Prince Albert - around the village
It's one of those trendy, reinvented-for-tourism, Karoo towns with lots to do and see. Pop into the info centre (although you might want to double-check any directions given), browse little art galleries and gift stores and do the historical ox-wagon, old churches thing. Mostly we enjoyed the architecture and the back streets where the village meets the Karoo - the visual aspect of it. We couldn't help but notice the contrast between these neatly restored houses with well swept yards and the "location" just outside of town.
Prince Albert - The Lazy Lizard
Lots of spaces here to enjoy a morning coffee: a shady garden, an eclectically furnished inside area and a stoep from which to watch the world go by. Free wifi is an additional bonus.
An unplanned detour as a result of misunderstanding the directions provided by the lady at Prince Albert Info Centre meant we were about 50 kms down the road at Prins Albertweg, before we realised we were headed in completely the wrong direction. Backtracking through some of the driest, hottest, emptiest Karoo landscape you're likely to find caused some grumpiness.
On the Road
Finally on the right road, the low road through the Swartberg mountains, headed back towards Oudtshoorn. Tar sealed and less tummy-clutching than the pass of the day before, but a stunning ride nonetheless. Came across several enticing picnic stops on the way.
The caves were the reason why we backtracked, and the resulting bucket list place meets the anti-tourist experience was not a good one. I was amazed, appalled, amused and appalled again. Saddened to see such a precious natural phenomenon irrevocably damaged and disrespected by tourism. Yes, it's cheap (ZAR100 / NZD10 entry), enchantingly beautiful and extensive; and yes, at times it was very funny (albeit unintentionally) thanks to the bizarre commentary and the way the large group of visitors were divided into nationalities (Germans, Israelis and English-speaking Indians). But no, if like me you have anti tourist tendencies, don't go. A bucket list tick and fail.
Overnighted at: Kleinplas
Located: The outskirts of Oudtshoorn.
How we found it: “Camp and Caravan”
Road Access: Good.
Amenities: Spacious, flat, shaded sites with power and water, resort-style facililties with large ablutions and swimming pool.
Cost: NZD18 / ZAR180 for two adults
We were unlucky. I'm guessing that usually camping here would be fine. The shaded, level sites are nice enough and this is part of a large resort with all the associated amenities. Unfortunately our stay coincided with a badly behaved and managed Nomads Tour group that partied up a storm until the early hours of the morning. They proceeded to trash the toilets while they were at it, making it a very unpleasant experience for the other campers. To add insult to injury, at check out the staff gave us excuses rather than apologies, and Kleinplas earned my first-ever one star "terrible" TripAdvisor review.
Soundtrack: Traffic. A busy main road runs alongside the resort and if we weren't already awake at 2.00am (thanks to drunken foreign tourists), we would have been after some crazy person drove the length of the resort, hand on hooter.
Highlight: There wasn't one.
Lowlight: Noisy night and unusable ablutions the next morning.