In the heart of the Overberg in the Western Cape, you’ll find white sand dunes and a stretch of unspoilt beaches.
Some friends and I decided to drive along the N2 passing Heidelberg, Swellendam and Riversdale to a small town called Witsand and were very pleased with our discovery. Situated at the mouth of the Breede River, Witsand is rumoured to be one of the last unexploited places on the South African coastline. The town’s main tourist attraction is the majestic Breede River (‘breede’ is Afrikaans for wide) – one of the largest, most navigable rivers in South Africa – and the Breede River estuary.
You know that concept of throwing a dart on a map and seeing where it lands? Well, that’s what we did for this particular trip. A simplified map was downloaded from Google, highlighting coastal places along the N2 and we landed on Witsand. Witsand was once a bustling little town with a port where steamboats loaded goods destined for the Cape Town market. Remains of steamships can still be found at the well-preserved little harbour.
Driving around the village with Jacques Spies, who has been living in Witsand for about a year now, a beautiful white church catches our eyes and we stop to take images. We soon learn about the church and it is a famous landmark of the Barry Memorial Church, built in 1849.
The village has a total population of about 320 people and many hide out here to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The Breede River plays an important role for the Witsand community as it’s widely known as a fisherman’s retreat, supporting an abundance of fish from Spotted grunter, Steenbras, White and Red stumpnose, and Red roman.
So we decided to hop on a boat that will give us better views of the village. The lagoon is flat and spacious, with many boats casting out their nets.
You’ll also find 3000 hectares of undisturbed fynbos. The area is home to the endangered Cape Mountain zebra and Cape vulture, over 260 bird species and the largest concentration of the endangered southern right whale resides along here during whale seasons.
After the boat ride, we found ourselves on the most magnificent sand dunes, watching the sun set. The weekend was one for relaxation and that’s exactly what we received from this quaint area.
Plan your trip to the beautiful Breede River
A 300-kilometre drive from Cape Town along the N2 on Sir Lowry’s Pass will lead you to Witsand. The drive on the N2 is beautiful with plenty to see and many pitstop areas for you to stretch your legs.
Need to know
This small village is far from the many big shops you may be familiar with, so fill up and stock up on food essentials beforehand.
1. Boat trip your way to the bush pubs down the Breede River is advised (weather permitting). The boat ride with Pili Pili Adventures allows you to see what the village has to offer and some of the most exquisite views can be seen from being on the water. 0285371018
2. Drive through Witsand village to see the remains of old steamships and the little harbour there.
3. Go shopping at the curio shop called Zigi for beautiful clothing. I purchased a full outfit for R100 and the clothes were in excellent condition.
4. Go for a surf. Adrenaline junkies will also love Breede River – kitesurfing in Witsand is rated as one of the top destinations in South Africa.
5. Go whale watching during whale season, which is between July and November. You can easily spot the whales from the shoreline.
Address: R324, Witsand
Contact: 0828239777, Breedezicht Estate.
There are a few three-bedroom houses to rent for R2000 per night, which can sleep up to six people. The houses are fully furnished. This self-catering accommodation comes with bedding and towels but please make sure to bring your own food and beverages. The views from the balcony are astonishing.
2. The Breede River Resort and Fishing Lodge
Address: Joseph Barry Drive, Witsand
Contact: 0285371631, The Breede River Resort and Fishing Lodge
The Breede River Resort and Fishing Lodge has several sleeping options. The lodge accommodation varies from a backpackers option and even studio apartments. The apartments are en-suite, some have the river views from the balcony, a TV as well as mini fridge facilities.