Malgas is located on the sleepy banks of the lovely Breede River, some 25km upstream from the mouth. It’s not a big town – hell, it would make a hamlet seem big! Just 44 people live here, along with a delightful old store, a small hotel (the Malagas Hotel), some dilapidated barns, a few rather nice holiday homes along the river banks and, well, that sums it up. Oh, and the pont. And the ebike riding!
Originally called Malagas, it was, it seems, the gateway to the interior from Cape Town. To get your goods to the Swellendam area, it was easier, quicker and far less arduous to transport them by boat to Port Beaufort harbour at the mouth of the Breede River by sea, load the cargo onto a steamer (most probably the 158 ton Kadie) and sail upstream to the bustling commercial centre of Malagas and its pontoon ferry service (or pont), Then, and only then, by ox wagon into the interior. The hand drawn pont service began in about 1860 and continues today – now the only service of its kind in the country. And if you are in a rush, this is not for you. Especially if the pont is on the opposite bank and the operators are having lunch. Or tea. The whole episode can take a while but don’t fight it, become part of it and I guarantee you will love the experience.
Anyway. All this matters not one bit when you are heading into the area to do some mountain biking and ebike touring. The onset of some flu put paid to what seems to be a very pleasant riding destination, but we did some scouting in the area, logging a couple of routes that we’d like to tackle in the future. Malgas provides very easy access to Infanta, Witsand and De Hoop Nature Reserve. All worth exploring on an ebike.
We stayed at the Malagas Hotel. It’s reasonably priced, very comfortable with pleasant staff and good wholesome food. A few kilometres away (in the direction of Infanta, Bredasdorp and De Hoop) is the Breede River Trading Store that serves the finest egg and bacon rolls we’ve ever eaten (ask them to serve the roll open with and egg and some bacon on each side), fine coffee and marshmallow “ice cream” cones sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. Now, when last did you eat one of those?!
There is a rather interesting looking circular route (50km) to the west of Malgas. We have not explored these roads but it could certainly be worth exploring by the looks of things on Tracks4Africa and Google earth.
And then, the guys from Infanta’s Mtb Club have laid out a bunch of rather interesting looking trails in the Potberg area. A permit is needed to ride these and more information can be found on their web site.
Route Conditions: The roads are generally quite good in the area, if a little corrugated from time to time. We had a sprinkling of rain while we were there and I must say they they were still very rideable. It can get very hot in the area so be sure to take along adequate water, an energy bar or two, and a sandwich or something in case there is nothing open in Witsand. And of course, don’t forget the sunscreen.
Malgas: S34° 18.098′ E20° 35.296′
Infanta: S34° 25.296′ E20° 51.287′
De Hoop Gate: S34° 25.305′ E20° 24.520′
Witsand: S34° 23.798′ E20° 51.278′