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They say first impressions are the most lasting, and driving over a ridge on the main highway along the coast to see the splendid view of the Great Brak River presented before you, is sure to remain an image forever stamped in your mind.
Great Brak River is a small village on the southern coast of South Africa and named after the winding, dark river that forms a lagoon alongside the village before spilling out into the Indian Ocean. The name Brak is Afrikaans for brackish, which is the colour of the pure mountain water, stained by tannins released from fynbos plants.
Great Brak River is primarily a holiday hamlet for visitors seeking either a subdued beach breakaway or as a starting point to commence a tour of the Garden Route, one of South Africa’s premier vacation destinations. It’s a peaceful refuge where the locals welcome visitors to briefly enjoy the pleasures they are fortunate enough to experience year round.
Top 6 reasons to visit Great Brak River
1. Spend a lazy day on Hersham Beach east of the river mouth where dolphins are regularly spotted. Walk up the river to swim in the lagoon if the surf is too rough. Lifeguards are present on the beach during school holidays.
2. Hire a canoe and paddle along the meandering river to reach the thick wooded riverine forests and the many birds that inhabit the area. Look out for the colourful blue-mantled crested flycatcher.
3. Collect your map from the Great Brak Info Centre to attempt the Wolwedans Hiking Trail. The trail is a 6km roundtrip and follows the river course. In some places, the views are truly majestic.
4. Hire a rod for fresh water fishing on the nearby Wolwedans Dam. The dam is stocked with bass and has an impressive 70m-high dam wall.
5. The 3500ha Botlierskop Private Game Reserve offers day visitors a range of activities from guided game drives to horseback outrides. The reserve has an onsite spa to relax after a strenuous horseback ride.
6. Travel into Mossel Bay to explore the Bartolomeu Dias museum complex that includes a replica of the great mariner’s caravel, a shell museum and the historic post office tree and freshwater spring so significant in world history. While in the town, shop for supplies at the Mossel Bay Mall. The mall has 60 stores and ample parking.
Great Brak River is 21km from the George Airport which receives domestic flights from Cape Town International Airport. Car hire companies are located at the George Airport or in the town, otherwise order one online. Many visitors to this part of the country hire a vehicle in Cape Town and travel the 400km for a full Garden Route experience. Metered taxi and shuttle companies operate from George, however, a rental is your best option.
Did you know?
The lagoon on the Great Brak River has split into 2 channels with an island between the two. This has become a residential area known as The Island and is reached by a single bridge causeway. The bridge was, up until recently, constructed of wood.
The road crossing the Great Brak River was once a wagon trail and where a toll was placed. The first toll keeper, through imaginative entrepreneurship, built up various industries to establish a permanent town here.