I sit in a stop-and-go between Oudtshoorn and De Rust, the Karoo sun creates heat waves in the distance. There are cars in front of me, cars behind me; some idle, some are switched off completely with weary travellers climbing out to stretch legs. My hand stretches over to the passenger seat to reach for my phone.
Creature of habit.
I scroll for a minute or two before I look up, before it hits me…
The Swartberg Mountains.
I sink comfortably into the bakkie’s seat, as one settles into a movie theatre’s seat; handbrake up, the show is about to begin.
I feast my eyes on what is in front of me, around me, behind me.
The last time I visited De Rust I approached it from Meiringspoort’s side where a stop-and-go also gently forced my head out of the window to admire the walls of the poort.
I move on to the next stop-and-go, each one lasting only a few minutes.
Time is relative.
And the closer I get to my destination the longer the show continues, building up to the crescendo that is De Rust, a place that has served as a rest stop for travellers since the early 1900s.
Today it is no different, many a traveller has stopped in this small town en route to somewhere else. And in a way all roads to lead to De Rust; whether you are coming from Oudtshoorn’s side on the N12, or connecting via the Swartberg Pass and Oudemuragie Road, from the N12 from Prince Albert and Meiringpoort’s side or from the R341 that connects De Rust with Willowmore, Uniondale and the Langkloof… eventually all roads lead to De Rust, eventually you have to stop and stare, eventually you have to stop and stare for a few fleeting hours longer than the stop-and-goes that have been begging you to rest in De Rust.
So I did.
I stopped for 53 hours.
It was supposed to be a few hours shorter to not hit complete darkness on my way home but I struggled to leave; De Rust took me by the hands and opened the doors to its generous heart. I got invited inside, invited to sit on its special couch of comfort next to its people – the ones who have been there for as long as they can remember and the ‘inkommers‘ – I got served sweet stories, a slice of history, a plate of possibilities and a firm belief that I’ll end up here one day: it might not be forever, it might not even be for a year, it might not be tomorrow, but it will be some day and it will be De Rust.
Full circle. One day.
The town, the community, the smiles, the generosity and its ‘sout van die aarde‘ people (it doesn’t have the same ring to it in English) overwhelmed me as did the art, the soul and the humbleness that walks the streets, as did nature, the produce that sprouts from the Karoo soil and the mountains’ sheer majestic magnetism that draws you closer.
Things to do in De Rust
You might make plans but De Rust is pretty much a hands-off-your-own-itinerary trip, the town will guide you; trust the process and its own unique ways.
De Rust’s Doornkraal Padstal is more than just a farm stall; it is more than just a padstal.
It’s an extension – another arm, another heart, another flavour – of the history, the kitchen, the knowledge, and the passion of the Le Roux family who has kept the faith and walked the soil of Kannaland for 6 generations. It is an extension of the place where pomegranate trees carry red rubies, where the smell of smoked pumpkin seeds and Karoobossie Salt lingers in the kitchen, where vineyards glitter with pearls of liquid promises, where men farm, where women farm, where family, friends and complete strangers gather around a dinner table, where cookbooks originate from, where there is no end to the stories, the laughter, where Oom Swepie le Roux adds a lemon peel to your ‘soetwyn‘, prays for rain and pours a “specialtjie” after sharing his homemade ice cream with you.
Doornkraal… it is more than a padstal; it is stepping into the Le Roux’s home, it is the Le Rouxs stepping into your home.
This farm stall is situated about 10 km before you reach De Rust (from Oudtshoorn’s side). Do not leave De Rust without visiting.
The Le Roux family also hosts monthly dinners on the farm called ‘Tante Maria se Kuierstal’. These dinners are usually the last Saturday of the month and if you find yourself in De Rust on the 25 of May, 27 July and 28 September, it’s a date!
Oude Muragie Road
The roads in and around De Rust is a drive of nature’s purest poetry; the Oude Muragie Road is a sedan-friendly dirt road that connects De Rust with the Swartberg Pass (depending on the weather and your ground clearance, the pass might not always be sedan-friendly).
Rust en Vrede Waterfall
Meiringspoort is a popular waterfall, swim, plunge and picnic spot close to De Rust, but did you know there’s another waterfall?
Just as impressive, if not more, Rust en Vrede Waterfall is a scenic secret about 28km from De Rust, on the Oudemuragie road. It’s called ‘Rust en Vrede’ for a reason, don’t rush, explore its beauty inside and out. Entrance fee is R61 per vehicle, and it’s a short and EASY walk to reach the falls.
