The off-the-beaten-track Western Cape destinations that should be on your travel list this summer
South Africans are embracing travel and going out and getting ready to satisfy their urge to travel. Covid-19 has changed the way people travel, with many seeking local adventure in off the beaten track destinations – and the Bergrivier area, located just outside Cape Town, certainly offers.
The Bergrivier region is a beautiful region – known for its wide open spaces and spectacular scenery – which is dotted with small towns that offer a huge range of activities and adventure options. The region also has some of the most pristine and untouched nature reserves, wetlands, lagoons, mountain landscapes and more.
For those looking to get out there, Bergrivier Tourisme has put together a list of some of the best campsites, hiking and mountain biking trails, 4×4 routes, water sports, bird watching and other must-do activities for this summer – and where to go find them. .
The very popular west coast village of Velddrif runs along the banks of the beautiful Berg River just a few miles from where the river flows into the ocean in St Helena Bay.
This charming town is one of South Africa’s most popular birding sites with mudflats and salt marshes showcasing over 220 species of birds, including rare waders rarely seen elsewhere.
The best birding spots in the area include Pan Rock, historic Bokkomlaan, Rooibaai, and Laaiplek Harbor. Take a cruise on one of the local boats and travel up the Berg River for the best birding experience.
Velddrif is perfectly located to offer a myriad of activities for water sports enthusiasts with many options available such as canoeing and kayaking, boat trips on the Crackling Rosie, Knot Xtreme and Tollie River cruises, sailing with Port Owen Sailing Charters, surfing at Dwarskersbos, skiing, kitesurfing, stand-up paddle boarding in the river and much more.
The Berg River is also a hotspot for fishing and connoisseurs recommend casting your line at the railway bridge – the Carinus Bridge – or at Laaiplek Port. For some surf fishing try Dwarskersbos Beach near Soverby Lapa. Velddrif also offers golf at the Bergrivier Golf Course and Club which includes a popular driving range.
When it comes to camping, Velddrif offers many options such as Kliphoek Rivier Oord, Kuifkopvisvanger camping, Knorvarkie, Happy Campers and camping in Dwarskersbos.
Piketberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Piketberg mountain range, attracts visitors looking to enjoy – among other things – the beautiful natural surroundings and the many outdoor activities.
Among these is the new hiking trail from Goedverwacht to Piket-Bo-Berg. For mountain bikers, there is a great trail at the Retreat Guest Farm that can be landscaped for day visitors.
Kleine Paradys is well worth a visit and offers camping, canoeing and fishing with release. Another recommended campsite is Kruistementvlei in Piket-Bo-Berg.
For bird lovers, the neighboring Verlorenvlei at Redelinghuys is an amazing place. The vlei provides feeding, nesting and resting sites for many species of birds and waterfowl such as herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills and flamingos. The Jakkalskloof 4×4 route in Redelinghuys is a great outing for 4×4 enthusiasts.
For adventurers keen to try their hand at paragliding, Piketberg offers a starting point in the Versfeld Pass on the Piket-Bo-Berg route.
Piketberg also offers game drives at Goudkop Bush and Detox Camp and golf at PPC De Hoek Golf Course.
The last Saturday of each month is the Piket-Bo-Berg Farmer’s Market which takes place at the Kruistementvlei farm in the mountains above Piketberg from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This event has become an institution for locals and visitors alike – attracting foodies from as far away as Cape Town who drive to shop for handicrafts and farm-fresh produce.
Last but not least on the list of highly recommended towns to visit this summer in search of adventure is Porterville – a quaint village nestled on the mountain slopes of the River Olifants, at the foot of the Groot Winterhoek wilderness.
Long known as the capital of paragliding and hang-gliding, outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted with a visit to Porterville which offers a variety of hiking trails to fascinating destinations like De Hel (hell) and De Tronk (the prison) in the Groot Winterhoek where there are impressive rock formations.
There is also an uphill waterfall trail at Waterval which is dotted with 22 waterfalls that meander up the mountain, interspersed with crystal clear pools for a refreshing dip.
For those who really want to test their adrenaline level, there are companies that offer tandem paragliding and hang gliding experiences off the Dasklip Pass and in Pampoenfontein. Bird watchers can also expect to find an abundance of feathered friends in Pampoenfontein, Beaverlac and in the Groot Winterhoek.
Those wishing to cast a line can opt for a fishing trip at the local municipal dam at Porterville as well as at the private dam at the Houdconstant farm.
Golfers are not forgotten, and Porterville has a scenic golf course with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Every Saturday, visitors can also take a tour of the Houdconstant Country Market which offers something for everyone, from delicious food to tractor and pony rides for the kids.
Whether camping, bird watching, river cruises, canoeing, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, paragliding or golf – there are so many adventures to experience in the area. de Bergrivier that visitors are truly spoiled for choice, which is great news for people wanting to embrace life with both hands.
All of these cities promise a great escape for the whole family without huge crowds, which means visitors can adhere to Covid-19 distancing protocols as well.