Towns around Witsand
This is a sleepy town situated on the banks of the Breede River. Each little house which lines the banks of the river has its own jetty and motor-boat. The river is recognized as the best fishing estuary in South Africa and is also home to an abundance of bird species and wildlife.
Malgas is home to the only river ferry in South Africa, which serves as a vital link between the east and west bank of the Breede Rivewr. Taking a trip on this pontoon leaves one with a feeling of nostalgia and also in awe of this incredible river.
Only a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. Malgas is close enough to serve as a relaxing weekend getaway for city dwellers. Accommodation is limited but the accommodation available is breathtaking – situated on the banks of the river with a spectacular view of mother nature in all her glory. There are all sorts of water sports on offer, including canoe trips down the great Breede River, swimming and sailing.
The De Hoop Nature Reserve is also in the area, which is a lovely destination for bird watching and walking.
DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE
The Overberg, Western Cape, South Africa is an ideal stopover for Garden Route holidays, or for visitors travelling south to the Cape Winelands. This region is close to the southern tip of Africa and can be approached via Bredasdorp or Swellendam.
Characterised by quaint towns, delicious local food and up and coming wines, the Overberg, Western Cape, South Africa is also on the famous Whale Route. The De Hoop Nature Reserve (36 000 hectare) is a World Heritage Site and listed on Ramsar for its pristine wetlands in a prime conservation area. There is also a marine reserve where Southern Right Whales come seasonally to breed and many other marine species live including dolphins. The reserve boasts excellent land based whale watching and is one of the largest protected marine areas in Africa. The reserve has a 19km protected vlei which is on the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance.
The reserve has over 70km (43 miles) of coastline and extensive wetlands. There are 260 species of bird including a breeding colony of pelicans and the rare Cape Vulture. Amongst 86 mammal species, visitors can see Cape Mountain Zebra, rare Bontebok, Eland, Grey Rhebuck(Vaalribbok), Baboon, Yellow Mongoose, Caracal and even Leopard.
De Hoop is part of the smallest and most threatened plant kingdom, the Cape Floral Kingdom. Fynbos (wild shrubs and flowering plants) are the predominant plant species found here, with many rare examples and some not even classified yet.
CLIMATE Summers are warm and winters are mild to cold. Annual rainfall is around 380mm and August is generally the wettest month. Sea mists can occur. The most frequent summer winds are south-easterly and south-westerly while south-westerly winds prevail in winter.
DIRECTIONS AND INFORMATION There are conservation fees (usually included in accommodation costs) or day visitors can pay on entrance. The De Hoop Reserve gate is open from 7am to 6pm and until 7pm on Fridays. Early or late arrivals can be arranged with Management.
SELF-DRIVE FROM CAPE TOWN Take the N2 to Caledon. From Caledon, drive through Napier to Bredasdorp. From Bredasdorp take the R319 to Swellendam. After about 6km (4 miles) turn right – sign posted De Hoop/Malgas/Infanta. Take the gravel road for 35km (22miles) until you see a sign to the right – De Hoop Nature Reserve.
SELF-DRIVE FROM SWELLENDAM Drive on the N2 for 13km (8 miles) in the direction of Cape Town, turn left onto the gravel road, signed Spitskop. Continue on this road for about 45km (28 miles) until you reach a T-junction. Turn left at the T-junction signed Malgas/Infanta and travel about 2km (just over a mile) before you turn right onto the De Hoop Pad signed Buch Bushcamp / De Hoop.
It is 7km (4 miles) from this turn off to the Main Gate of the Park and a further 8km (5 miles) to the office. All the roads in the reserve are also gravel except for a short tarred section at the entrance.
This is a lush town at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains. Many of the buildings in the oak lined streets are colonial and Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa. With a moderate temperature the gardens are green and luxuriant and walking through the streets of this town is a joy.
The Buffeljachts Dam allows for much entertainment. Taking a sunset cruise on the sparkling water aboard a fully kitted-out double decked wooden raft is an unforgettable experience. A catering service is available and a braai on board can also be arranged.
