Why Porterville is the perfect country escape

Posted by David Henning on 8 June 2022

At first glance, Porterville doesn’t seem to differ from other small towns in South Africa; the main road, a church, Spar and an Agrimark. But linger a while longer, or explore a ‘kloof’ in the nearby Winterhoek Mountains, and the town starts to reveal itself.

Why Porterville is the perfect country escape

The town of Porterville was proclaimed in 1863, but its history goes back much further, with an intriguing rock art painting to show for it. The Porterville Galleon is located in the Winterhoek Mountains just above the town and is significant because it is only one of a handful of rock art paintings that depict a sailing ship.

Researchers say that this rare depiction of the 1700s is not only remarkable for the interesting period of South African history it represents, but also for the fact that the artist travelled more than 100 km inland to illustrate a detailed depiction of a coastal scene.

Why Porterville is the perfect country escape

Porterville Galleon

Today, the town is continuing its history of art and has become a haven for artists and creatives, with the town hosting an annual art weekend in October, called Proudly Porterville, and some of its guest houses offering interactive workshops that range from jewellery making, water painting and ceramics.

Due to the increasing popularity of the Proudly Porterville art weekend, the town has launched an offshoot event called Proudly Porterville Art: Winter Series over the weekend of 7-9 July. This will see a collaboration with local artisans and creatives hosting over 25 workshops, and artists opening their studios to the public.

Why Porterville is the perfect country escape

The mountains that serve as a backdrop to Porterville are especially notable, where taking the impressive Dasklip Pass not only provides the best views of the Swartland but is the gateway to a pristine natural environment. From Beaverlac campsite to the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area with its fynbos environment, the lack of phone reception is a proper escape from urban life.

The Winterhoek Mountains form part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site and the region is famous for the rarest of flowers, disa uniflora. It is also home to the sulphur-yellow disa, which has only been found in one small colony near Porterville.

Why Porterville is the perfect country escape

Die Hel In the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is one of the largest rock pools in the Western Cape

If taking the pass is too much of a trek, the 22 Waterfalls private nature reserve is just a stone’s throw away, with an equally impressive hiking trail with, you guessed it, 22 waterfalls.

For the adventure seekers who want more of a thrill, the strong thermals above the mountain make Dasklip Pass Africa’s premier summer paragliding spot and have even hosted the Paragliding World Cup before.

If you prefer to stay on the ground, 22 Waterfalls has a relatively new mountain bike route through the indigenous montane forest where you weave your way through the steep track, ducking overhanging branches.

Why Porterville is the perfect country escape

The MTB trail in 22 Waterfalls.

Those who prefer to venture to the countryside for the tranquillity can enjoy doing just that. Be it in one of Porterville’s homey guesthouses or a private mountain chalet, such as at Berghoff. And while you are relaxing, feel free to indulge in the finer things in life, such as gin at the nearby distillery, Ginsmiths in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains.

Whatever your reason for visiting this dorpie at the foot of the mountains, you are bound to find something to suit your fancy.

For more information, visit Bergrivier Tourism.

Pictures: Bergrivier Tourism

ALSO READ

The Other ‘Die Hel’: Hiking the Groot Winterhoek

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