Breede River Valley
Breede River Valley
The Breede River Valley region of the Western Cape is a picturesque valley surrounded by magnificent high mountains North and South and is one of South Africa's finest fruit and wine producing areas. The Breede River rises in the mountains of the Boland and flows into the Indian Ocean at St Sebastion Bay. Its tributaries include some of the finest trout fishing streams in the Western Cape, including the Witels, Dwars and Hex rivers, the latter being famous for its rainbow trout. The valley has a host of fine restaurants and plenty of accommodation.
The town of Ceres in the Breede River Valley was founded in 1849 after the opening of Mitchell's Pass and is named after the Roman goddess of plenty. Ceres is probably the most important fruit producing region in South Africa. It is situated some 150 kilometres from Cape Town and can only be reached by mountain pass. Visitors once had to pay a road toll to pass through Mitchell's Pass, but the Toll House has now been converted into a tea room.
The beautiful little town of Tulbagh in the Breede River Valley sits beneath the mountains of the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area and is unique in that every single building on its Church Street has been declared a National Monument, including De Oude Drostdy. All 32 houses have been restored to their original condition after damage suffered from an earthquake in 1969. Tulbagh dates back to the days of Jan van Riebeeck. Activities in the area include trout fishing, horse-riding and 4x4 trails.
The town of Worcester is the main town of the Breede River Valley region of the Western Cape, and it lies on the main road from Cape Town to Johannesburg. The town has developed into the main commercial centre of the region and one of the largest and most important grape producing areas of the Western Cape. Worcester is well known for its schools for the blind and the deaf. The Karoo National Botanic Gardens offer the only true succulent garden in the Southern hemisphere.
Just a few kilometers down the valley from Worcester is the important wine producing town of Robertson, often referred to as the brandy capital of South Africa. As well as producing some of the Breede River Valley's best wines, Robertson houses some of the country's finest racing studs.Â The area boasts several fine hiking trails (see Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve) and a resort on the banks of the Breede River is a magnet to tourists and canoe trails are most popular with all equipment being provided. This is a very beautiful part of South Africa to visit and all manner of outdoor pastimes are catered for.
The Breede River Valley village of McGregor, originally known as Lady Grey, offers the best examples of 19th century Cape architecture with its end-gables, stable doors and thatched roofs. The Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail links McGregor with the nearby village of Greyton. The trail abounds with numerous species of flora and fauna including some rare examples of protea and heather. Hikers considering taking this trail should be warned that it can be extremely strenuous and even dangerous during winter months. A valid permit has to be carried at all times. The Limietberg Nature Reserve along the Du Toitskloof Pass is also a popular hiking route.
Just to the North of Swellendam lies the Breede River Valley's 11300 hectare Marloth Nature Reserve, which features impressive mountain scenery and a trail that passes through evergreen forests and cool valleys. The reserve is set in the Langeberg range of mountains features some breathtaking examples of wild gardenias and almonds as well as many examples of stinkwood and yellowwood. Wildlife includes leopard, baboon and several species of antelope. There is a large picnic site with overnight huts for hikers but no other facilities.