Klaarstroom, Karoo

The tiny hamlet of Klaarstroom, positioned at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains at the Great Karoo entrance to Meiringspoort, is the genuine article when it comes to Victorian working farm villages - little affected by time and change in South Africa.

Klaarstroom, meaning ‘clear stream’, functioned as a stop for farmers from the Karoo on their way to Mossel Bay, to wash their precious cargo of wool in the clear mountain streams. The wool-washing facility that was established has subsequently disappeared, but the peaceful village is a perfect retreat for those wanting to explore the Great Karoo and the Karoo National Park, only 120 km north of Klaarstroom.

Time stands still here. Hot days, the vastness of blue skies above your head, the tranquillity of the endless plains of the Karoo, star-filled, crisp evenings and silence make a refreshing change to the hustle and bustle of life in the 21st century. Don’t let the size of the town fool you, there is plenty to do here. There are a number of informal mountain bike routes and walks in the surrounding veld.

Meiringspoort, the beautiful gorge through the Swartberg Mountain range linking the Groot and Klein Karoos, is definitely worth a visit. Rest sites throughout the poort provide information boards offering insight into the animals, birds and plant life here.

Prince Albert, just 60 km east of Klaarstroom, offers a Saturday morning market that includes fruit, cheese, homemade delicacies, cakes, breads and vegetables. You can stock up on Karoo lamb and enjoy an early morning cup of coffee, whilst the town’s annual Olive Festival, which usually takes place in April/May, is legendary.

Then there’s Klaarstroom's bi-annual Carp Derby at the nearby Stompdrift Dam for angling enthusiasts or Domein Doornkraal, close to Oudtshoorn (take in the Cango caves whilst you’re there), and Mons Ruber, just outside De Rust, offer indulgent wine-tasting opportunities. Make sure you take a quick look at the local police station in Klaarstroom - a charming example of Victorian architecture built in 1880.

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