The charming village of De Rust is situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains in the Little Karoo. De Rust is a scenic little town with beautiful Karoo houses situated amongst some steep Swartberg foothills. After climbing one of these hills in town, you will reach the top from where you will have spectacular views towards the majestic Swartberg and Kammanassie Mountains.
We like to think that the little Karoo has big offerings. You can reach Oudtshoorn and the Cango caves in 30 min drive. George and the rest of the Garden Route is all less than an hours drive away. The Swartberg pass and the very famous road to the Hell (Gamkaskloof) are both attractions for outdoor enthusiasts. Fishing, mountain biking, birdwathcing and wine tasting are some of the activities available.
WONDER OF NATURE
With towering sandstone cliff walls, displaying exquisite rock formations, the 25km long Meiringspoort is indeed a wonder of nature. The tarred road winds along the Great River (Groot Rivier), crossing the gorge floor 25 times, and each ‘drift’ has a signposted name. Indigenous plant species flourish on these rocky surfaces, and birds, baboons and smaller mammals are prolific in the protected kloofs.
Take a slow drive to enjoy the scenery, stop and drink the water, pack a picnic and have a swim after a short hike to the Meiringspoort Waterfall. The well-cared for rest and picnic areas are safe and a pleasant way to enjoy the views. For the more active, enter the Meiringspoort Marathon that takes place in October every year.
RED- COLOURED CAVES
Outside the town towards Oudtshoorn travellers can visit a national heritage site that consists of red- coloured open caves, known as the unique ‘Red Hills’. This is the only spot known in the world where the conglomerate stone Enon appears above the earth. Take the 1½ hour hiking trail on the farm of Mons Ruber to explore. A permit is available from the Mons Ruber wine tasting centre.
The winding and scenic farm road of Oude Muragie (gravel road) will take you to the Cango Caves, only 35km from De Rust.
THE SWARTBERG PASS
The Swartberg Pass, a gravel road, was built by Thomas Bain more than 100 years ago, and reaches an altitude of 1,585 m above sea level. The pass links Prince Albert in the Great Karoo with Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo. Its breathtaking scenery demands that you get out of your car and experience the real beauty of mother nature – about one hour’s drive from De Rust.
We recommend you drive the Circle Route from De Rust through Meiringspoort via Klaarstroom, to Prince Albert. Take the Swartberg Pass to Oudtshoorn, and back to De Rust. The route is 168km and can take 4-8 hours depending on how many stops you wish to make.
IT KICKS LIKE A MULE
Travellers rushing towards Meiringspoort mostly miss Klaarstroom and that’s a real pity because its one winding untarred road ushers visitors into yesteryear. This hamlet, steeped in stories, has been the keeper of many secrets since farmers, attracted by the abundant, clear mountain streams, first settled here in 1777. They called it De Claare Stroom. Farms were snapped up, magnificent houses built, and vineyards planted. The vines produced such superior grapes that the area was called Constantia. But, the farmers didn’t make wine, they made (and still make) “moonshine” or “witblitz”, it’s legally distilled and some say “it kicks like a mule”.
The first wool washing plant in South Africa was built here in 1874 by George Wallis who also built the tiny Anglican Church. South Africa’s last transport wagon also rode out from this place. The police station, which even saw a jail break, was built in 1897. It housed the Circuit Court. At the back were stables and police patrolled this area on horseback until the 1950’s.
Thirteen kilometres from De Rust on the way to Oudtshoorn, you will find the turn off to Dysselsdorp and then 1km further, the turn off for the Liquorice Extracting plant. The roots of the liquorice plant (glycrrhiza glabra) occur wild along the banks of the Olifants River and in other alluvial areas in the Little Karoo. The plant was introduced over 150 years ago by colonial powers and extract is used extensively in the confectionery, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries.