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4 things to do in Bergrivier, the adventure capital of the West Coast

Photo: Юрий Лаймин from Pexels.

Photo: Юрий Лаймин from Pexels.

Published Feb 15, 2022

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Bergrivier (also called Great Berg River or in English, the Berg River) is a river located just north of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.

This stunning region, noted for its wide-open spaces and breathtaking vistas, is home to some of the world's most pristine and unspoiled nature reserves, marshes, lagoons, mountain sceneries, and more.

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Small communities dot the landscape, offering a diverse range of activities and adventures to suit all ages, interests, and budgets.

“Holidaymakers are increasingly looking for exciting experiences, for local adventures in off-the-beaten-track destinations - and the Bergrivier region, situated just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, certainly delivers,” says Nomonde Ndlangisa, CEO of Bergrivier Tourism.

“We are so excited to be able to officially present this stunning part of the Western Cape to visitors as the ‘Adventure Capital’.

“The Bergrivier area offers incredible outdoor, water sport, and camping adventures – to name a few. But we are also aware that adventure comes in so many different shapes and sizes, and the area also offers unique culinary and cultural adventures – there truly is something for every taste, interest and fitness level,” she said.

In celebration, here are four adventurous activities to try in Bergrivier:

Hiking

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Porterville is a charming community set at the base of the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area on the slopes of the Olifant's River Mountains. Porterville, which offers a range of hiking paths in the Groot Winterhoek, where spectacular rock formations can be discovered, is a treat for outdoor aficionados.

Waterval (a popular camping spot) also has an uphill waterfall route with 22 waterfalls weaving their way down the mountainside, alternating with crystal clear pools for a refreshing soak. You can also purchase a R50 permit through Activar that will grant you access to the beautiful mountains surrounding the Berg River dam in Franschhoek for a full day (beginning at 8am and finishing at 6pm).

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You'll begin at the Robertsvlei Road entrance and discover kilometres of walking paths that map spectacular mountain routes. Parking is available at the gate, where you will need to display your permit(s) in order to obtain entry.

In the Berg River Dam conservation area, you may take both hard and leisurely excursions through the mountain fynbos. Within a day's walk, you can reach high vantage sites with spectacular views of the Franschhoek Valley, Boland mountainscapes, and the landscape towards the southern coast.

Paragliding

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World-class paragliding, particularly cross-country flying, is available in Bergrivier. This sport foregoes the slope in favour of the thriving valley below, where enormous thermal updrafts are formed.

Both the Porterville and Piketberg mountains have launch areas for paragliders. For further information on the conditions and advice for flying here, contact the Flyers Lodge. FlyPorterville is a free-flying gateway that makes paragliding and hang-gliding in Porterville more accessible and fun for pilots and non-flyers alike.

Gin tasting

Porterville boasts an artisanal gin distillery in the mountains above the town and a variety of eateries in the village. Tygerkloof Distillery, the home of GINSMITH Gins, is about two hours from Cape Town.

Their lovely fynbos property, bordering the Grootwinterhoek Wilderness Area, is accessed just north of Porterville through the Dasklip Pass (renowned for paragliding), with breathtaking views spanning from Table Mountain to St Helena Bay on the West Coast.

Bird watching

Velddrif, a prominent West Coast village that hugs the banks of the lovely Berg River, is one of South Africa's most popular bird-watching destinations. In fact, the Berg River estuary was recently designated as a Ramsar Site and a globally significant area.

According to the Cape Birding Route website, “The evaporation pans of this conveniently non-tidal locality are particularly good for Chestnut-banded Plover and roosting waders that flee the mudflats at high tide.

Another advantage here is that the birds are often closely approachable from the comfort of your vehicle; ask permission at the office to drive around (but don’t try this in winter when the rains make the roads extremely slippery).” Bird watchers can also expect to find an abundance of feathered friends in the Groot Winterhoek.

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