The morning drive was very easy, and as usual, free of other traffic. We had the choice of making a 300 km loop down to the ocean and back up to Oudtshoorn or visiting Prince Albert and crossing the Swartberg Pass – we decided on the latter!
Initially the drive was on a pencil straight road through the Karoo bushland with goats, sheep (different breeds) and cattle grazing – very similar to northern Arizona – and corner chimneyed karoo style houses dotting the landscape. We drove closer and closer to the mountains until we took a turn that took us through a gorge with the most amazing rock formations- diagonally slanted sandstone blocks. The little town of Prince Albert was on the other side and we made a well-deserved stop to peruse the main street and enjoy delicious lemonade and apple pie on the porch of the Lazy Lizard. We also got caught in a sea of Merino sheep being herded out of the field and down the road!
Leaving Prince Albert we took the dirt road that goes over the Swartberg Pass. Whoo! what a ride – switchback turns with virtually no guard and we could see the trail winding its way up the mountain and then once reaching the summit, down the other side and hour and half later!
On the other side of Oudtshoorn we arrived at our destination: Rietfontein Ostrich Palace – an ostrich farm. We had ferocious winds that turned to a rain storm (much needed) during our dinner. The farm has been in family ownership since 1846 and was first ostrich farm in the valley. The buildings date from 1906 and our little “Emma’s Cottage” was luxury personified. The lounge and restaurant are in the former stables/barn converted into very comfortable and appealing settings.
Dinner was comparable with any first class restaurant anywhere in the world and comprised:
Ostrich liver pate with fresh-baked bread and candied figs
Mushroom stuffed with baked brie and cranberry
Black Forest Ham wrapped around fresh fig
Ostrich fillet with new potatoes, julienned carrots and beans
Apple tartine with whipped cream.