Bushmen were the earliest inhabitants of the area and remains of their culture are still to be found in the district. In 1762 the first loanfarms were made available in this area and Kweekvallei, the farm on which Prince Albert later developed, was allocated to Zacharias de Beer. The farm proved to be very fertile, and with plentiful water from the mountain stream De Beer soon established fruit orchards, vineyards and wheat fields. He also farmed with sheep and cattle and Kweekvallei soon became well known as a stop-over for travellers and explorers, weary from the long trek across the barren Karoo, were delighted by the hospitality they received and the excellent fresh produce and wine with which they were entertained.
In 1842 a Dutch Reformed Church parish was established and in 1845 the little village was officially named Prince Albert in honour of Queen Victoria’s consort.
Gold was discovered in the area and in 1891 there was a gold-rush on the farm Spreewfontein. At the same time the ostrich feather market boomed in Europe and Prince Albert experienced great prosperity.
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 25 times. Entry to the poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 km east of Prince Albert en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants, including the indigenous pelargoniums, cling to the precarious rockfaces while birds, baboons and smaller fauna abound in the protected kloofs and crevices. Among the most scenic spots is the waterfall tumbling into a dark pool which, legend has it, is bottomless. Meiringspoort has been flooded several times in its 140-year history - 1885, 1968 and 1996 were devastating - and so the idea for building a high road over the mountains was born. The Swartberg Pass was opened in 1888.
The 27-km Swartberg Pass is considered one of the finest mountain passes in the world: a untarred road that winds to the summit 1 583 meters above sea level in steep zig zags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views at every turn. The road is supported in places by hand-packed stone walls, a trademark of brilliant road engineer Thomas Charles Bain. Along the way there are relics of an old prison, toll hut and other interesting historical sites. Often covered with snow in winter, the mountain’s unique micro-climate 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.
Related content: Swartberg Pass – a MUST for any bucket list of road trips!
Gamkaskloof (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 only on foot or horseback, and harvests of dried fruit and wild honey were carried out by pack animals. When a road was carved into the valley in 1962, a gradual exodus began, with the last farmer, Piet Swanepoel, leaving in 1991. Their modest homes and relics of fruit orchards can still be seen. Access to Gamkaskloof is 15 kms from Prince Albert near the northern summit of the Swartberg Pass. Visitors should allow almost a full day in a sturdy vehicle to travel the 57 kms to the end of the valley and back.
Nieuwewerf is a premium collection of luxury, accessible, fully contained, self-catering guesthouses. Three guesthouses are part of our masterclass portfolio:- Nieuwehuyz, Nieuwerust and Nieuweschuur
A reserve for those with a deeper and more profound connection to nature. Roam Private Game Reserve has been set-up to create a safe haven for wildlife to enjoy...
A peaceful, self-catering farm-stay, walking distance from historical Prince Albert awaits at Yellow House. A great spot for mountain bikers, adventure rides and hikers, close to the Swartberg...
Yellow House is situated on the edge of the beautiful and quaint Karoo town, Prince Albert.
Elfen House is a beautiful luxurious historically restored house with a braai and entertainment area We also offer 2 comfortable cottages (Elfen cottage and Koppie Cottage), including aircon and...
Five star luxury accommodation on the edge of the Great Karoo
Ta Mala's cottage is situated in the centre of the picturesque town of Prince Albert. These self catering cottages are very spacious and equipped with all the necessities one...
Situated on a small holding in the heart of the beautiful village of Prince Albert at the foot of the Swartberg pass. 4 cottages, an organic...
A large, beautiful home set in an established garden with additional cottage and swimming pool, all centrally situated in the main hub of Prince Albert. Perfect for families...
Luxury private self catering units with private braai areas, parking on your doorstep, massive rooms, fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms. All you need to stop over...
The Olive Thrush cottage offers a peaceful and tranquil retreat, within a few minutes’ walk from the Karoo’s beautiful countryside and about a ten minutes’ walk from the picturesque...
Travellers Rest in Prince Albert is a bed and breakfast offering one twin room and three double rooms all situated in a semi-mature garden. Look forward to a wonderful holiday...
Historic Guesthouse in the centre of town.
Wolvekraal guest farm has 3 self-catering, fully equipped cottages and one room, situated on a commercial Sheep farm only 8km from the town of Prince Albert
Surround yourself with the nothingness - The Great Karoo is in the middle of nowhere but is the heart of everything. Prins Albert is situated at the foot of...
Bushman Valley is located in the foothills of the Swartberg mountain area. It offers hiking and a quiet retreat away from hussle and bustle.
Experience the grandeur of South Africa's unexplored spaces from Prince Albert's oldest homestead, a serene & comfortable base at the foot of the Swartberg Pass.
Prince Albert and Cape Town - 406 km
Prince Alberp and Beaufort West - 154 km
Prince Albert and Laingsburg - 125 km
Prince Albert and Matjiesfontein - 151 km
Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn via Swartberg Pass (partly gravel road) - 75 km
Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn via Meiringspoort (tar-road) - 110km
Prince Albert and George via Meiringspoort - 169km
Prince Albert and George via Swartberg Pass - 134km
686 metres above sea level
Average daily temperature
Summer day = 35ºC Summer night = 17ºC
Winter day = 18ºC Winter night = 2ºC
per year = 170 mm
per month = between 5 and 10 mm
Town size area:
Prince Albert is 4 x 2 km² in size
Rivers in Prince Albert area:
Gamkariver - Main river flowing through the Coup (Karoo north of Prince Albert).
The water is from the Beaufort West area and flows into Gamkapoortdam
Dwykariver - The river flows west from Prince Albert into Gamkapoortdam
Swartrivier - The rivers water is from all the Mountain streams that flow together towards the Gamkapoortdam
Dorpsrivier - The mountain stream that flows from the Swartberg Mountain and ends in Swartrivier
Trakarivier - The river starts from the East flows to Stopdriftdam (near De Rust - Klein Karoo
Dams in our area:
Oukloofdam - Lies 10km East from town
Gamkapoortdam - Lies 42km West from town at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains
An annual olive festival, harvest festival, agricultural show, performances at the Jans Rautenbach Schauwberg, art exhibitions and workshops, and culinary courses offered by the new African Relish culinary school and restaurant.
Sporting facilities and events:
Tennis, rugby, running and cycle club. Gym, water aerobics in season, Pilates.
Motor cycle and vintage car rallies.
Book clubs, Garden Club, Birders, Bridge, Scrabble and Poker.
Swartberg Country Lodge - Conference Room Tel: 023-5411 332