A 140 km drive north from Cape Town lands you in Porterville, a picturesque town on the slopes of the beautiful Olifants River Mountains. Climatic conditions vary from dry, hot summers with powerful thermals followed by severe winters, with snow on the mountain peaks and storms rolling in from the Atlantic coast in the west.
The Dasklip Pass takes one to the mountain and the Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve.
Perfect thermals has earned Porterville recognition as an international paragliding venue and it is also a popular hang-gliding spot. Local operators provide shuttle services to launch sites on Dasklip Pass. On the outskirts of Porterville, visitors can enjoy a circular, 22 waterfalls hiking trail, or opt for the more strenuous trails (Die Hell rock-pool) in the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area. While walking here, look out for the scarce yellow Disa, which likes the humid waterfalls. As it is a wilderness area, hikers are not compelled to stay on the routes, and may explore the rock formations and caves along the trails and overnight in the veld, making it an increasing popular destination for ‘kloofing'.
Quite a few venues offer mountain bike trails, accommodating both the recreational and more technical cyclists. Fresh water bass fishing can be enjoyed at a number of venues, and campers have a wide selection of options.
In town, visit the Jan Danckaert Museum for a display of local San rock art, including the famous ‘galleon’. Other displays include, antique farming implements and traditional Voortrekker ox wagons. Throughout the town a fine collection of late Victorian residences, dating back to as early as the 1860s, can be viewed.
Blue Cranes are often spotted in large numbers. If you are lucky you may spot a pair doing their elaborate, elegant, courting dance routine. The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness area, 25 kms from Porterville, offers Verreaux’s Eagle, Pergrine Falcon, Cape Rock-jumper etc.
Visitors to Porterville can choose either to enjoy barrel fermented wines produced by local garagistes or do a wine tasting at the wine cellar, and don’t leave without a bottle of Porterville’s own Porter Mill Station export wine.