The 11th annual West Coast Canoe Challenge is set to take place on Saturday 27 January 2024 on the Berg River in the beautiful West Coast village of Velddrif.

Around 250 participants are expected to take part in the Appliance World West Coast Canoe Challenge over different distances.

There is a 20 km race for the experienced participants on kayaks and surf skis; a 16 km event for SUP boards (stand-up paddle boards); and an enjoyable 10 km, which is perfect for fit newcomers to the sport of rowing – and any form of paddle powered vessel can be entered. There is also a relaxed 5 km event designed for paddlers with little or no experience – perfect for families or anyone looking to just have some fun and take part in the Canoe Challenge. The 5km is also open to any kind of rowing boat.

The organisers of this hugely anticipated annual event explain that safety plays a big part, and everyone must wear life jackets, be familiar with water, and be able to swim. Registrations take place from 7.30 am at the Riviera Hotel and at 10 o’clock the first rowers head off. Online registrations are already open. For those keen to watch the events, popular vantage points are at the Riviera Hotel, by the Carinus Bridge, from the Port Owen Marina, the quaint Bokkomlaan and from the upstream Train Bridge, which is also the first turning point.

Many professional and semi-professional paddlers are expected from the Boland, West Coast, as well as the Cape Peninsula. Some canoe clubs will also be bringing their development paddlers along to rub shoulders on the water with provincial, and sometimes even international, champions.

The popular West Coast town of Velddrif, which clings to the banks of the Berg River, is a water sports hub, and it’s no wonder that it plays host to this annual rowing event! In addition to canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, some of the other water sport activities on offer here include fishing; skiing; wind surfing; surfing at Dwarskersbos; paddle boating in the Port Owen Marina; or sailing with Port Owen Sailing Charters.

A boat cruise up the river is a must-do experience while visiting Velddrif for the weekend of the West Coast Canoe Challenge, and Bokkomlaan – the oldest road in the town that snakes up the edge of the Berg River – is not only a good vantage point to watch rowers go by, but is also a great place to relax and watch the tide come in while sipping freshly roasted artisanal coffee. Or take a seat on a jetty with a cocktail in hand. Also visit the eclectic shops dotted along this quaint dirt road. Bokkomlaan is named after the salted mullet strung into bunches and hung to dry like biltong. It is the signature local delicacy in this area.

Velddrif is a foodie’s paradise!  Whether your appetite is calling for a hearty breakfast, wood-fired pizza, hamburgers, crispy fresh salads, artisanal baked treats and cakes, vegetarian dishes, traditional country fare or anything in between – this area offers it all from a wide variety of eateries to suit all tastes and budgets.  The restaurants in town are known for serving up some of the freshest seafood delicacies – to be savoured whilst overlooking the beautiful Berg River with a chilled glass of wine or ice-cold cooldrink.  From eclectic and rustic to fine dining or takeaways – there truly is something for everyone here – served with typical West Coast hospitality.

Many glorious locations up and down the Berg River offer accommodation which ranges from rustic to luxury.  In the town itself, visitors can choose from self-catering apartments, cottages, and holiday homes, as well as B&Bs, guesthouses, and hotels.

This lovely town is one of the most popular bird-watching sites in South Africa, with the tidal mudflats and salt marshes presenting more than 200 species of birds. This estuary is the third biggest in SA and is rated as one of the most important birding areas in the world as well as being a key breeding site for many species of fish. Retail therapy is also an option in Velddrif, with many interesting local shops and gift stores offering a multitude of reasons to splash out and spend some money.

With all that is on offer, it is worth your while to make a weekend of it and book in to stay in Velddrif while taking part in, or watching, the West Coast Canoe Challenge.

Join us on October 14th for an epic day of mountain biking at the Piketberg MTB Challenge hosted by Org De Rac.