This town is home to its very own magical Faerie Sanctuary which is open every day except Mondays, when the faeries take time to rest. It is also home to many famous artists who get inspiration from these beautiful surrounds. The Drostdy Museum Complex is worth a visit to gain some insight into the town’s history.
Horse-riding, gliding, canoeing, mountain-biking and waterskiing are but some of the activities Swellendam has to offer. For the more extreme traveler, there is a fuffi-slide and water snake. One can also go for a ride on a motor-glider and take a twenty minute flight alongside the birds, soaring above the majestic Langeberg Mountains.
Heidelberg is located about half way between Cape Town and Knysna. Heidelberg is just east to the Overberg region, and some consider it the beginning of the Garden Route.
In 1716, Louis Fourie obtained grazing rights from Governor Van Der Stel and he settled alongside the Duivenhoks River. This is where he later constructed the Doornboom Homestead – registered in 1728 – and the Doornboom Farm was established.
The area was initially part of the greater Riversdale district until the Riversdale Dutch Reformed Church Council in 1855 bought a portion of the farm Doornboom on which to lay out the town when a new Dutch Reformed congregation was created for the farmers between Swellendam and Riversdale.
The town grew around the church and it was named in honour of the German town, Heidelberg because of the Heidelberg catechism that was practices in the church. Heidelberg is today what was once Doornboom Farm.
In 1903 Heidelberg became part of the railway network and became an important transport link for the wool, wheat, fruit and tobacco industries of the area. The river, the Duivenhoks (Dovecote) was named by an explorer, Isaq Schrijver, who observed a lot of doves where the river flows into the Indian Ocean, at a place called Puntjie.
The Duivenhoks River has its origins in the Langeberg range and slowly flows through the undulating foothills. Fourie House on Fourie Street is the oldest house in Heidelberg.
(Afrikaans: Riversdal). This is a town located on the N2 highway between Cape Town and George on the Agulhas Coastal Plain of the Southern Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is an agricultural service orientated town, being a hub for shopping and other services for surrounding farming communities, smaller towns, and coastal resorts, like Witsand and Stilbay. It is located beneath the imposing Langeberg Mountains to the north, with the Sleeping Beauty Mountain overlooking the town.
The town was founded as a church on the farm Doornkraal and was subsequently named after Harry Rivers, the then incumbent Civil Commissioner of Swellendam. It was proclaimed a town on 30 August 1838. Riversdale is also the Western most point in the Garden Route Region.
The old jail was built in 1834 and originally serves as a prison, police station and eventually a magistrate’s office in 1860. The jail was closed down in 1979 and was re-opened in 2009, wearing a brand new jacket!
Visitors can step into the old prison at Riversdale and, as you enter, see the original keys to the jail still hanging at the entrance, and the gallows can also be viewed.
The jail is definitely no longer cold and dark. A coffee shop with snacks, gifts, paintings and literature are displayed in each of the prison cells. On Saturdays there is also a market place where fresh products are displayed and sold.
The Duivenhok Estuary and its surrounds is one of the last remaining pristine estuaries in South Africa. The Duivenhok Conservancy has been established to preserve its unique character. The area is also a Nature Conservation Protectorate. It is required that residents and visitors adhere to the rules and guidance of both bodies. (No speeding or water sports allowed).
This unique eco-experience offers swimming, canoeing and fishing in the beautiful Duivenhoks River. You can walk or mountain bike in this bird watcher’s paradise. Or just put your feet up and relax!
- Boating – Each cottage has the use of a canoe and row boat. You will have greater access and mobility of you bring your own small engine or boat. Water skis, Jet Ski’s and speeding are not allowed on the river.
- Fishing – Considered very good. Steenbras, Cob, Spotted Grunter and Cape Stumpnose.
- Swimming – Glorious swimming in this tidal river.
- The King swing on the river bank provides hours of fun for the adventurous. Swing out over the river and plop into the water or swing back again
- Hiking – Walking or mounting biking – bring your own bikes.
- Bird watching – This is a bird watching paradise, with over 100 species of birds, so bring your binoculars.
- Day trips – Easy day trips along the Garden Route and Klein Karoo.