Eyewitness South Africa. Phil Steyn from Porterville

Porterville, the small town in the Western Cape province of South Africa lies 150 kilometres north-east of Cape Town, 55 kilometres to the south of Citrusdal, 45 kilometres north-west of Tulbagh and 25 kilometres south-east of Piketberg. Near Porterville, there is the mountainous Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Conservation area, as a part of the Cape Floral Region it is a protected UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. The area full of mountain fynbos and bizarre rock formations is a paradise for everybody who wants to look at ancient rock paintings by the San and Khoi people and everybody who loves hiking, climbing, swimming and kloofing.  

Phil Steyn is the Blogger behind the Porterville Tourist, he wants everybody to learn how very beautiful is hometown is, and he found the time to tell us about it.

The Touristin: Three words that characterise Porterville?

Phil Steyn: It’s hard to decide if this question is daunting because I have a tendency to talk a lot, or because I just have so much to say about how awesome Porterville is to squash it into three words. If pressed for a three-word sentence that describes its character, I would say “Small town charm”. This best describes Porterville. It really is the perfect blend of little, rural town, but combined with great ideas and new innovations that are making it very appealing to visitors. This is further boosted by some unique characters that live here and a countryside that is Instagram heaven!

The Touristin: How do you get around Porterville?

Phil Steyn: We are 1.5 hours’ drive from Cape Town if you leave outside of rush hour. Let’s be honest, if you do anything in Cape Town between 6 and 9am or 3 and 6pm it’s going to take you an hour minimum just to walk across the road. Once you get to Porterville though, things change remarkably. You can walk anywhere in the small town in ten minutes and there simply is no traffic. Yes,… no traffic! I cycle around to everything and only get in a car if I am going up the mountain or doing something out of town on a farm.

The Touristin: What is the best kept secret about Porterville?

Phil Steyn: At the moment, Porterville is its own best-kept secret. We are slowly getting word out about this novel little town that is the perfect weekend getaway from Cape Town. By starting our local blog called Porterville Tourist we are hoping to tell the world all about it. It does have a few secrets that are more amazing than most. Firstly, Porterville is known to the international community, as an incredible paragliding hot spot, and the best spot in South Africa to soar into the skies. Secondly, there are a large number of talented artists living in this small town who are happy to let you visit their studios and see their works.

The Touristin: What is your favourite borough/suburb/area in Porterville and why?

Phil Steyn: Porterville is basically just one suburb, but there are parts of it that are even more stunning than the rest. Early morning or late afternoon, when it is cool outside, you’ll find everyone starts becoming more active and enjoying the outdoors. My personal favourite spots are those walk/ run/ mountain bike trails that you can get some exercise on that offer spectacular views across the small town. Through olive orchards, vineyards, wheat fields, rows of citrus or canola fields you are recharged when spending some time wandering around these beautiful parts of Porterville.

The Touristin: The best place for a hot chocolate or coffee in Porterville?

Phil Steyn: We are so lucky to have recently opened our very own Porterville Farmer’s Market that is open every Saturday from 9am to 3pm. Besides all the lovely local products, farm fresh essentials and organic goodies, they also do a stunning breakfast and great coffee.

The Touristin: What is one restaurant we must try out while in Porterville?

Phil Steyn: For the best food in town, keep an eye on TheStable Guesthouse who has a private venue where they do three course Long Table dinners. It happens two to three Saturdays a month and sells out fast. Locals and visitors to Porterville enjoy great food around a long table with lots of laughs, wine, music and a lovely ambience. Another awesome option is The Flyer’s Lodge that has the most spectacular sunsets, a cash bar and a set menu that you can book in advance to enjoy some great red meats cooked on an open fire.

The Touristin: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Phil Steyn: We are now very lucky to have two great weekend options! Saturdays are spent at Porterville Farmer’s Market where locals mingle with visitors and spend a great community filled day together in the fresh air. On Sundays we head out of town (20km) to our local craft brewery, Indie Ale for live music, sun on the lawn, and nice thin crust pizza.

The Touristin: Do you have a favorite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in Porterville?

Phil Steyn: We are so fortunate to have many local artists. Ceramicists, painters and even a goldsmith, who all have studios and are more than happy to let you see their work if arranged prior. The very unusual “Die Mosaiek Huis” is becoming well known. It is owned by Christell Griffiths and features a whole house AND massive gardens that are completely mosaicked in small tiles. It’s marvellous!

The Touristin: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes in Porterville?

Phil Steyn: When it comes to good food, the Saturday Porterville Farmer’s Market dominates with great and very fresh food at awesome prices. As far as clothes go, we have a small PEP and Foschini store but all the locals know to go to our local seamstress who fixes, mends and makes things quickly and cheaply.

The Touristin: What souvenir shall we bring back from Porterville?

Phil Steyn: Hopefully when you leave Porterville you will have collected one or more of at least four things….

A glowing tan
Some beautiful art
A carton of craft beer
A new friendship made with one of us friendly locals…

The Touristin: Thanks Phil, let’s chat soon. Good luck with your blog and I hope to meet you in Porterville.

Meet Phil on Instagram and Twitter and visit his blog Porterville Tourist.