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The Breed River Valley is an immensely fertile region flanked by two towering mountain ranges and a river flowing through its centre. Livestock, wine and fruit farms along the river are neatly divided, creating a patchwork of coloured hues, the valley completed by pretty little towns lining the roads, all spotless and welcoming.
The warm valley floor and hot sun is a perfect recipe for the cultivating of sweet wines and ideal too, for fruit growing. Temperatures rise into the 30s during summer and in the winter the days are crisp, averaging 14° Celsius.
The valley is named after the Breede River, breede meaning wide in Dutch. Farming the valley increased markedly in the 1830s when an intrepid entrepreneur, Joseph Barry, first sent a boat down the river to deliver provisions. He and his nephews established a trade route on the river and today the town of Barrydale honours their name.
The fresh champagne air, friendly residents and interesting attractions makes for a relaxed vacation.
Top 8 reasons to visit the Breede River Valley
1. Photographers will revel in the ever-changing scenes, dramatic panoramas and character portraits available to them in the Breede River Valley. Autumn in the Hex River Valley is a popular spot to photograph the fields splashed with gold, red and deep orange colours.
2. Church Street in Tulbagh is crammed with national heritage sites and a museum ticket grants entry into three of the old restored homes and the beautiful church that escaped the devastating earthquake of 1969. Have a meal under the large trees inhabited by several giant eagle owls at the Paddagang restaurant.
3. Worcester is the largest town in the Breed River Valley and has a casino and the sprawling Mountain Mill shopping centre at its entrance. On the outskirts of town is the Kleinplasie Living Open Air Museum, a village modelled on the country’s colonial past. Employees dressed in period costume demonstrate forgotten skills such as candle making and blacksmithing.
4. Blindiana Barista in Worcester is worth visiting to view the amazing old exhibits relating to the visually impaired as well as an outdoor fossil park. The popular restaurant occasionally hosts live bands. Try the superb coffee brewed by the country’s first blind Barista.
5. Ask your host to recommend a restaurant or be invited to a local’s home to savour Cape Malay cooking, a unique blend of food brought in by slaves from various cultures. Waterblommetjie bredie, a stew made from the Cape pondweed, is a favourite.
6. The town of Montagu welcomes day visitors to their hot springs resorts. Montague is a regular winner of the Best Town Destination award and is filled with architectural marvels. Don’t leave without tasting muscadel, a sweet dessert wine.
7. Robertson is along the Route 62 wine route, the world’s longest, and offers the wine connoisseur a valued wine tasting experience at the more than 25 wine estates surrounding the town. While in the town, stop off at the Affie Plaas farmstall to sample their legendary pies.
8. Hire an inflatable or canoe and enjoy river rafting along the Breed River. There are small rapids in some areas to liven up the journey. Certain wine farms offer a river boat cruise as part of their wine tasting experience.
The nearest airport is Cape Town International Airport, roughly 125km away. Car rental agencies are located in all major towns and at the airport or order a rental online and collect at a convenient location. Shuttle service companies, tour operators and metered taxis offer drives through the Breede River Valley but a rental is the most practical option.
Did you know?
The world’s largest Zambezi (bull) shark was recorded in the Breede River several years ago. The pregnant shark was found over 5km upstream and measured 4m in length.
In the mid-1800s, the Barry & Nephews Company issued their own bank notes which consumers could use to purchase goods and exchange for cash at their stores and offices in both Cape Town and London. The bank note led to the opening of the London and South Africa Bank in the Cape. This bank was later incorporated into the Standard Bank.