Tourism and leisure
The diverse landscapes of the Berg River Catchment offer a wide range of opportunities for tourism and leisure. From the pristine high mountains of the upper catchment where visitors hike and fish, the sophisticated and scenic wine farms of the Drakenstein and beyond, the tranquility of the river and its banks, the carpet of bright flowers along the West Coast area in spring, to the world class birding offered at Langebaan Lagoon and the Berg River Estuary, there is something for everyone.
The estuary, located at the mouth of the river, is also the well-known finishing point for the Berg River Canoe Marathon. The Marathon is an annual 240km race from Paarl to the harbour town of Veldrift. The race has taken place since 1962 and takes place during the winter month of July over a four day period. Typically, heavy precipitation at this time means fast-flowing waters, often through narrow channels along with downed trees and low branches, adding to the difficulty of this endurance race.
There are a number of luxury resorts as well as self-catering camp grounds along the river. Accommodation options boast tranquil settings and a family friendly escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby Cape Town. At Langebaan, families flock to the water on weekends to enjoy watersports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding.
Some of the small towns, such as Aurora and the mission station villages of Goedverwacht and Wittewater, are full of character, with many of the original thatch houses in the latter village having recently been restored. Further upstream, the historic town centres of Paarl and Franschhoek are some of the oldest European settlements in South Africa and offer prime examples of beautiful Cape-Dutch architecture. They also produce some of the best white and red wines in the country, with ample opportunities for wine tasting and fine dining.
Boschendal manor house near Franschhoek. Source: www.wineandonly.com