MALGAS / MALAGAS
Malagas,also called Malgas, is a remote village which boasts one of the few ferries remaining in South Africa. Here and there you can still see road signs with the original Malagas name. Either way, both names will take you to the same place. It is said that the name of the village was changed from Malagas to Malgas because post for the village used to end up in Malaga, Spain.
Malagas was a busy trading post and little wharf in roundabout the 1850. The Dutch Reformed Church was build in 1856 and is still in use today. This was the time when the trader Joseph Barry built a 156 ton ship, the Kadie to travel with its merchandise of in particular wool, skins and dried aloe sap between Cape Town and Port Beaufort. Then travelling 48km up in the Breede River to Malagas the Kadie carried produce from Cape Town from where it was carried on ox wagons into the then hardly accessible Overberg region. The Barry stores were on the banks of the Breede River, which enabled their clients to bring their wagons right up to the wharf, before the pontoon-crossing. This was also the same time the pont started operating. The Kadie shipwrecked in 1865 and Barry's trading took a huge jilt, but the pont survived, until replaced by a new ferry in 2020.
The pont that was in use was built in 1914 and it worked in the same manner as it did before - two men using the strength of their legs and chain straps pull the pont over the river. Today the ferry is still the only crossing over the Breede River between Swellendam and the sea. In the 1916's the fee for crossing was 4 pennies per wheel. Taking a trip on this ferry leaves one with a feeling of nostalgia and also in awe of this incredible river. The ferry operates daily between 06h00 and 18h00 (except in extreme weather conditions/floods)
Except for the Malagas Hotel there are only 2 other pubs in the Malgas area. They are open on most weekends and holidays. These pubs are owner run and therefore have seasonal trading hours.
Sijnn Wines of Malgas
A beautiful pioneering wine estate in the middle of nowhere at the end of a long, dusty, bumpy road at the Southern tip of Africa. When David and Rita Trafford visited the Malgas region for the first time in 2000, they were blown away with the incredible soils specifically in the Lemoentuin area and immediately set about finding a suitable property to purchase.
Open for Wine tasting on Saturdays - Contact: 021 880 1611
LOWER BREEDE RIVER CONSERVANCY
Malagas Hotel is within the Lower Breede river Conservancy area. Please respect all plant and animal life in the area, even the little ones.
The Lower Breede River Conservancy is the officially appointed Management Authority of the Lower Breede River and Estuary. The Breede River is the largest navigable river in South Africa and is known for the rich fishing grounds and overall biodiversity, a real gem of the Overberg and Eden area.
Our responsibility is to protect the valuable natural resource that is the Breede River Estuary and its environs and to promote, and ensure adherence to, best practices of nature conservation, both terrestrial and aquatic and, observance of all regulations pertaining to the use of the Estuary and the adjoining land areas.
Witsand is a little seaside resort situated at the mouth of the Breede River. It has unspoilt beaches and a small harbour from where you can go sailing or fishing. This is regarded as one of South Africa's top fishing locations and offers spear-fishing, deep-sea and river-fishing, as well as fly-fishing and snorkelling.
It was the Southern Right Whales that put Witsand on the map, especially in the 90's, because San Sebastian Bay is considered the "Whale Nursery of South Africa". Investigating from a helicopter in October 1999, Dr. Best, a whale expert, confirmed a count of 233 whales in the Bay. On a good day, a whale watcher may observe up to 70 capering whales. At the beach restaurant there is a telescope on the roof, whale watching platform that magnifies the whales up to 10 times. The platform is a perfect place from which to view the gentle giants of the sea and can accommodate about 90 people and there is plenty of parking. Whale-watching season starts in June and lasts until November each year.
The central feature of the Malagas/Witsand area is the magnificent Breede River, one of the largest, most navigable rivers in South Africa and a birdwatchers’ paradise.
Infanta is a small holiday resort and fishing hamlet, framed by a rocky headland, situated on the western side of the Breede River in the St Sebastian Bay. Infanta is named after Joao Infante, commander of the second caravel under Bartholomeu Dias. Access to Infanta is along a roller-coasting gravel road that turns off the N2 just west of Swellendam. St Sebastian Bay and the surrounding hills cloaked in fynbos are a nature lover's and fisherman's delight. There is a slipway for launching powerboats at Infanta and a rocky shoreline with good diving and angling spots. Witsand is accessible via crossing the Breede River by your own boat/canoe or via the Malgas pont.
The Southern Right Whales (May to November/December) is a major attraction to many visitors, who come to San Sebastian Bay especially to watch them. Aerial surveys starting back in 1969 marked St Sebastian Bay off Cape Infanta as a breeding ground for Southern Right Whale. The Infanta point really protects the St Sebastian Bay from heavy seas therefore whales seem unaffected by their close proximity to the steep cliffs and rocky shores.
DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE
De Hoop is one of the largest natural areas managed by Cape Nature. This beautiful reserve is a favourite for hikers, cyclists, and bird and whale watchers. The reserve, which is 34 000 hectares, is just 30 minutes drive from Malagas, in the Overberg.
The neighbouring marine reserve, which extends 5km out to sea, is one of the largest marine protected areas in Africa. It conserves a vast and fascinating variety of marine life.
Visitors should be on the lookout for bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, grey rhebok, baboon and yellow mongoose. De Hoop is also home to the shy caracal and leopard.
De Hoop’s marine reserve is a breeding ground for the southern right whale. About 120 whales return to these waters every year to mate and calve. The high dunes at Koppie Alleen offer an excellent vantage point for whale watching.
De Hoop’s large, clear rock pools are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Enjoy the reserve’s natural beauty from your saddle on one of the many mountain bike trails through the reserve. Please use sunscreen, riding gear and make sure you have plenty of water on the trail.
Bring along your binoculars to get up close and personal with some of the 260 bird species in the reserve. Potberg at De Hoop is home to the only remaining Western Cape breeding colony of the rare Cape vulture.