The largest town in the Klein Karoo, Oudtshoorn (pronounced "oats - horn") offers all the amenities of a regional capital - with all the charm of a traditional "plattelandse dorp" (rural town).
Although water is scarce in the semi-arid Klein Karoo (which is why there is no heavy industry in Oudtshoorn), it is a fertile farming area and the town - once the village of Veldschoendorp - owed its early affluence to the feather booms of the 1880's and the early twentieth century. But wealth disappeared as quickly as it came, leaving only a legacy of beautiful architecture in the Art Nouveau and Victorian styles.
Today, the economy of Oudtshoorn relies on agriculture and tourism - its major attractions being the natural environment (including Cango, the largest show cave in Africa), events like the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (South Africa's biggest Arts Fest), endurance races like the Cango Marathon, the "To Hell And Back" mountain bike race - and, of course, the curiously handsome ostrich.
Every road into the Klein Karoo crosses a spectacular mountain pass - and all lead through the fantastic Cape fynbos.
The Klein Karoo is described as a botanical hotspot. It is the only place where fynbos (the Cape Floristic Kingdom) overlaps thicket and succulent vegetation - and the Swartberg Mountains are listed as part of the Cape Floral Kingdom World Heritage site (and, as part of the Gouritz Initiative, will soon be part of a major conservation corridor that will link the Klein Karoo to the Indian Ocean).
But perhaps one of the best things about Oudtshoorn is that it is in the Klein Karoo - which means that, within just an hour's drive from town, you can be at the coast at Mossel Bay or George - or inland and in the mountains on your way to the Great Karoo.
Nowhere else in the world can you find so much floral diversity within such close proximity; a semi-desert scarcely 80km away from a coastal rainforest...it's almost hard to imagine.
Early in the last century a young man from Worcester, near Cape Town, Petrus Johannes Meiring (a grandson of Pastor Arnoldus Meiring who arrived from Lingen in Germany in 1743) rode into the Klein Karoo's Elephants River Valley. He never stopped exploring and eventually discovered the route through the Swartberg Mountain Range, which in later years became the famous Meiringspoort.
In 1900 De Rust was established on a portion of Meiring's farm.
The area is malaria-free, safe with a very low crime rate and we pride ourselves on a fantastic climate - beautiful sunny winter days with cool nights. Summers are perfect, hot and sunny.
The town itself is peaceful and tree lined with excellent examples of late 19th century architecture.