The Oudemuragie Road is a dirt road but sedan-friendly all the way to the falls.
De Rustica Olive Tasting
If you told me that I’ll do an Olive Oil tasting I would’ve told you to stop lying.
Olive tasting makes sense…but Olive Oil? No, that’s just strange!
Luckily, thanks to the knowledge and passion of Precilla at De Rustica Olive Estate, who showed and told me all about the process of harvesting and pressing, taking sips of some of their international award-winning oils (they have a thing for GOLD) was not strange at all; it gave me not only a better understanding of olive oil, but it schooled me and changed my thoughts on oil completely.
Did you know that you can drizzle oil over ice cream to enhance the flavour of your dessert?
De Rustica’s Olive to Oil tours are every weekday at 11:00 (booking essential), R85 per person and it is situated at the start of the Oudemuragie Road.
Village Trading Post
The Village Trading Post is a restaurant-bar-kuierplek-gallery-shop that runs on passion, love, art, nostalgia, good coffee and hearty meals; it’s a place of serendipity and stories, a corner puzzle piece in your De Rust visit.
If you stumble upon a rooster in De Rust, you are at the right place. Go for the coffee, take home the onion marmalade, but go back and stay for the stories.
Read the blog post: Take a Coffee Break in De Rust | Village Trading Post.
Klapperbos Farm Stall
Gifts, house decor items, art and everything that is Karoo and ‘oulik’. A lot – if not most – of the items at Klapperbos Farm Stall are from local artists in the area.
Herrie se plek
If you’ve ever driven through De Rust a purple elephant might have caught your attention, that’s the shop and restaurant known as Herrie’s or Herrie se Plek, one of the only restaurants in town that is open for dinner every day (and also open for breakfast and lunch). The menu consists of anything and everything from salad to seafood to pizza.
If you’re a frequent padstal visitor you’d be familiar with the beautiful words and poetry of Freda Schoeman on tea towls, pot holders, napkins, bags and more. And it’s not just poems – it is “hartswoorde” – with layers of nostalgia, childhood memories and Karoo dreams.
Meet the face behind the words and the talented group of local women who help to put and stitch it all together at MooiKaroo, just a short drive from De Rust on the R341 (towards Willowmore).
“Die sterre en die maan
sal haar arms oopvou
Ek kom huistoe
en sy druk my
teen die kruie van haar lyf.”
The rest of De Rust
Unfortunately I did not stop at every place in De Rust. One would think that it is easy to quickly pop into every shop (there are not so many), and perhaps experience every restaurant or coffee shop but the fact of the matter is wherever you go in De Rust you have kuier-talk with locals and once the conversation starts flowing you might as well forget about time.
Don’t miss out on the following places (and if I missed anything, comment below and tell me):
Ray’s Coffee Shop
Rooi Donkie Restaurant
Mons Ruber Winery
Pizzas at Kaalgat Kudu every Friday Night
I forgot the actual name of the shop but there is a Men’s Gift Shop opposite House Martin Guest Lodge.
Where to stay in De Rust?
There are numerous accommodation options in the town of De Rust, whether you’re looking for a B&B, self-catering cottage or a stay somewhere on a farm.
I found a home at House Martin Guest Lodge; a beautiful house from the late 1800s with guava, pomegranate and quince trees, a garden that begs you to sit down and grab a book and old horse stables converted into rooms.
Here are a few other places that came highly suggested to me for my next trip: The Travelling Tortoise (camp sites and log homes), Numbi Valley (a permaculture farm), Olivier’s Rust’s Self-Catering Apartments and B&B in town and Kerneelia Farm Cottage on the Le Roux’s farm, Doornkraal.
Let’s talk a bit about the Isuzu D-MAX, Extended Cab
For this trip to De Rust (as well as the one in Mossel Bay where I went camping, read here) I used the Isuzu D-Max 300 D-TEQ LX 4×4, Extended Cab and this 6-speed manual bakkie is a bit of a work-and-play bakkie; there is enough space and comfort to make it your holiday runner, but still a workhorse offering 7.5 l per 100 km for business owners to make it an everyday runner.
The extended cab is also available in the Isuzu D-MAX 250 D-TEQ hi-rider 4X2 and the 300 D-TEQ LX 4×2 (manual and automatic transmission available).
You can get all the specs here, www.isuzu.co.za.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Oudtshoorn De Rust Tourism for the duration of my trip and the bakkie was a loan unit from Isuzu Motors South Africa. All opinions are my own. Duh.