Things To Do in MalgasMalgas Pontoon Ferry
Where? Malgas, Cape Overberg, Western Cape
When? Daily from sunrise to sunset.
How much? Falls into price group R1 to R100 per person. Confirm with the provider.
Do not expect anything romantic from the pontoon ferry that gets you, and your car, to Malgas. It is not a ferry in the traditional sense. Instead the pont is rather like a floating wooden barge onto which you and your car pull before it is hand-drawn across the Breede River.
The Malgas Pont, as it is known is famous as the only hand-drawn pont, and the last of its kind, in South Africa.
We are not short of pontoons. There are another two – one at Sendelingsdrift on the Orange River in the Richtersveld, and the other at the Kei River mouth on the Wild Coast. However, neither of these is hand-drawn.
The Malgas Pont ferries you to and from the little bankside village of Malgas in the Overberg. Malgas lies here because it used to serve as a trading port – you can navigate the Breede River some 50 km inland from its mouth, at Witsand and Infanta (on opposite sides of the mouth) to Malgas.
Back then it was faster to send goods from Cape Town by ship than ox wagon, which means the Breede River played a very important role in distributing goods to the farms of the Overberg. A steamer, called the Kadie, sailed from Cape Town right up the Breede River as far as Malgas, which acted as a port for the area.
The pontoon remains because once Malgas lost its importance as a port it was not deemed important enough to warrant the building of a bridge.
The pont works with a standing cable (a pulley system) along which the ferry is 'walked' across the river. It is run by three or four local men, who haul as many as three cars 120 metres across the water at a time.
The pont is the only way across the Breede, by car, on the back roads between the N2 and Cape Infanta. To reach Malgas (sometimes referred to as Malgasy), take the turn-off from the N2 shortly after Swellendam and follow signposts.