Onse Rus Guesthouse Description
Nestled at the foot of the majestic Swartberg is the quiet and serene village of Prince Albert. Here time is suspended in the dry crisp Karoo air. Onse Rus has been at the heart of Prince Albert since 1852 capturing its warm and friendly ambience under its thatched roof. You will immediately feel at home as you slow down to the relaxed pace of country life and take time to experience the simple beauty. Each of the 5 ensuite guest rooms offers their own special character with private entrances and patios away from the main house. After breathing the fresh country air, you’ll sleep soundly on the comfy beds with crisp cotton linen and mohair blankets. On arrival you are welcomed with tea and homemade chocolate cake in the garden – included farmhouse breakfast of homemade muesli, fresh farm dairy products, fruit juice, bacon and eggs with mouth watering local preserves.
Once considered impenetrable, there are three routes – The Swartberg Pass, Meiringspoort and Seweweekspoort linking the Great Karoo with the Little Karoo and the coast. The Swartberg Loop takes you through two of them - Meiringspoort and the Swartberg Pass. Both are on Prince Albert's doorstep, and with their awesome beauty and many opportunities for recreation, should be on every visitor's itinerary. Leave the Route 62 at Calitzdorp Oudtshoorn or De Rust. This will bring you through some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in South Africa to the Southern edge of the Great Karoo where you will discover the small town of Prince Albert nestling at the foot of the mighty Swartberg. This massive range forms the Southern edge of the African continental plate. Its tortured rock formations thrusting high above the plains bear’s timeless testimony to the ancient tectonic collisions of a world in the making. Here, the Creator had fun. The great symphonic swirls of multi-hued sandstone strata cut through by deep ravines separate the narrow terraces of the Little Karoo from the great interior plateau named “The Dry Country” of Karoo by the ancient San people. Explorers, writers and artists of past centuries – la Vaillant, Lawrence Green, Pierneef, Schreiner – have traversed these plains & captured the dramatic impact and magic of its landscapes & wildlife in words and pictures for generations of travellers to come. The Swartberg is a magnificent backdrop to the village of Prince Albert. 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 1583 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 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 Eland's Pass - an unforgettable journey of breathtaking zigzags dropping dramatically to the valley 1000 meters below. The turnoff to Gamkaskloof is 25 km from Prince Albert, on the Swartberg Pass ascent. Visitors should allow at least 6 hours for the return trip to Prince 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. 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 25 times. Entry to the Poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prince Albert en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants, including indigenous pelargoniums, 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. The town is a living record of South African rural life over the last two centuries during which well-watered orchards and colourful gardens have been patiently coaxed from the harsh African wilderness. Prince 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 both the endless plains and the towering peaks. 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 crowed with stars. The high wide sky and broad landscapes of their surroundings have infused the community with the peacefulness & patience that have equipped them to endure past hardships & with which they will endure future ones.