Piketberg basks on the eastern slopes of the sandstone Piketberg mountain range, 125 kilometres north of Cape Town. Khoi-San rock art sites on local farms are reminders that the area was once inhabited by the San, and later by the Khoi-khoi.
One group, the Cochoqua (led by Gonnema), was often at odds with the Dutch, who built a military outpost in the 1670s (called piket in Dutch) on the mountain and fired a cannon to warn farmers of the Cochoqua’s approach. Today it stands outside Piketberg High School.
The pretty route from Porterville to Piketberg on the R44 goes through wheat fields, vineyards, yellow canola and fallow land. Some comically suggestive aloe flowers welcome tourists to the town.
The neo-Gothic Dutch Reformed Church, with its piercing white turrets, was designed by Carl Otto Hager and built in 1835. Its lofty hilltop location affords lovely views of the surrounding valley and mountains.
Piketberg has wet, cold winters, with average midday temperatures ranging from 17 degrees Celsius to a summer average high of 27 degrees. As the principal town in the Berg River Municipality, it serves as a business hub for farmers and satellite towns, with grocery and clothing shops, petrol and a Spur Steak Ranch.
Look out for
Versveld Pass - was constructed in 1889 and offers breathtaking views of the low-lying areas.
The Swartland Wine Route - from Darling to Porterville, encompasses Piketberg’s vineyards.
An Historical Route is detailed on Piketberg’s tourism website and the Piketberg Museum is housed in a renovated old house and synagogue in town.
Local guest farms offer camping, 4x4 routes and hiking, wine-tasting, mountain-biking, canoeing, bird-watching and fishing. Excelsior Farm and Sandveld Country Cottages offer horse-riding; Langeberg has rock art and Dunn’s Castle has exceptional vistas.
The Banghoek Game Reserve, with nature walks and Khoi-San paintings, is an hour from Piketberg.