The town of Porterville is small enough to enable half day walkabouts. Pop in at the Jan Danckaert Museum and get information on some of the historic buildings to explore, of which the impressive Dutch Reformed Church, situated in the centre of town, is one. Quite a few examples of Victorian vernacular is hidden in the suburbs and within walking distance. Choose from a variety of coffee shops to take a break during your stroll and interact with the locals. Selected shops display arts and crafts of the prolific number of artists residing in town.
Porterville is also the gateway to a selection of adventure and outdoor experiences, situated on the edge of town and at Porterville-on-the-Mountain. From hard-core adventure activities to eco-tourism options, provide ample choice for a weekend getaway.
Remember that summer (November – March) temperatures can reach the high 30s – fortunately most accommodation facilities has swimming pools, which offers relieve. Winters are usually wet and cold, with possible snowfalls on the surrounding mountains.
Choose from the following things to see and do:
ADVENTURE & OUTDOORS
Birding: The endangered blue crane are often spotted in large numbers. If you’re lucky you may spot a pair doing their elaborate courting dance routine. Keep a look out for these gracious birds who frequent the wheat fields surrounding town. Regular sightings of the booted and Verreux’s Eagle are recorded on the mountain.
Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area /www.capenature.co.za
Disa Tours: Porterville is disa country and the town made history years ago when the scarce yellow disa unifora was discovered here in a small colony. Since then the yellow disa has not been spotted again. The “Pride of Table Mountain”, the magnificent red disa, are still present in the area and are in full bloom during February. These delicate flowers flourish in the cool areas around waterfalls, where it tenaciously cling to cliff edges. Though they can be spotted in numerous location on the mountain, to ensure a sighting, contact Groot Winterhoek Wilderness area for guided walks during season. Booking is essential and all walks require a permit.
Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area
Mountain Biking: The area has of yet not any accredited trails, but many accommodation establishments on the mountain offers informal biking on their properties. Do ask your host about these opportunities. Campers at Beaverlac often explore the area by bike.
Hiking & Kloofing: The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area with its ‘rugged rock formations, clear mountain pools and a patchwork of fynbos’ is a hikers dream. It offers a selection of marked hiking trails, of varying lengths and many provide welcome swimming opportunities. Here hikers do not have to stick to trails. You can explore the area’s rock formations and caves, and overnight in the veld. Kloofing is an adrenalin-pumping way to explore Groot Winterhoek and its clear mountain pools. Die Hel to De Hoek is a demanding kloofing route, with no footpath. It involves a combination of hiking, leaping off cliffs into deep pools and swimming through mountain streams. Kloofing is not for the faint-hearted and is 9.5km.
For bookings contact Cape Nature /www.capenature.co.za
Some accommodation establishments on the mountain offer informal and unmarked hiking trails on their properties, but is offered at own risk. Do ask your host about these opportunities.
Also try Pampoenfontein /www.pampoenfontein.co.za.
Paragliding & hang-gliding: The area’s location, topography and climate makes Porterville a popular paragliding venue. Local operators provide shuttle services to launch sites on Dasklip Pass which also provide a spectacular view of the area. Spectators are welcome to witness launches.
For all paragliding enquiries contact: Flyers Lodge /www.porterville.co.za
Rock Art: Originally the region was inhabited by the San (Bushmen) centuries before the arrival of the Dutch Settlers and the mountains in the region contain numerous rock art sites. Rock art is protected by the National Monuments Act (1969) and vandals who deface rock paintings face high fines. Therefore most of the sites, now located on private land, are not open to the public. Examples of some of the rock art is on exhibit in the Jan Danckaert Museum in town. For the more energetic, as reaching these sites often include strenuous activity, the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness area offers some remarkable examples of San and Khoi rock art. These paintings, found in rocky overhangs and caves, vary between 300 and 6 000 years.
Beaverlac also has several caves on the farm, some of which are decorated with paintings. Access to these are only permitted if accompanied by a guide.
Jan Danckaert Museum:
Cape Nature /www.capenature.co.za
Waterfalls & rock pools: Definitely one of the ‘must sees’ of Porterville, the area boasts a 22-waterfall route, numerous clear mountain pools and spectacular waterfalls. Visitors with limited time to their disposal can opt to visit the start of the 22 waterfall route, situated on the edge of town on the farm Waterval. Day visitors can get access to this stunning attraction at a modest fee. Though the whole route requires some degree of fitness, the start of the route will satisfy even the laziest. The complete circular route offers panoramic views overlooking the valley of Porterville and Piketberg. At Beaverlac the rivers have channelled their way through rock formations into deep pools and waterfalls. A spectacular mountain pool with waterfall is within a 5 minute walk from the camp site. The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is home to one of the area’s natural gems, namely Die Hel. Die Hel is a 15 m long pool. The pool is very deep and one of the largest in the Western Cape. The route is easy until you reach the gorge. The descent to the swimming pool is very steep and difficult.
Cape Nature /www.capenature.co.za
ARTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE
Jan Danckaert Museum: The Jan Danckaert Society was established in 1973 and the Museum in 1979. The Museum was named after the leader of the first expedition that travelled through this area in 1660. The building was erected in 1879 and was initially used as the court. The exhibits focuses on the local history of the town and surrounding area and has an extensive collection of agricultural implements on display. The Museum also has some replicas of the San Rock Art as found in the area – of which the Galleon is the best known. The Museum curator will also be able to direct visitors to some of the historical buildings in town.
Operational hours: Weekdays: 09:00 – 16:00; Saturdays: 09:00 – 13:00. Closed on Sundays and public holidays.
Gift shops: local craftsmen’s work is available at selected shops. For a variety of gifts, arts & crafts and home-made produce, visit these shops:
Kaya Crafts, Décor, Gifts : /
Wine tasting: Visitors to Porterville have two choices, either enjoy barrel fermented wines produced by garagiste, or do a wine tasting at the Porterville depot of the Tulbagh Wine Cellar. During harvesting season (February) local garagiste, Fan Oliver shows visitors how barrel fermented wine is produced according to the old ways with a vintage winepress. The Porterville cellar has been certified to manufacture organic wines. During December and February the Cellar is a hive of activity as grapes are brought in by the truckload from the surrounding farms. Wine connoisseurs should pop in at the Porterville Cellar for a taste of the Porter Mill Station range of export wine, recently branded as one of Porterville Tourism’s trademark products.
Tulbagh Wine Cellar
Special notice: The Tulbagh Wine Cellar is currently closed for renovations and will be opening August September 2016. Operational hours to be announced.
Suggested route: See the Proudly Porterville Route for a further selection of things to do.
Contact: Porterville Tourism
Office Hours: Monday- Friday 08:30-17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 13:00