Situated 140 kilometres from Cape Town on the R44, Porterville was established in 1863 and named after then Cape attorney-general William Porter. The Jan Danckaert Museum welcomes visitors with a colourful display about the rock art of the Groot Winterhoek.
The region was originally inhabited by the San and the surrounding mountains preserve beautiful examples of their rock art (one depicting a ship). The area is also famed for being the only home of the rare yellow Disa Uniflora.
Hang-gliders and paragliders love Porterville. Nestled on the slopes of the Olifants River Mountains, a phalanx of magnificent undulating masses beckon intrepid flyers to plunge from their lofty crests on powerful thermals. The 70-kilometre mountain range enables cross-country flights of more than 100 kilometres.
Porterville sports a mixture of old and new buildings, with B&Bs, restaurants, coffee shops and an imposing columned church. Its houses have low walls, allowing views of pleasant gardens suggesting a peaceable neatness and functionality.
Look out for
Hang-gliding and paragliding – The launch site at Dasklip Pass provides consistent thermals in summer and good winter training. Contact Flyers' Lodge.
The Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve lies in the mountains east and northeast of Porterville, 35 kilometres from town. There are interesting rock formations, natural swimming pools and San rock art dating back 6 000 years. Overnight hikes can be done via the De Tronk and Die Hel huts (contact CapeNature for information).
Beaverlac Nature Reserve – 25 kilometres outside Porterville, has camping, braai sites, ablutions, natural pools and the Totem Pole hike, and is frequented by family groups.
The Waterval Porterville Trail just outside Porterville starts and ends at Waterval Vakansieplaas, where the Olifants River Mountains merge with the foothills of Groot Winterhoek. The eight-hour route traverses gorges, mountain tops, waterfalls, pools, tricky rocks and steps; it requires fitness. Chalet accommodation and camping are at Waterval Vakansieplaas.