Oulap is an eclectic mix of textures and colors, winding staircases and little book-filled nooks, antiques, and impressive contemporary South African art. Guest rooms are individually decorated with original artwork, and the owners grow their own olives and fruit, which they preserve. But what steals the show is the almost unbelievable star-studded Karoo sky; you haven't seen stars until you've spent a night in the Karoo. Four-course farmhouse suppers—Karoo lamb, hearty
soups, and regional produce—are wonderful, and conversation around the huge dining table, which often carries on until late in the evening, is possibly even better. The owners are very sociable, and staying here feels more like being a guest in a home than staying in a hotel. A large percentage of the money earned by this lodge has gone into building a village school, complete with school meals and 32 computers; even more community projects are planned.
15 km (9 mi) from De Rust on R341, De Rust, South Africa
Nov 23, 2013
I came to Oulap to meet a man who dreams in the purple and rust hills of De Rust. Jans Rautenbach and his wife Almeri took 10 years to build their house out of stone on top of a hill at the gateway between the Klein Karoo and the Great Karoo. No A/C is needed, as the thick stone walls keep Oulap remarkably cool on a hot day. It was a privilege for my husband and I to spend 3 nights at Oulap Country House. We slept in a double bed in a spacious
and homey room. Although we were the only guests, Almeri treated us to a feast of homemade dinners each night. When she learned that we are adventurous eaters, she made a delicious dish with kudu. Almeri is sensitive to the dietary preferences of her guests. We enjoyed dinner each evening in the dining room with Jans and Almeri. Beulah served us breakfast on the sunny patio on 3 pleasant spring mornings. Beulah's smile always filled my heart with joy. We enjoyed a nature walk with Almeri, who walks the hills daily, and has a keen eye for the smallest details of the tiniest flower petal. Each night at dinner, we hungered for more stories by Jans...stories about the local Vlakteplaas UCC Primary School, which he founded in the Karoo; stories about his inspiring meeting with Nelson Mandela; stories about the making of his films. (He is famous for films depicting the affect of apartheid on people's lives.) Whenever we drove into and out of Oulap for day-trips, the local people & children smiled, nodded, and waved at us. The people of De Rust have found something to smile about, and that's magical. Oulap made a great base for our day-trip up the Meiringspoort pass to Prince Albert, and back down the breathtakingly magnificent Swartberg pass. We allowed 1 full day for this day-trip from Oulap, with a lunch stop in Prince Albert, and time to poke around in some intriguing shops and art galleries in Prince Albert. Jans is currently working on an autobiographical film at the time of this writing, so Oulap Country House will temporarily be closed to guests, but will re-open to receive guests after May 2014. The internet is sometimes spotty in De Rust, so you may have to re-send your emails a second time if you don't receive a reply to your first email. I choose Oulap Country House as the accommodation with the most heart and soul, out of all the places I have ever stayed in my travels! Are you a dreamer? An Artist? A Writer? A Naturalist or a Biologist? A musician? A friend to humanity? If Oulap calls out to you...then you are a dreamer, and you belong at Oulap.