Discover the Charming Town of Prince Albert

Founded in 1762, the picturesque town of Prince Albert is located on the southernmost edge of the Great Karoo, with the majestic Swartberg Mountains as a backdrop. Thirteen of its beautifully preserved Cape Dutch, Victorian and typically Karoo-style buildings have been declared as National Monuments and the people who call Prince Albert home are keen to share their town’s rich cultural heritage with visitors, which they do in some novel ways, including the Prince Albert Ghost Walk conducted by the town’s very own story-weaver and Art After Dark accompanied by local artist Hennie Boshoff. The town is also the venue of the very popular Prince Albert Olive Festival which takes place in April each year and features loads of entertainment and activities.

A visit to the town’s Fransie Pienaar Museum offers insight into the history of the town, its people and the surrounding area. Initially based on the personal collection of Fransie Pienaar – born on the farm Lammerkraal in 1897 and a lifetime resident of Prince Albert – the museum’s collection continues to grow with donations made by Prince Albert inhabitants. Included in the museum’s displays are an interesting collection of fossils; an extensive collection of musical instruments, porcelain items, glassware, earthenware and paintings; and a collection of weapons displayed in the gunroom. The museum also features a bedroom fitted with antique furnishings and complete with a nursery corner, as well as a medical section detailing the history of the local hospital and doctors. Displays set out the construction of the Swartberg Pass, along with the history of Gamkaskloof and Meiringspoort and the impact of the 1890s Gold Rush on the town. Other items in the museum include works by local artists, beautifully carved woodwork, Victorian clothing, needlework items, and a library and archive with diaries and historical records. Visitors can stroll through the gardens of the museum, view the horse-drawn hearse, carts, farm equipment and winepress and stock up on olive products and ‘witblits’ distilled according to age-old traditions at the museum’s shop. Across the road from the museum is the Prince Albert Art Gallery with exhibitions by South African artists, ceramicists, photographers and sculptors.

Other activities in and around Prince Albert include guided walks in the Karoo with Renu-Karoo ecotours; wine-tasting at local wineries Bergwater, Fernskloof, SoetKaroo and Reiersvlei; visits to local olive farms Swartrivier and Kredouw; hiking; golfing; 4×4 and mountain biking; and tours anywhere in the surrounding area with John’s Donkey.

Prince Albert may be somewhat off-the-beaten-track, but there is plenty to do and see, all accompanied by a generous measure of Karoo hospitality.