The Klein Karoo town of Barrydale
Enclosed in a narrow valley at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, within easy striking distance of the majestic Swartberg Mountains, the rural Klein Karoo town of Barrydale is surrounded by two extremes: the fertile fruit-producing Tradouw Valley, transformed in spring by swathes of blossoms, and the starkly beautiful Klein Karoo. Unlike the vast plains of neighbouring Groot Karoo, this is a semi-arid yet richly vegetated region, host to some 1440 plant species, most of them succulents, many of them endemic to single mountain slopes, and a delight for hikers, road trippers and amateur botanists.
With its streetscape softened with fields of fruits and vineyards, and an eclectic mix of residents – artists, farmers, spiritualists, restaurateurs, mechanics, birders, botanists and more – Barrydale retains a timeless small-town charm, so hard to find these days. You may meet many of them at the Karoo Art Hotel kroeg (bar), which is still – as is traditional in countryside towns – the social heart of the village, and has been since 1888, when the hotel opened. Or meet them while you stroll the picturesque streets. Directly opposite the hotel is Magpie, the internationally renowned design collective that is not to be missed.
One of the reasons so many come to visit and never leave, is the sun: it always seems to shine in Barrydale, which means that every season brings its unique pleasures. During the summer, the many swimming holes in the Tradouw River in the nearby majestic Tradouw Pass beckon (read more about the Klein Karoo Mountain Passes). The late afternoon brings cool coastal breezes to temper the heat, allowing for pleasant evenings. When the sun starts to set, residents sit back and sip their region’s delicious wines, while hadedas and other birds provide a uniquely African soundtrack. While the summer months are ripe with fruit, autumn welcomes the protea season, providing colourful displays of South Africa’s national flower which continue well into winter. As the air cools, the valleys and mountains are coloured with the distinctive orange splashes of flowering aloes, along with milk bush and succulent veld all bursting into flower, and waterfalls start to gush from the surrounding mountainslopes. This of course is also the season to dip in the hot mineral waters of the nearby rustic spa resort at Warmwaterberg. It truly is a year-round destination, and in order to take in everything Barrydale and its surrounds have to offer, a few days are definitely needed.
Time allowing you could head to nearby Joubert Tradauw wine estate for a typical wine tasting experience in one of the most gracious wine estates on the R62. Brandy tasting is also famous to this region.
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