Prince Albert Accommodation , Prince Albert, Karoo Accommodation, Western Cape, South Africa

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Places of interrest

Gamkas kloof or the hell


Also known as
"the Hell", is a fascinating valley near Prince Albert, where a small, proud community lived in isolation for more than 100 years. Access was on foot and horseback and harvests of dried fruit and wild honey were carried out by pack animals.
Legend has it that Gamkaskloof was discovered when trekboers lost their cattle and followed their spoor into the fertile valley. Petrus Swanepoel was the first to farm there and the valley supported the hard-working community until 1962 when a road was carved into the valley. A gradual exodus occurred and the last farmer to leave was Piet Swanepoel in 1991.
Now one of the Gamkaskloofers, Annetjie Joubert, has returned to the valley and shares tales of the old days with her guests.
Access to Gamkaskloof is 15km from Prince Albert, near the summit of the Swartberg Pass. Visitors should allow almost a full day in a sturdy vehicle to travel the 57km to the end of the valley and back.

The name "The Hell" is attributed to a local stock inspector, who had to make a monthly trek into Gamkaskloof to check stock for disease. The route he followed was down the steep track known as "die leer" - the ladder. On one occasion he said it was like "going to Hell and back" - and it stuck. The Gamkaskloofers DID NOT approve of the name at all.
When a Gamkaskloofer received a letter from the Receiver of Revenue addressed to "The Hell" he sent it back unopened with a note scrawled across the front: "They don't pay tax in Hell."

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Swartberg Pass

In 1881 construction began in the Swartberg Pass but it was only in 1883, when Thomas Bain took over the project, that work started in earnest. In 1886 the pass was opened to the public - but at their own risk, as construction was still under way.

klip springerSwartberg passSwartberg pass in SpringHiking in the Swartberg Mountains

The post-coach left the Prince Albert Hotel every morning at 6.00am, on one occasion the driver stopped at the little settlement at the top of the pass for a cup of coffee and returned to find his coach gone - the horses had headed back towards Prince Albert and the warmth of their stable.

The Swartberg Pass was officially opened on 10th January 1888. In 1904 Dr Russell from Oudtshoorn drove the first motorcar over the pass.

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The SoetKaroo Wine Estate is a one hectare town farm in the heart of Prince Albert and is our immediate neighbour.

Husband and wife team, Herman & Susan Perold, live in the old Cape Dutch cottage and produce dessert wine from grapes grown in their back garden.

Herman planted the vines in the year 2000. And this is where he toils tirelessly to achieve optimal quality. There are four cultivars Red Muscat d'Alexandrie (Red Hanepoot), Red Muscat de Frontignan (Red Muscadel), Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional, all suited to the hot climate of the Great Karoo.

Susan converted their garage into a small cellar and here she redefines the concept 'hand-crafted'. The small quantities enables her to scrutinize every grape that goes into the wine - "nothing goes into the wine that I won't eat". Meticulous attention to detail up to and including bottling and packaging ensures a product to be proud of.

Visitors are welcome to visit, taste and, if stocks are available, to buy.


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