Make 2022 your year of Adventure with these Top Travel Destinations - All on Cape Town's Doorstep
A brand-new year brings fresh new opportunities, and if you are like so many others of us, then you may well be feeling a yearning for adventure this year, to get out there and make memories, to gather experiences, to satisfy your wanderlust!
The good news is that seekers of local adventures in off-the-beaten-track destinations can find all they are looking for right on Cape Town’s doorstep in the Bergrivier region – a beautiful area known for its open spaces and dramatic landscapes, which is peppered with small towns that offer a huge array of activities and adventures.
The Bergrivier region offers incredible outdoor, water sport, and camping options – to name a few. 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!
So as this new year gets underway, for those looking to get out and about, read on for a list of some of the top must-do adventures for 2022 – and where to find them.
The West Coast village of Velddrif hugs the banks of the Berg River, just a few kilometers from where the river enters the ocean at St Helena Bay. This lovely town is one of the most popular bird-watching sites in South Africa and top bird watching spots in the area include Rocher Pan, Rooibaai, and Laaiplek harbour. Take a cruise up the Berg River for the best bird watching experience.
Velddrif is perfectly located to offer a myriad of activities to water-sport enthusiasts, such as canoeing and kayaking, boat trips on the Crackling Rosie, Knot Xtreme and Tollie’s River Cruises, sailing with Port Owen Sailing Charters, surfing, skiing, kite-boarding, stand-up paddling – and so much more. The Berg River is also a fishing hotspot. For some surf fishing try the Dwarskersbos beach by the Soverby Lapa.
When it comes to camping, Velddrif has many options such as the Kliphoek Rivier Oord, Kuifkopvisvanger camp site, Knorvarkie, Happy Campers, and the camp site in Dwarskersbos.
For a culinary adventure be sure to try Bokkoms (salted and dried fish -a unique West Coast delicacy) in Bokkom Laan or visit the Kokerboom Kaas Creamery to sample their range of artisanal cheeses. There are many options for fresh seafood, from the Riviera Hotel, which boasts a prime spot on the Bergriver, to the fine dining to be experienced at Russels On The Port in Port Owen. Velddrif is in fact a foodie’s paradise – this area offers it all from eclectic and rustic to fine-dining or take-aways enjoyed as fun family picnics.
Those looking for a cultural experience will love a visit to the historic Bokkom Laan which is the oldest road in the town – and a Heritage site – that snakes up the edge of the Berg River. Visit the art gallery and eclectic shops dotted along this quaint dirt road – all businesses that are run out of quaint, historic old fishing sheds. The Fisheries Museum near the Laaiplek harbour is also well worth a visit to find out about the colourful history of the fishing industry along this coast.
Piketberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Piketberg Mountain range, draws visitors looking to enjoy the stunning natural surrounds and the abundant outdoor activities. Amongst these is the newly developed hiking trail from Goedverwacht to Piket-Bo-Berg. For mountain bike enthusiasts there is an excellent trail on the Retreat Guest Farm which can be arranged for day visitors.
Kleine Paradys is well worth a visit, and offers camping, canoeing, and fishing on a catch and release basis. Another recommended camp site is Kruistementvlei in Piket-Bo-Berg. For bird lovers the nearby Verlorenvlei at Redelinghuys is an incredible spot. The Jakkalskloof 4×4 route in Redelinghuys is a great outing for 4×4 enthusiasts and game viewing is available at the Goudkop Bush & Detox Camp.
For history buffs, Piketberg boasts a unique and fascinating self-guided tour which takes visitors on a journey back in time to experience the rich history and historic buildings of this beautiful village. The Piketberg Historical Route is the best way to experience the heritage of this town, with its gorgeously restored cottages and the imposing neo-gothic style Dutch Reformed Church.
Good news for visitors is that the town, and nearby surrounds, offers a wide selection of eateries to cater to all tastes. A visit to Org-de-Rac, the local organic winery, is a must to sample their wine and cheese pairing, as well as the fresh oysters served with Methode Cap Classique.
Last but certainly not least on the list of highly recommended towns to visit for your 2022 adventures is Porterville, a quaint village nestled on the slopes of the Olifant’s River Mountains at the base of the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area.
Long known as the paragliding and hang-gliding capital, Porterville offers a variety of hiking trails to fascinating destinations like De Hel (the hell) and De Tronk (the jail) in the Groot Winterhoek, where impressive rock formations can be found. There is also an uphill waterfall trail at Waterval (a hugely popular camping spot) which is dotted with 22 waterfalls snaking their way down the mountainside, interspersed with crystal clear pools for a cooling dip.
For those keen to truly test their adrenalin levels, there are companies which offer tandem-paragliding and hang-gliding experiences off the Dasklip Pass and at Pampoenfontein. Bird watchers can also expect to find an abundance of feathered friends at Pampoenfontein, Beaverlac (another incredibly popular camping site) and in the Groot Winterhoek. Those keen to throw in a line can opt for some fishing at the local municipal dam in Porterville as well as the privately owned dam on the Houdconstant Farm. Every Saturday visitors can also pop in at the Houdconstant Country Market which offers something for everyone, from delicious food to tractor and pony rides for the children. The pancakes are not to be missed!
Porterville also boasts an artisanal gin distillery in the mountains above the town. Tygerkloof Distillery is the home of Ginsmith Gins, and visitors can enjoy a tapas and gin tasting experience at this beautiful mountain distillery.
Whether it is camping, birdwatching, river cruising, canoeing, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horse-riding, paragliding, eating, drinking, or museum trawling – there are so many adventures to be had in the Bergrivier area that visitors are truly spoilt for choice, which is great news for people yearning to grab life with both hands this year. All these towns promise a great escape for the entire family, but without huge crowds, meaning visitors can keep to Covid distancing protocols as well.