The Breede River, Western Cape
Did you know?
There’s a manually operated pontoon, dating back to 1860, that ferries goods across the Breede River at Malgas.
The Breede River (which means 'broad river') rises in the mountains of Ceres in the Western Cape and flows for some 320km through a valley of the same name on its way to the Indian Ocean.
This is the longest navigable river in the Western Cape and provides vital irrigation for the fruit and wine farms that can be found in the Breede River Valley, flowing past some important agricultural towns like Worcester and Swellendam.
It's also a recreational playground for residents and visitors alike.
On its way to the sea, the Breede River flows past the Bontebok National Park which has a delightful campsite and comfortable chalets. Here visitors can go swimming, paddling, angling (with a valid permit) or simply relax with a picnic basket on its banks.
The river meets the sea at Witsand, a beautiful estuary where the sea tides can push up as far as 50km into the river, providing an important ecological haven for young fish. Witsand and nearby Cape Infanta is also a premier whale-watching destination in early summer.
The estuary is favoured by anglers who fish for spotted grunter and dusky kob in its waters whereas a few kilometres upstream the calmer waters are popular with watersport enthusiasts.
Wine lovers will delight in visiting one of the many wine estates to be found in this region. The longest wine route in the world, Route 62, starts here at Robertson in a region famous for its hanepoot and muscadel dessert wines.
Those with energy to spare might like to try water sports such as river rafting. Campsites offer inexpensive yet comfortable accommodation to complement your river adventure.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
The start of the Breede River valley is close to Worcester, some 100km from Cape Town by car.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit to experience the area's flora is spring (September-October). Any time of the year is perfect for wine-tasting, but water sports are best enjoyed in summer.
What to pack
Your swimming costume, of course.
Where to stay
Accommodation is plentiful in Robertson and Worcester, ranging from guest houses to B&Bs, lodges and hotels. You could also stay in the Bontebok Park or in a B&B or self-catering cottage closer to the coast.
What to eat
There are many fine restaurants to be found in the valley.
Look out for the Wacky Wine Weekend in Robertson in June.
Buy some of the country's top wines, maps, postcards, local books, arts and crafts.