Take a Detour to Witsand and Malgas

Pont at Malgas
Pont at Malgas Credits:
If you are travelling from Mossel Bay to Cape Town there is an interesting one day (or more) detour down to the sea at Witsand, then back up to the river ferry crossing (pont) at Malgas and then on to either Swellendam or Bredasdorp.

Just past the turnoff from the N2 to Heidelberg watch out for a turning to your left (R322 to Witsand and Port Beaufort). Witsand and Port Beaufort are less than 40 kms away and lie on the northern bank of the Breede River, where it empties into the blue Indian Ocean.

Port Beaufort is steeped in history going back to the seventeenth century. In the mid 1800's entrepreneur Joseph Barry commissioned a new steam assisted sailing ship – the SS Kadie to ply the Breede River up as far as Malgas. The ship would take livestock, ostrich feathers and other agricultural produce down to Port Beaufort and on to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, returning with much needed supplies for farming communities many miles up the Breede River.

The Kadie ran aground in 1865 and river trading began to decline thereafter.
The Breede River Estuary is known as a fantastic fishing spot and this can be seen by the myriad light craft fishing for Kabeljou,  Steenbras and many other species.

The Barry Church built in 1849 (there's some controversy as to the date of completion) still stands at the entrance to Port Beaufort and is still used on a regular basis.

The gravel road from Port Beaufort back to Malgas is well marked and in good condition at the time of writing. As with all gravel roads a lower speed than on tarmac is essential. Weather can have an adverse effect on surface conditions.

The pont at Malgas was commissioned in 1860 and is still manually operated by three labourers who have a unique method of propelling the craft from river bank to river bank. The trip takes less than 10 minutes and affords one the opportunity to take some stunning scenic photographs.

You can either retrace your journey to the N2 or move on to De Hoop Nature Reserve which is between Malgas and Bredasdorp.

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