The quaint little Victorian town of De Rust, on Route 62, is conveniently positioned at the southern entrance to Meiringspoort - a magnificent gorge through the Swartberg Mountain Range - and just a few kilometres from Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the country.
De Rust might be small but it is charming and has become something of a haven for artists and is famous for its dessert wines and cheeses. The area, though sometimes dusty and hot, is malaria-free, safe and boasts a fantastic climate with perfect summers and gorgeous winter days, with the chill factor striking only in the evenings.
The streets are tree-lined and host to a number of wonderful examples of late 19th century architecture and the town’s drinking water comes from a mountain spring, which residents claim far surpasses that of bottled water. A visit to De Rust would be incomplete if it didn’t include a stop at Tolbos Trading where Ilse Pringle takes ordinary sheets of glass and turns them into enchanting bits and pieces.
Meiringspoort not only has an incredible botanical diversity – the plant species are so rich in this area that it would rival similar sized areas in the world and there are some very rare examples of pelargoniums (geraniums) - but it also has hundreds of birds, safe hiking trails and an array of animals from tiny field mice to the Cape mountain leopard.
Whilst the resort tends to get very busy during school holidays, it is a wonderful escape out of season and the picnic spots are clean and well looked after all year round. The great waterfall, in particular, makes a wonderful picnic backdrop.
And if you’re still short of things to do, then Red Hills, on Rietvlei farm just a few kilometres outside of De Rust, is a Natural Heritage site with red coloured open caves and something of a unique experience. This is the only spot in the world where conglomerate stone enon appears above the earth and a hiking trail on the farm allows you to explore the phenomenon.