Breede River Valley
Breede River and canal near Bonnievale
Our journey through the Breede River valley begins at the source of the Breede River high up in the mountains which surround the village of Ceres.
The mountains are the Skurweberg, Gydoberg and the Waboomberg ranges to the north, the Hex River mountain range to the east and to the south and to the west the Witsenberg mountain range.
Ceres is situated in a fertile basin which looks like an open hand and is known as the Warm Bokkeveld.
From the mountains surrounding Ceres a number of small streams make their way down into the fertile basin eventually forming two small rivers known as the Dwars and the Titus rivers.
It is along the Dwars river that the village of Ceres sprang up during the late 1800's
Both the Titus and the Dwars rivers meander through the valley forming cascades, waterfalls and pools, where trout play until they join up and force their way to the south western rim of the basin where they drop down a waterfall into a boiling maelstrom known as the coffee pot.
From this point on the two rivers become one are known as the Breede River or Bree river.
Mountains in the Breede River Valley
For the next ten kilometres of its journey the river flows through a deep valley with the Hex River mountains to the east and the Skurweberg mountains to the west.
On the mountainside high above the river the Mitchells pass opened in 1848 follows the contours of the Skurweberg range until it opens up into the Worcester valley.
The Breede River then flows slowly in a south easterly direction towards the southern coastline of the Western Cape where it enters the sea at Witsands.
Along the course of the river a number of towns and industries have grown up over the years.
The first town “Ceres” built in the Warm Bokkeveld has become an important town in the production of deciduous fruit such as peaches, nectarines, apples, apricots, pears and cherries, as well as vegetables and fruit juices.
Apart from farming the Western Province Sport Parachute Club has established a base near the town from where people who would like to experience jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane can go and satisfy their need for extreme thrills.
Other activities such as a visit to the Transport Riders'Museum, or the Klondyke Cherry Farm or a tour of the Ceres Fruit Juices Factory are available for visitors to the area.
In the winter months when it snows Ceres becomes the Switzerland of the Western Cape.
Following the course of the river from Ceres we eventually arrive in the Worcester valley where on both sides of the river wine farms have been established and many thousands of hectares of vines are planted.
The scenery during the summer months when the vines are in full leaf and the mountains are bathed in sunlight is superb.
In the centre of all this beauty nature has provided a hot spring named the Goudini Spa where the water reaches the surface at a temperature of 40 degree celsius.
This is one of the hottest springs in South Africa.
Also found in the area are a number of attractions such as the Kleinplasie Open-air Museum, the KWV Brandy Cellar and Karoo National Botanical Garden as well as a number of wine cellars where one can do wine tasting and purchase wines.
The next town we come to along the course of the Breede river is Robertson.
This town is well known for its beauty, its excellent wines, roses and thoroughbred horses.
The Robertson Wine Route is a recognised Wine of Origin region and is the Cape's largest wine producing region under irrigation.
A number of national monuments such as the Pink Church built in 1859, the local museum built in 1860 and the Edwardian at No 12 Piet Retief Street built in 1904 can be seen in the town.
Vines in the Breede River valley
Following the course of the river once more the next place we arrive at is Bonnievale.
This village is built on the banks of the Breede river and is a farming area where wine and cheese is produced.
The approach road is lined with cannas and roses and provides a wonderful spectacle when they are in flower.
Of interest is the canal system which provides water taken from the Breede River to the valley and the village by means of gravity.
For visitors there are many activities to enjoy and these include wine tastings at several wine cellars in the area, as well as hiking, 4x4 trails, golfing, fishing, canoeing, a trip on the Breede River Goose or bird watching.
Malgas is the next little village we come across on our journey through the Breede River valley.
This historical village positioned on the west bank of the Breede River was originally an important inland harbour but as it was a long way from civilisation very few people knew of its existence.
Today Malgas' claim to fame is the last surviving hand-driven river pontoon in operation in the country.
This pontoon provides a historical a link with the past as it owes it existence to the Dutch settlers who used to build floats that they took with them when they knew that there was a river to cross.
One can still utilise the pontoon to cross the river today.
Other activities in the area are fishing and bird watching.
At the mouth of the Breede River is an estuary which sustains an abundance of fish, including cob, spotted grunter and garrick many of which make their way upriver to the Malgas area.
There are two more villages near the mouth of the Breede River, the first being Witsands which is on the eastern bank of the river and the second being the village of Cape Infanta on the western bank.
Both of the villages which are approximately one kilometre apart are utilised by holiday makers looking for a peaceful holiday and good fishing.
During the winter months San Sebastian Bay at the mouth the Breede river is home to a large number of Southern Right whales which visit the South African coastline each year.
The whales attract many visitors to the villages.
The Breede River is one of the longest rivers in the Western Cape and not only provides water to the Breede River valley but also provides entertainment to people living along its course.
The Breede River valley is a delightful and spectacular area to visit so next time you visit Cape Town why not set some time aside to explore it.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Page updated 11.5.2015