Location: 55 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Gamtoos-region of the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Date Visited: 3 – 5 February 2012 (Summer)

Website: Bergrivier

Recommendation: Bergrivier is the ideal self-catering weekend destination for a family who enjoys nature, the outdoors & getting away from the rush & noise of the city.

Booking Information: +27422860694 or +27822003350 or


We left Nelson Mandela Bay just after three that afternoon.

It was Friday.

It was raining as if it hadn’t rained for months.

We’d been looking forward to our weekend at Bergrivier.

We weren’t going to let the rain take it away from us.

It had been a tough week.

Early mornings.

Long hours at work.

Lots to deal with.

The great thing about Bergrivier is its proximity to Nelson Mandela Bay.

It wasn’t even 45 minutes before we stopped our Landy at the reception area.

Japie & Dori, the owners of Bergrivier, welcomed us & showed us to our accommodation.  A magnificent rock-cottage on a slight rise with the most exquisite view of mountains & forest.

This is Bergrivier’s best.

Two bedrooms, a bathroom & generous open plan living area with a kitchen.

Japie crafted this cottage over a 12 month period.

With his own hands.

The attention to detail is astounding.

It sleeps six.

We are five.

On Friday night it rains incessantly.

We settle in.

With supper Dori also brings some extra board games.

We packed our Backgammon-set.  And our playing cards.  Enough books.  If the rain kept us indoors, we would not be stranded.

At Bergrivier you could choose the catered option & you wouldn’t be making a mistake – Dori’s food is wonderful.

The variety of accommodation & options at Bergrivier is another attractive feature.

You could stay as we did, in the very comfortable rock-cottage, dinner, bed & breakfast at R310 per person.

Or you could go self-catering at R200 per person, staying in the rock-cabin, the log-cabin or the rondawel.

You could also stay in the Pioneer-camp at R120 per person.  This must be quite the experience as you spend the night in a completely restored ox-wagon, with ‘Oom Hoffie’ coming round in the morning to teach you everything about the history of South African Pioneers.

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Bergrivier is steeped in history.

The land has been under the family’s care since 1862.  They saw the arrival of the narrow-gauge railroad in the early twentieth century, as well as its redundancy a mere 80 years later.

From the camping grounds, which is your third accommodation option at Bergrivier (R50 per person), you can see the original homestead on the banks of the river.

There is a river here.

A beautiful one.

On Saturday morning when we wake up, the skies are clear.

Dori serves us a hearty breakfast before we take the children to spend some time with ‘Oom Hoffie’ at the ox-wagons.

Then we take the hike along the river to the waterfall.

It takes us two hours to get there.  After the heavy rain the river is a bit fuller than usual.  The waterfall is strong.  We swim.  The children invent a slide down the waterfall.

Laughter joins the call of the Knysna Loerie high up in trees.

Late afternoon we find our way back to our cottage.

It was a magnificent Saturday.

We smelled the forest.

We touched a river crab.

We saw the bright red & green of the Knysna Loerie as it swooped down between us to grab a spider from its web.

We felt damp mulch & cool mountain water on our feet.

We spoke.



Zuko takes a shower while the children excitedly remember the details of our afternoon.

We laugh at the video of Zuko taking on the Waterfall slide with her 7-month pregnant body.

Supper is served at the Pioneer-camp.

A traditional lamb-potjie.

Japie entertains us with stories of his childhood on Bergrivier.  Of neighbors long gone and a time long forgotten.

As the sun sets we find our way to our cottage.

We have time to read.

To talk.

To drift off to sleep.

Sunday is leisurely.

We walk again.

We swim.

We read.

Bergrivier is a place to slow down.

It is a place to kindle relationships.

To discover what might’ve been lost.

It is a place to visit & re-visit.

Its proximity to Nelson Mandela Bay & its affordability making it quite possible to visit & re-visit.

It is an unpretentious place.

As we drive home I ask our children: so, did you enjoy the weekend?

‘Yes!” they exclaim.

‘One day I’m bringing my children to swim in that waterfall’, says Theunsie.

And I believe him.

Click HERE to Watch Our Family Video 🙂

Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “Bergrivier

  1. Annamarie Steensma

    Sounds so appealing!!! Made me decide to visit as as soon as I go to Addo again!!!! Heavenly way to relax and just escape the usual rat race!!!!

  2. Sounds like heaven on earth! Going to definitely have to visit!

  3. Nadia Nortje

    This sounds so wonderful, specially the pioneer option. Our children don’t learn about that age anymore, so it would be lovely to experience this with them, a little bit of their own history. And what can be a better place than Nature all around you, just like God intended for us to enjoy!

    • Andrea Wood

      Hi Nadia, – so true (about the educational aspect). I love going to places where Courtney (my daughter) and I learn things too.

  4. Paul Hendricks

    10 out of 5!!.. 🙂

  5. maritza

    Bergivir looks like the purrrrrfect spot for a family that just ador the out side live and nature and just to be surounded by Gods word all by His Hand ! Amen blessings to all

  6. Natasha Smith

    I would like take my son to swin in the waterfall, sure he will enjoy just as much as your family did….must make a plan!

