Piketberg, formerly known as Piquetberg, is a small town part of the Swartland district stretching from Malmesbury, over Riebeeck Valley, to Piketberg. ‘Piquet’ stems from the French word meaning military post and is said to have come about from the Dutch-Khoikhoi clash in 1673.
The town is about 50 km from the Cape’s West Coast and lies at the foot of the Piketberg Mountain. It is a short hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, ideal for a weekend breakaway.
The history of the town dates back to 1836 when Sir Benjamin D’Urban gave the Grotefontein Farm to the church council. The museum is a great place to learn about the town’s history with interesting articles, archives and an exhibition telling the story of the growth of Piketberg and its involvement in the Anglo Boer War. One of the few canons during this war was placed on top of the mountain to warn the farmers and community.
The Dutch Reformed Church is a focal point in the town and many ‘out-of-towner’ weddings are held here. The church was designed by Carl Otto Hager with neo-Gothic white steeples. The church is well worth a quick stop-and-look.
Piketberg extends to the top of the Piketberg Mountain, or Piket-Bo-Berg, with its landscape of farms, flowers and fascinating rock formations. Take a trip up Versveld Pass to experience the overwhelming scent of flowers during spring and summer.
The Piketberg mountain hosts activities such as horse riding, hiking and mountain biking. Horse riding excursions can be arranged with the farm Excelsior, ranging from two hours to eight days. These trips can lead all the way down to the West Coast. Hikes are found on the farms Excelsior and Pheasant’s Nest. The eager hiker can try hiking trails starting at 3 km. These lead through indigenous fynbos, rock formations and sometimes the odd cave. A mountain biking trail of 8 km through field flowers is located on Pheasant’s Nest Farm.
The Piket-Bo-Berg MTB Challenge is held yearly in Piketberg and courses of 50 km, 21 km and 9 km can be entered from www.pedalpower.org.za.
Piketberg has an annual Agricultural and Flower Show towards the end of August which is one of the main events of the town.
After an active day outdoors, take this Swartland ‘dorpie’ by the horns and make a turn by the Nederberg Hotel Bar for a chat with some of the locals.