Overberg Travel Guide

 

Description

In the early days of the European occupation of the Cape, very few people ventured far from the foot of Table Mountain. The vast Cape Flats to the east of the fledgling city were a treacherous stretch of shifting sands, wetlands and - of course - wild animals. And at the eastern extreme of that huge, sandy plain was a formidable mountain range, which is now - a couple of hundred years later - easily traversed by virtue of the scenic Sir Lowry's and Houwhoek Passes on the N2. But in those days, these mountains presented a serious barrier to movement and the land beyond them, which was visited only by the very adventurous and became known as the 'Overberg' - the land over the mountains.

The Overberg extends from the high-lying apple orchards of the area between the two passes in the west, to just past the lovely historical town of Swellendam in the east and - to the south - as far as you can go. Cape Agulhas is the most southerly point of the African continent and - officially - the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The interior is dominated by grain farms interspersed with cute country towns, and the coast is a series of beautiful bays, beaches, wetland and dramatic headlands. Walker Bay, which lies between the towns of Hermanus and Gansbaai, has two claims to fame.
It is reputed to be the best land-based whale watching in the world, as the huge southern right whales swim close in shore and there is a beautiful and convenient, fragrant, flower-rich cliff-top walk that offers an excellent vantage point to observe these, South Africa's biggest tourists.

They turn up here in late winter to escape the harsh Antarctic, give birth, nurse their calves and - while they're in a nice romantic honeymoon destination - work on the next crop of baby whales.
The second claim to fame is as the most southerly vineyards in Africa - and it's well worth doing a tasting. This is not just a gimmick.
The other big attraction of this area is the great white shark. Dyer and Geyser Islands, off the small fishing village of Gansbaai offer probably the best shark cage diving in the world. A number of boats operate in the area - chumming to attract the sharks' attention and vying with each other for the best position. Do it soon, as there is increasing resistance to a practice that many people consider to be morally indefensible, ecologically destructive and dangerous.

There's loads more to do. There are three great nature reserves. Kogelberg in the west, which is a major hotspot of botanical diversity, offers fantastic hiking and an exciting white water rafting day trip. De Hoop, in the east, has some small game, great easy mountain bike trails, an escorted, portaged hiking trail, fun snorkelling, wonderful beaches and some awesome land-based whale watching. Slightly further east, the Bontebok National Park was proclaimed to protect the last few remaining bontebok - a beautiful antelope that is found only in the Western Cape. The Breede River, in the eastern part of the Overberg, has some quite fun rafting and canoeing trips and the only remaining hand-operated ferry in the country and fantastic fishing.

There is great paragliding and fun canoeing and sea kayaking near Hermanus, a gliding club in Swellendam, a good horse trail, great hiking and some fabulous mountain biking trails. There are fun boat trips and a long and exciting foefie slide (flying fox) on the Buffelsjag Dam, near Swellendam.

For the more culturally inclined, the mission villages of Genadendal and, particularly, Elim, hark back to a much quieter era. Interesting museums include the Drostdy Museum in Swellendam, the Old Harbour Museum in Hermanus, which has exhibits relating to fishing and whaling, and the small but fascinating Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp. This area is, in fact, littered with historic wrecks. A noble tradition was born when the troopship Birkenhead went down near Gansbaai in 1852. For the first time in recorded history, the troops and sailors lined up on the deck in disciplined ranks while the women and children passengers got into the lifeboats and were ferried to shore. The men then took their chances with the icy water and the legions of sharks. Another historic wreck nearby was the Arniston, which gave its name to the town that has officially been called Waenhuiskrans - which means wagon house cave, and refers to an enormous sea cave big enough to house an ox wagon (although you'd struggle to get a bicycle to the spot, never mind an ox wagon). But everyone knows the place as Arniston - a great beach destination.

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Accommodation near Overberg

*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling distance.

Marina Cottage
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10%
from R750
1 night, 2 adults

Marina Cottage

Sleeps 2 Greyton Self-catering in Greyton

Located down a quiet street in the picturesque country town of Greyton, the Marina Cottage offers a ...

from R780
1 night, 2 adults

Cape Agulhas Guest House

Sleeps 18 Agulhas Bed and Breakfast in Agulhas

Located in the Town of L'Agulhas, which is at the most Southern tip of Africa.

This g...

from R600
1 night, 2 adults

Umoya

Sleeps 2 Bettys Bay Self-catering in Bettys Bay

Umoya offers comfortable accommodation in the quite seaside village of Betty’s Bay. The airy and spa...

from R600
1 night, 2 adults

Stanfordstay

Sleeps 16 Stanford Self-catering in Stanford

In the shade of the looming slopes of the Klein River Mountains, these historical country cottages h...

from R715
1 night, 2 adults

Blue Jays Bed and Breakfast

Sleeps 8 Pringle Bay Bed and Breakfast in Pringle Bay

Pringle Bay's favourite B&B welcomes you to one of the Western Cape Overberg's most beautiful locati...

from R560
1 night, 2 adults

Die Seemeeue

Sleeps 7 Vermont ZA Self-catering in Vermont ZA

Die Seemeeue was established in 1998 and is a cosy and homely accommodation, well known for its pano...

from R660
1 night, 2 adults

Marula Lodge

Sleeps 16 Swellendam Guest House in Swellendam

Marula Lodge is a modern-african styled Guesthouse with a friendly atmosphere, situated in Swellenda...

Brown Jug
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33%
from R700
1 night, 2 adults

Brown Jug

Sleeps 12 Eastcliff Guest House in Eastcliff

Abel, Louise and Luke, the friendly Labradors Keesha and Tula, and kitties It and Squeek look forwar...

from R500
1 night, 2 adults

Gumtree Cottage

Sleeps 6 Napier Self-catering in Napier

Gumtree Cottage is a quaint, cosy self-catering cottage tucked away on a large 2,200 square metre pl...

from R650
1 night, 2 adults

Forget-me-not

Sleeps 4 Kleinmond Self-catering in Kleinmond

This double storey home offers you the ideal base from which to explore the little seaside town of K...