Western- & Southern Cape (Malgas, Witsand & Gourikwa Nature Reserve)
While we are preparing for our next adventure commencing soon, we would love to take you to more of the beautiful places in and around Cape Town … trips we’ve enjoyed in the past.
Why don’t you join us for a quick road trip on some of the back roads in South Africa? In September 2019 we were invited to a friend’s birthday celebration weekend in Gouritzmond, a small coastal town in the Western Cape province, approximately 370km (230 miles) from Cape Town.
We spent the night in Bredasdorp, a lovely town in the Southern Overberg region and from here it was great to follow the dusty dirt roads (and not the main road, namely the busy N2) to reach Gouritzmond.
I was specifically looking forward to our next destination, namely Malgas. It’s a very small village with a pontoon (often shortened to “pont”) that will take our car over the Breede River.
The pont can take a maximum of three cars (or 10ton cargo) over the Breede River. It is very unique in the sense that it’s the last hand drawn pont in South Africa, which is operated/pulled by men with shoulder harnesses and chains since 1860.
Keep in mind that the pont are only operating during daylight hours – from sunrise till sunset. To get the cars over with the pont, takes only a couple of minutes. But it’s such a delightful experience (and I loved the chatting going on between the pont staff and two young men that were also crossing the river with us … they actually jumped in and assisted the guys with the crossing).
After a bit of investigation, we understand the pont was motorised in December 2020 … so, it’s evident that technology has found its way to this remote little place as well.
Traffic on farm roads:
We were now on our way to Witsand, situated at the mouth of the Breede River. To get there, we travelled on gravel roads snaking through the heartland of the Overberg farming community.
It was such a peaceful drive … worlds apart from the busy streets of city life … that was until we saw oncoming traffic – a farmer with his herd of sheep!
We thought it best to pull off to the side of the road and patiently waited for the sheep to pass us.
It was definitely a day to see animals (you will see more towards the end of this post). Before we entered Witsand, we saw a couple of zebras grazing in the fields next to the road.
Around lunch time, we drove into Witsand. This is a small coastal town and situated at the mouth of the Breede River, also known as a good fishing area.
We stopped at the Barry Memorial Church, which was built by the Barry family in 1849. It’s an intimate rectangular whitewashed building with a sandstone façade, complete with a gable and thatched roof. This church is now a national monument and still in use for services and weddings.
There are (true) fishermen stories that some of the largest bull sharks were caught in the Breede River at Witsand … although no shark attacks on people have been recorded to date.
We stopped at a small café on our way out of Witsand where we bought a pie and coffee. The perfect place to enjoy these, were at a lookout point from where we could see the Breede River flowing into the ocean.
A place called Vermaaklikheid:
It’s not very easy to explain the name ‘Vermaaklikheid’ in English (‘vermaak’ would translate to ‘entertain’ … it could therefore be said that in English it’s called “Entertainment” … who wouldn’t want to live in a place with such a name)?
You can only reach Vermaaklikheid via gravel roads which means that not much has changed over the last 50 years for its residents. The area is a fynbos shrubland that has a temperate climate and more than 100 species of birds live here.
Gourikwa Nature Reserve:
Close to Gouritzmond, our final destination, the road took us pass the Gourikwa Nature Reserve. This nature reserve was actually once four farms before it became a nature reserve. Although we did not enter the reserve (another time hopefully), we were fortunate to see some wild animals close to the fence.
Here are just a few photo’s of our (unexpected) game drive:
The fynbos shrubs next to the road was in such vibrant colours, that we stopped a couple of times to take some photo’s (and to smell them)!
As we were nearing Gouritzmond, our destination, rain clouds started to gather. We were happy that we could see a part of our country we’ve not been to before in sunny weather!
We enjoyed a great weekend with our friends at Gouritzmond … and were happy that we took the dusty roads to get there.