By Tamara Toti
It’s that time of the year when many flock to the Overberg region for whale watching season and to escape city life. Nestled just over the mountains in Southern Cape, the Overberg will take your breath away with its natural wonders and quaint towns. Whether you’re planning a family holiday, romantic getaway or solocation this region is the perfect holiday destination.
Hermanus and its neighbouring villages were recently included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The municipal area of the Overstrand has been named a Creative City of Gastronomy – the third South African destination after Cape Town and Durban to achieve this recognition – taking its place alongside international cities of Gastronomy like Parma – Italy, San Antonio – USA, Phuket – Thailand and Bergen – Norway.The ocean drive from Rooiels to Kleinmond and onward to Hermanus, Stanford and Gansbaai has been turned into a “culinary coastline”, with many small producers, farmers, wineries, breweries, farm stalls and eateries.
Kick off your trip with a visit to the Kogelberg Nature Reserve in the heart of the beautiful Cape Nature Reserve. This reserve offers visitors exceptional diversity and an unmatched beauty. There are also many old-fashioned cafè’s along the way – Peregrine Farm Stall is a popular lunch spot – make a stop and enjoy homemade meals, a firm favourite is definitely their homemade pies!
Driving into the heart of the whale coast, you’ll be taken aback by its exquisite mountain backdrop and old town charm. Popular for its whale watching hot spots, culture, history and natural beauty, each year hundreds visit the area to see the majestic Southern Right Whale. Typically, these beauties visit from June to December but sometimes stay until late January.
During this season the town comes alive with specially planned whale watching tours and the Annual Whale Festival in September. You can also choose to experience the beauty of the town by exploring its walking and hiking trails, visit museums to learn about the town’s history or relax at Hermanus’ pristine beaches and treat yourself to a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants.
A beautiful riverside village, Stanford is identified by its well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian styled houses. A treasure trove of antique shops, with famous restaurants and quaint coffee shops that will impress your taste buds, or take the pleasure of sipping on world-class wine at one of the award-winning vineyards.
This tranquil destination has some of the finest bird watching spots with over 200 bird species. If you are looking for more adventurous activities, take to the Klein River for some kayaking or book a cruise up the river on the African Queen. For travellers seeking a fun outing for the whole family, pay a visit to the Klein River Cheese Farm. Another must see whilst in Stanford, is the Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, an educational centre for big cats.
Located at the most southern tip
of Africa, and where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, the coastal town of L’Agulhas or Cape Agulhas as it’s commonly known, is only an hour drive from Stanford and two
and half hours from Cape Town. The rocky land of Cape Agulhas is one of the most peaceful towns in the region, that is not to say you won’t be kept busy. The area has been proclaimed a National Park and is home to a diverse marine life. You’ll find the famous red and white lighthouse, which you can visit to experience incredible views of the town from the top. Take a dip at the lagoon, go for a hike or mountain biking on one of the picturesque trails. Foodies, visit the Black Oyster Catcher Winery for a culinary experience and visit Meisho Maru shipwreck to hear stories of the old boating days.
Nestled among unspoilt dunes, flanked by white beaches and surrounded by fishermen’s thatch cottages, lies Arniston, a small seaside village. This explorer’s paradise is among the most popular whale watching hotspots. This national monument is perfect for nature lovers and bird watchers alike.
Also, visit De Hoop Marine Nature Reserve or go snorkelling. Spend some time sand boarding over the dunes or rejuvenate your spirit by taking a walk and enjoy the picturesque fisherman cottages of Kassiesbaai. Fishermen in the area still go fishing for the catch of the day – prepare to get the freshest dishes in the town’s restaurants.
Hidden away in the Langeberg Mountains and surrounded by the Breede river, Swellendam, the third oldest town in the Western Cape, brings together the seven towns in the greater Swellendam area. This area’s unique character tells historical stories of the trade routes with a farming community that has something for each traveller.
A visit to the area can include day tours to Proteas, Whales or take time out for a rain forest massage. For the outdoorsy traveller, enjoy hiking or mountain biking excursions. Treat yourself to a wine tasting tour and enjoy the locally made Wildebraam Berry Liquer.
The Overberg region is an A-lister South African destination, perfect if you’re looking for a place of adventure, serenity and natural beauty. surrounded by fishermen’s thatch cottages, lies Arniston, a small seaside village. This explorer’s paradise is among the most popular whale watching hotspots. This national monument is perfect for nature lovers and bird watchers alike.