The Berg River is a river located just north of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is approximately 294 km (183 mi) long with a catchment area of 7,715 km² (2979 mi²) and outlets into the Atlantic Ocean. About 65% of the Berg River area is under agriculture. The major towns in the Berg River area are Velddrif and Laaiplek near the coast, Piketberg, Hopefield, Mooreesburg and Darling further inland, and Wellington and Paarl in the upper catchment. The lead source of the Berg River is south of Franschhoek in the Drakenstein Mountains.
The first known European record of the Berg River was made by bailiff Abraham Gabbema in 1657 when Dutch Governor Jan van Riebeeck sent him to trade with the Khoekhoe for meat for the settlement at the Cape. Gabbema named the river the ‘Groot Berg Rivier’. In years to follow many of van Riebeeck’s men relied on the river waters and followed its winding course as they ventured northwards. Despite Gabbema’s visit, the Berg Catchment was not developed until Governor Simon van der Stel’s time (1679–1699), prior to which settlement was limited to the Peninsula. Governor van der Stel visited the area with the first free burghers, and prompted by the Berg River’s fertility and beauty, he established the first European settlements at Paarl and the Drakenstein valley in 1687. Wellington, Franschhoek and Tulbagh were established shortly after this as the farmlands expanded.