De Drinken is a campsite located on the Berg River near Moorreesburg. It is conveniently close to Cape Town (about 1.5 hours’ drive), and yet you feel like you are in another world. The camp site is situated on a working farm, called Drie Heuwels Farm.
The farm, Drie Heuwels, is situated next to the Berg River, 23 km from the nearest town of Moorreesburg and 100 km from Cape Town on the N7-route towards Namibia. De Drinken is situated in the heart of the Swartland.
The Swartland is a region of the Western Cape Province that begins about 50 kilometres north of Cape Town. Jan van Riebeeck called this part of the Western Cape between the mountain ranges “Het Zwarte Land” (the Black Land) because of the indigenous Renosterbos. After the rains, mainly in winter, the Renosterbos takes on a dark appearance when viewed from the distance in large numbers. This is due to the fine leaf-hairs sticking to the leaves when wet. This area is the bread basket of Cape Town with its wheat fields reaching up to the foot of the mountains, together with all the wine, fruit, and vegetable farms.
The best way is to take the N7 to Moorreesburg and turn right onto the Gouda road. Follow this road for 15km (tar for the first 5km) and then turn left at the farm sign. Then it is a quick 3km to the gate. And don’t make the mistake of asking auntie Google to take you to De Drinken; she took us via Riebeeck Kasteel and then through various farm roads, most of which end at locked gates!
A detailed map is available on the De Drinken website.
There is only one campsite, which is very big and can comfortably accommodate 4 trailers.
Irrespective if you are a large crowd, or just a couple looking for peace and quiet, the camp is only booked out to one party at a time. You pay a fee for the campsite, which is reasonable, and then you pay a per person fee per day (also reasonably priced).
There is a covered lapa area, with a kitchen work table, tap and a large braai.
The camp is set amidst a gumtree “forest”, and these beautiful giants provide ample shade and serve as a convenient wind break when the south-easter is doing its thing. Due to the shade, there is not much grass, but this doesn’t distract from the idyllic setting. Sure, gumtrees are an issue because they consume vast quantities of water. Follow this link for more information on Indigenous Plants. The campsite and scenery reminded us of when we lived in Australia for a couple of years many, many moons ago which brought back fond memories.
The Berg river at De Drinken is wide and slow-flowing, making it perfect for swimming. A gumtree on the edge of the river has a rope attached to it, that serves as a swing, offering hours of fun for the daring among you.
There is no electricity at the campsite, so remember to charge your lights and bring spare batteries.
For the glampers there are a number of fully equipped tents or bush camps, offering a variety of accommodation options. For your glamping stay you just bring your food and swimming towels, the rest is all there.
The tents are located a short distance downstream from the campsite. The campsite and tents are very private.
The river is about 25 meters wide and is navigable by canoe for about 1km downstream, where there is a weir blocking further progress. Upstream you can go a little further (about 2km) and the river becomes narrow in places, creating a feeling of paddling through the Amazon jungle!
Bookings can be made directly by contacting the owner. The contact details and price list can be obtained from the website.
Check-in is very flexible and arranged directly with the owner. The sliding gate is operated from the office, so you need to phone the owners when you arrive at the gate. When you arrive you will receive a remote that will give you access while you are staying at De Drinken. Check-out is at 10h00, but the owners are relaxed about when you leave, especially on Sundays out of high season.
Important Additional Info For Your Stay
- There is no shop on site but you can order wood and ice.
- Bring your own grid.
- The water at the campsites is from the river and is not safe to drink so bring your own water.
- There is limited cell phone reception.
- Bring water floaties, fishing gear and canoe.
There are rustic ablution facilities, with the two showers being operated by an efficient donkey. So you need to plan your shower an hour before using it, if you want hot water.
You also need to bring your own toilet paper.
The ablutions at the tented camps are somewhat more sophisticated, having electricity and geysers so no need to fire up a donkey.
Activities At De Drinken
De Drinken is all about the river.
The Berg River is the second largest river in the Western Cape, originating from the Drakenstein mountain range close to Franschoek and meandering its way through the landscape for 294km before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Velddrif. It is famous for the Berg River Canoe Marathon, a tough race that covers 240km over 4 days during the winter months when the river flows at its strongest.
A canoe is a great way to explore the tranquillity of the river and provides access to hard-to-reach places where those tricky bass like to hang out.
Fishing is a major attraction at De Drinken; during the summer months, when the river flows slowly and food supply is scarce, the fish literally catch themselves! During the day you will catch a lot of carp, and in the evenings barbel can’t resist your bait. We caught a 6kg “river monster”, which was tricky to land because there is a fallen tree under the water which they like to dash into.
Bass fishing is also productive, with both large and small mouth bass in attendance.
Birding is great, with the usual Reed Warblers and Cape Weavers a regular sight. There are also regular sightings of kingfishers (malachite and giant) and we were fortunate to see a cardinal woodpecker working the trees for its grubby reward. Predatory birds include the yellow-billed kite, and whilst we didn’t see it, the call of the fish eagle is an unmistakable reminder that you are in Africa.
Around De Drinken
There are hiking trails available in both Moorreesburg & Koringberg which also forms part of the Swartland Bird Trail.
There is plenty opportunity for mountain biking at De Drinken and the surrounding farms.
For the wine enthusiasts there are a number of wine farms to visit and do wine tasting.
All the information on things to do and see around Moorreesburg is available on the Moorreesburg Tourism website.
We have been to De Drinken twice and thoroughly enjoy the privacy as well as the setting on the river with direct access.
It is an easy to reach destination with so much to do if you want to be active. If you prefer to do nothing or just read and rest, it is also perfect. You have unrestricted access to walking on the farm as well as joining the more formal hikes in the area.
Go prepared and enjoy the space, peace and sounds of nature.
Being on the river will bring the bugs so make sure you bring your bug repellent.
If you don’t have a canoe you can rent canoes for the weekend at very reasonable prices.
Will we be back? Most definitely!
Till our next adventure!