Before the Carinus Bridge was built over the Bergrivier a ‘pont’ operated at this spot which was an ideal place for crossing the “drif in die veld’ hence Velddrif.
Cerebos has many salt pans here which attract wide a variety of birdlife such as Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Great White Pelicans, Chestnut Banded Plovers, to name but a few and in October one may have a rare opportunity to see a Red Necked Phalarope. Swartjiesbaai offers an ardent birder larks, maybe a Fish Eagle, Pied Kingfishers, Avocets, along with Black Winged Stilts.
If you find yourself at the Carinus Bridge in the middle of July you will see the end of the Bergrivier Canoe Marathon. This event takes place over 4 days starting in Paarl and ending at the Carinus Bridge. The first Berg River Canoe Marathon was held in 1962 and has gained a reputation for being one of the toughest courses in the world, also being the longest in South Africa.
As we carry on upstream we pass the bird hide and arrive at ‘Bokkom Laan’ where bokkoms (dried fish) are made in the same traditional way which dates back more than 300 years. The local fishers are only too happy to share the process with the visitor if asked. A meal at one of the eateries along here is a must. Our journey now takes us under the ‘Railway Bridge’ which has a place in the Guiness Book of Records. The Saldanha – Sishen iron ore train crosses the Bergrivier at this point. The longest train ever at 7,1km long, today the train is 4km long.
Further upstream where the first farmers settled on farms called Kersefontein, bought by Martin Melck in 1770 on the west bank and Langrietvlei (land originally granted in 1715) on the eastern bank. Both these homesteads are declared national monuments. The Velddrif Heritage Society takes a keen interest in preserving the heritage of this town.
Back in town Velddrif offers a wide variety of activities like boat trips, kayaking and fishing on the Berg River. Visit the salt factory and find out what a Baumemetre is and how salt is washed, as the harvesting of salt is a huge part of this town. Craft shops, galleries, and a variety of service orientated businesses are to be found.
Take a few days out to join us at the Bergrivier Winter Carnival which coincides with the end of the annual Berg River Canoe Marathon in July. It is also time to wonder at the daisies which show their faces to the sun. Verges and empty plots are a testimony to God’s creation when we look at the delicate blooms of the Spiloxene capensis (Sterretjie).
Only 90 min drive from Cape Town, this town is a must see if you are exploring what the West Coast has to offer!