(OUT OF TOWN)
WHERE IS IT LOCATED?:
Rust-en-Vrede is situated on the scenic Oudemuragie road, which branches off the R328 as you drive towards the Cango Caves. The total distance from Oudtshoorn’s town centre to the waterfall is about 35km and can be broken down as follows: town centre to entrance (+/-31km) -> entrance to parking area (+/-3km) -> short hike to waterfall and back (+/-800m).
A SHORT HIKE TO THE WATERFALL:
A short walk up a mountain trail among green ferns and lush undergrowth leads all the way from the parking area to the waterfall. The trail runs along a bubbling stream and crosses several little bridges before reaching this secluded scene of natural beauty, with its cascading waters seemingly chiselled into the mountain itself.
ENTRANCE FEES AND OPENING HOURS:
The waterfall is open 09:00 – 16:30, Mondays to Sundays and the entrance fee is R70 per vehicle (1-6 people). As fees and opening times may vary, we suggest phoning in advance to avoid any disappointment.
Contact: +27 (0) 44 203 3112
ARE THERE ANY PICNIC AREAS?:
At the entrance, visitors can enjoy cool, shaded braai and picnic facilities under huge old trees. Due to the fact that this is a protected area, however, these facilities aren’t allowed closer to the waterfall. The entrance fee also covers the use of these facilities.
IS THE WATERFALL WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY?:
Sadly, the walk to the waterfall is not accessible with a wheelchair. The narrow mountain trail is steep with rocky steps that are often wet and quite slippery, so wear comfortable shoes and mind your step.
DID YOU KNOW?:
As its Afrikaans name fittingly implies, this certainly is a place of ‘rest and peace’ and it also serves as a sanctuary for indigenous plants and animals. Furthermore, the waterfall provides the town of Oudtshoorn with a substantial amount of its water supply, carried via pipeline directly to the town’s reservoir. What makes this fall even more extraordinary is that it runs 365 days a year, despite being situated in the heart of the Klein Karoo — or the ‘land of thirst’ as the Khoisan would call it.
A SHORT HISTORY
Water was now becoming a major consideration of the expanding town and irrigated farms of the valley. In March 1894 heavy rains and a particularly damaging thunderstorm focused attention on the river crossings. The Olifants River Bridge was nearly completed and was opened in May by the Minister of Public Works, Sir James Sivewright, the bridge being given his name. The next year work started on the Grobbelaars River bridge which was opened in October 1896 in the presence of a crowd of 4 000 people. It was named the Juta-Olivier Bridge.
That year, ironically enough, was one of the driest on record and water was carted from the Cango valley to Oudtshoorn and sold at sixpence a bucket.
Danie Nel of Rust-en-Vrede Waterfall was persuaded to sell his water rights and work immediately began on piping the water to the town, which it reached in 1900.
The year 1899 is remembered at Oudtshoorn as one of the worst droughts in the town’s history. The veld lay black and lifeless, and even large ornamental trees withered. The Municipality had water carried for 18km and sold it to the thirsty citizens at cost.
It was at this time that the first serious proposal was made to build a storage dam on one of the rivers. Victorin, in 1855, describes a visit he paid to the irrigation dam on the Olifants River near Van Wykskraal. He says it was made of rocks and bushes dumped in the middle of the river; there is no reason to believe that things had changed 40 years later.
The new proposal came from E.T.L. Edmeades, the owner of the farm Kammanassie, and he proposed an irrigation dam be built on the Kammanassie River. At the time, nothing came of it, but the idea was not forgotten.
(Source: The Little Karoo by Ralph Taylor)