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Cape Overberg, Western Cape

The Cape Overberg, discovered early in South Africa’s history by pioneering farmers, who had to haul ox wagons over the Hottentot Mountains, is today a firm favourite with visitors. Luckily, the stunning Sir Lowry’s and Franschhoek Passes, allow for easy access over the mountains into this beautiful diverse Overberg region. The N2, headed for the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth by an incredible drive, divides the Overberg into two distinct but equally compelling areas.

Elgin Valley Region of the Overberg

The first region, mainly along the N2, incorporates the Hottentots Nature Reserve with excellent hikes and kloofing; the fertile Elgin Valley with its apple orchards, fruit trees and vineyards; the commercial centre of Grabouw; Bot River, with the famous Arabella Golf Course and Hotel; the rolling hills of wheat and canola around Caledon, the capital of the Overberg, with its casino and spa, best visited in September when the 214ha wild flower garden is a riot of blooms, and Swellendam, a charming historic town. Swellendam is close to the Bontebok National Park and the Marloth Nature Reserve, both worth a visit.

Overberg along the N2

The Elgin Valley is renowned for its apple farms in particular, and is home to “Appletiser”, the famous South African apple drink. More recently, this area has diversified into cool climate wines, leading to the establishment of many award-winning cellars and an interesting wine route. A day trip from Cape Town through the towns of Elgin, Grabouw, Botrivier, Franschoek and Stellenbosch, takes one over the scenic passes of the region, past the Theewaterskloof Dam, and through the beautiful Overberg landscape.

A small detour off the N2, from Caledon on the R406, will take you to historic Genadendal, a missionary village lost in time, and to Greyton village, one of the most popular weekend getaways in the Cape.

Genadendal and Greyton

To reach the coastal region of the Overberg, known as the Whale Coast, take the amazing Clarence Drive Route along the R44 from Gordon’s Bay. The coastal region stretches from Pringle Bay to Gansbaai, with its endless pristine white beaches, swimming, surfing and wealth of marine life.

The Whale Coast Region of the Overberg

The meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans is at Cape Agulhas, a popular tourist stop. The coastline here is excellent for fishing with many excellent spots, some even accessible by 4×4 trails. Kleinmond is a hot spot for the snoek run in June and for crayfish in the summer season. The Rooisand Nature Reserve at the Bot River Lagoon offers a wide range of water birds.

This area is home to the Kogelberg Biosphere, accessed from Betty’s Bay, a world heritage reserve, protecting over 1600 species of fynbos plants, with some excellent hikes in a pristine wilderness. Also close to Betty’s Bay are the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, the little Kirstenbosch, and the Stony Point Penguin Colony.

This coastal strip is whale territory. From June to December, the southern right whales come here to mate and calve. Hermanus boasts the best land based whale watching along its cliff path as well as the popular whale crier; De Kelders is also a firm favourite for land-based whale watching as well as kayaking close to the whales, whilst Gansbaai is famous for the Great White shark.

Hermanus is also home to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wine Route, a top wine-producing region with many award-winning vineyards.

It is easy to move between the N2 and the coast, as there are many connecting roads, some tar and some gravel, all offering beautiful scenery though vineyards and farmlands. In this area between the coast and mountains is Stanford, a beautiful historic town, ideal for a laid-back getaway, situated on the banks of the Klein River. Stanford’s surrounding valleys feature numerous vineyards, an award-winning cheese maker and a microbrewery. Stanford is also close to the pristine Salmonsdam Nature Reserve, with its beautiful waterfalls – ideal for hiking.

Close by are Wolwegat, where the famous South African artists, Wim and Tina de Roubaix have their gallery, and Baardskeerdersbos, which has a developing art route, which opens the homes of the local art community on selected weekends.

More info on the Western Cape area

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