A road trip to De Rust
At a time when the world has gone mad, there is something about sitting behind the wheel with a windscreen full of blue sky and scattered clouds that makes one wonder why we don’t explore more.
It’s not a long drive from Oudtshoorn but as the kilometers ticked off a gentle sense of simplicity settled over us, like we had been waiting to exhale. I like to think that this is a town where your soul can re-charge, I am not sure that it boasts the fastest internet speed but isn’t that what we need from time to time. The pace is gentle, the people are friendly, there are plenty of outdoor activities on offer and creativity flourishes.
Doornkraal was our first stop, a festival of pink feathers, fairy lights and many gorgeous things to buy. When the first sign you see reads ‘Spaar Water Drink Wyn’ who wouldn’t hit the brakes. Amongst a wide choice of ceramics, glasses, jams and biscuits this farm stall sells a wide selection of local artisanal gins including Six Dogs, Black Mountain and more but their Tickled Pink bubbly was the showstopper. Prominently displayed in a swirl of pink feathers, there is little doubt this is a party-in-a-bottle.
MooiKaroo is a quaint little shop selling unique gifts and crafts made by local farm ladies. The wide choice of cushions, beautifully knitted baby jerseys and shoe bags make gift shopping a pleasure. A little way down the road we popped in at Karoo Rouge, another delightful space offering visitors an opportunity to buy art, décor and gifts or to enjoy coffee, cake or milkshakes on the veranda. We loved the colourful Vellies on sale and the wide choice of Simply Bee products.
One of the stops we were most looking forward to was De Rustica. Being olive lovers, this tour and tasting was high on our list. We were met by Precilla whose passion for these small berries is contagious. She took us into the orchard and explained how the fruit is hand harvested and we had an opportunity to walk through the processing plant giving us an in-depth understanding of the complexities of olive oil pressing and how De Rustica came to be the winner of the best olive oil in the world last year. 85 000 olive trees of various varietals nestled between De Rust and Oudtshoorn produced a world class olive oil beating many entrants from traditional Mediterranean olive oil producing countries.
Our olive oil crash course taught us that it takes 5kg of olives to produce just one litre of oil. That the best olive oils are cold pressed and take 24 hours to get from tree to tank with harvesting happening between April and July depending on the crop quantity. We then learnt more about olive oil tasting and that the more bitter and peppery the taste the higher the antioxidants which obviously provides better health benefits.
As suggested by a friend we stopped at The Village Trading Post on our way out of town, who can resist being served by a man wearing a top hat and a wrist full of hand-crafted jewelry. Partners Niekie and Soan run this charming trading post offering travelers a choice of imported coffees which I enjoyed with a delicious mini-melktert. Soan was replanting an Amarula flower on the veranda and the small but beautiful nursery attached to the trading post gives this location a charm rather unexpected at a petrol station.
Quite apart from the spectacular Meiringspoort pass which connects the Klein Karoo and Great Karoo with its well-known waterfall, the abundance of the Malva plant (Pelargonium, also known as geraniums) and the Kanna Biodiversity route the history, culture and natural beauty of this region make it one very special place to visit.
The choice of accommodation here is diverse, next time we plan a visit this way we will enjoy the hospitality of De Rust for a few days.
As C J Langehoven wrote in Afrikaans “If you imagine you are happy, you are happy”. I am quite sure the people of De Rust know they are happy – how could one not be.