This quaint tree-rich village, established in 1900, nestles snugly against the southern slopes of the Swartberg Mountains at the entrance to Meiringspoort, a famous gateway through the towering peaks into the Great Karoo. De Rust is situated on the N12 150km south of Beaufort West and 35km east of Oudtshoorn.
It’s a small attractive village with a good share of lovely old Cape vernacular homes and some large Victorian houses. De Rust’s main street emits a pleasant murmur of activity during the day, and is lined with interesting little shops and galleries within lovingly restored buildings. There are also some good restaurants at which to relax on the stoep and watch rural life drift by.
The surrounding farms yield fruit, vegetable seed, grapes, dairy, sheep, ostrich and tobacco, and a few produce excellent dessert wines. The area’s exceptional plant life includes the well-known pelargonium zonale that was first collected in Meiringspoort in 1689 by Hendrik Oldenland and is said to be the ancestor of all geraniums in the world. The town’s excellent municipal water comes from a mountain spring, and visitors in summer will find the Jacaranda trees that line the main road in full purple bloom.
Look out for
Meiringspoort is probably De Rust’s best-known attraction and its roughly 20km of towering cliffs and contorted rock will make travellers feel like Lilliputians in a land of giants. Make a point of stopping at Waterfall Drift picnic site and taking the short stairway to view the 60m waterfall.
Take a ride on a traditional donkey cart out of town along a track and into the farmlands.
Mons Ruber has a wine tasting facility about 10km along the N12 towards Oudtshoorn. They have been making wine since 1850 and their range includes sweet wine, Cabernet, and Pot Still brandy. Before their fine spirits induce a state of lethargy, try the 1.5 hour hiking trail in the famous Red Hills that were formed millions of years ago.
The village has some quaint shops selling arts, crafts, antiques, and collectables.To explore the town pick up the De Rust Historical Hiking Trail map from the tourist office. There’s also a list of nearby hikes and walks detailing the terrain and distances they cover, and the contact telephone numbers.