  7. So often we need time to reflect….. to just be still and know that HE IS……. Our lives are so wrapped up in “musts” and “wants” and “need to do’s” ….. we need to time out. We need to reflect on His wonderful creation, the majesty of the mountains and rivers, the way it changes in the light,,,,,,and the detail in even the smallest insect and flower….
    We need to prioritise our existance and purpose, focus on our values and families…
    It seems that Bergrivier is an ideal place…. to BE blessed.

  8. Your family is your most valuable asset! Quality time as well as quantity time spent with family is critical. Making a break from routine is essential. Planning a breakaway for a family should be high on the priority list. Breakaways refresh the body, mind & spirit. Memories last for ever.
    All the above are true and critical.
    But most of all, I really, really, really, really just want to go!!!

  9. One of my favourite places on earth … close to Jeffreys Bay … will come and visit next time, promise!

  10. Maretha Heyns

    Fantasties !!! Lekker om die mooi so saam met almal te geniet.

    Weereens baie geluk met alles wat julle in die jare al vermag het.
    Puik stuk werk . Ruim en vêr rimpel die die herinneringe uit.

    Daar word so baie mense geestelik en liggaamlik op Bergrivier gevoed.
    Dankie dat ons ook van die ‘oorvloed’ van al die gasvryheid kon geniet.

  11. lauren currie

    It looks amazing!! I love the way you write too!! I can’t wait to visit Bergrivier!

  12. Marius en Charlo Blignault

    Werklik `n wonderlike plek om te besoek. Regtig `n oase waar `n mens jou siel kan verkwik. Dit is lekker om vriende te hê wat ook die natuur waardeer.Dankie Japie en Dorie vir julle vriendskap.

  13. jeff ferreira

    I had the pleasure of camping here for a weekend. A truley enjoyable place to spend a weekend relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the hiking and nature. It was also a pleaseure to enjoy the warm hospitality of the Japie and Dorie Williams who made us feel very welcome. Definitely worth going back for more visits.

  14. Gareth Andrews

    I stayed at Bergrivier campsite a few months ago, and let me tell you the place is amazing! Nestled away from the hustle and bustle of Port Elizabeth this little gem is definitely one to recommend. Perfect for when you want relax with nature and minimalize the influence of the modern world.

    The owners Japie and Dorie are exceptionally nice people, real salt of the earth type. The scenery is amazing and the walk to the waterfall is beautiful. The prices are affordable to everyone so its really a place that everyone should make an effort to go and try.

  15. angie

    sounds lekker:-)

  16. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of this sooner – sounds great. The idea of the ox wagon particularly appeals to me (too many cowboys movies as a child (o:). It sounds like the sort of place you would want to take your kids to, and they would take their own kids when they’re grown up. (a place of history and memories).

  17. Geo en Ottilie de Kock

    Wat ‘n lekkerte is dit nie om te hoor nie hoe Bergrivier blom! Dis waar! Ons weet. Vandat Japie en Dorie daar nesgeskop het “om af te tree”?!!, tot vandag, het hulle skouer aan die wiel gesit en klip vir klip begin bou, regmaak, mooimaak en mense ontvang – tydig en ontydig, in gasvryheid en in werk! Ons Skepper se genade en sorg verstom ons as ons na julle kyk en aan jul dink. Vir elkeen wat daar kom voel dit soos “huis”, waarheen jy weer en weer kan terugkom om te rus, nie net in die mooi, oop natuur nie, maar ook in die vriendelikheid en liefde van die mense wat jou ontvang. Hoogs aanbeveel!

  18. Geo en Ottilie de Kock

    We’ve had the privilege to be there when Japie and Dorie started to build up where time and absence of humans have broken down and made derelict. But nature was still there, waiting patiently: the river, mountain fynbos, proteas and a variety of other flowers of the veld, depending on the time of the year. Mountains all around and even more majestic in the distance. Lots to explore. Slow time. Silence. And friendly care. Going there, you won’t regret.

  19. Awesome! Love getting out there, camping and having nature all around you 🙂 Cant wait for the Friday- and Monday mornings….something new and exciting to look forward to, thanks Kingfisher FM!!! Will be following the BLOG as well. Enjoy Traveling Tribe and may it not only be a time to relax and enjoy the nature, but again appreciating what we have around us 🙂 Blessings!

  20. Baie dankie vir julle almal se kommentaar! Ons waardeer dit regtig baie. Dankie Travelingtribe vir wat julle vir ons gedoen het.!! Mag Bergrivier nog vir baie mense tot groooot seën wees!! En die wat nog nie hier was nie, kom kuier!! Baie geluk Antoinette wat die naweek op Bergrivier gewen het!! Ons sien julle een van die dae. Japie en Dorie

  21. Andrea Wood

    Awesome guys! Love the idea of the ox wagon for accomodation – a totally different experience. It’s on my list for sure.

  22. Pingback: Mountain Zebra National Park « travelingtribe

  23. Hey
    Your piece on Bergrivier travelingtribe is interesting and also thought provoking.

    I want to be back to go through your articles.

  24. Pingback: A Final Bit of Wonder | Traveling Tribe

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