stonewalls, a trademark of the brilliant road engineer of the 19th Century, Thomas Charles Bain. Along the way there are relics of old prisons, tollhouses, and Way stations that bear historic testimony to past adventures. Often covered with snow in winter, the mountain's microclimate supports fynbos and a rich bird life in contrast with the arid-zone flora and fauna outside its cool shady kloofs. The Swartberg Pass was declared a National Monument in its Centenary year, 1988. Those who have crossed the pass will never forget it. Lookout for the soaring Black Eagles and the sure-footed Klipspringers.
Experience a sunset in the fruit farming valley when mountains are transformed from blue to the deepest purple and clouds are enhanced with golden orange and sultry pink hues. Drive back to town beneath our sparkling star-filled Karoo sky.
Delight yourself in our local cuisine...
We are truly blessed to have a wide variety of restaurants in town - from traditional Karoo home-style cooking to fine dining.