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Just over the mountain, 45 minutes drive from Cape Town, lies the Overberg, a region rich in beauty and diversity. It is the nursery of the great southern right whale, the headquarters of the apple-growing industry, and its rolling golden fields of grain are framed by magnificent mountain ranges. The beaches are superb and there is a great variety of fynbos and wild flowers. The coastal village of Hermanus is the perfect seaside 'getaway'.

I n f o r m a t i o n :
Cape Town Tourism {+27 (0) 21 - 4264260} at the The Pinnacle, Corner Castle & Burg Streets, Cape Town. Western Cape Tourism Board {+27 (0) 21 - 4265639/47} at the The Pinnacle, Corner Castle & Burg Streets, Cape Town.

Overberg simply means 'over the mountain'. Over the pass is the Steenbras Dam Reserve.

Once over the pass, the road descends into the valley of Elgin and Grabouw, one of the main apple-growing regions in the country. Further along the N2 is Houw Hoek Pass where Houw Hoek Inn (1834), the oldest inn in South Africa, is situated.

Villiersdorp was founded in 1843 and is known as the sleeping beauty of the Overberg. Theewaterskloof Dam is a watersport paradise. Nearby is the Amandelhoutvlakte Bird Sanctuary.

The town of Caledon, the capital of the Overberg, is famous for its Wild Flower Show in September and its hot mineral springs. Caledon has a stunning Flower Garden which forms part of the 214ha. nature reserve granted to the town by Queen Victoria in 1899.

The first Moravian mission (1737) station in South Africa is in Genadendal - the mission museum reflects the crafts practiced in the valley for more than 250 years. Further on, the small picturesque village of Greyton is a popular destination for quiet weekends away from Cape Town.

Continue down the N2, via Riviersonderend, to the charming colonial town of Swellendam which lies at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains. Visit the Drostdy Museum (1747), the Dutch Reform Church, the Oefeningshuis (1838), the Old Boys School (1825), the Rheenendal Mill (on the Ashton Road), and the Suurbraak - now used by local bodgers to produce hand-crafted Zuurbraak chairs.

The Marloth Nature Reserve is known for its beautiful scenery and the Swellendam Hiking Trail which lies within the reserve. The Bontebok National Park is 7 km from the town and visitors will find bontebok, hartebeest, steenbok and mountain zebra within its boundaries.

From Swellendam, take the R324 to Witsand, a small angling and water-sport resort at the mouth of the Breede River.

Take the dirt road to Malgas, where you will be transported across the river by the only manually operated pont in South Africa. The de Hoop Nature Reserve is on the Malgas - Bredasdorp road near Wydgeleë. This is a favourite calving area for whales, however, they may only be observed beyond the breakers.

Continue west to Bredasdorp, where you will find the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum - it will shed light on many wrecks in the vicinity.

is a delightful fishing village two centuries old. The fish market is a must for any visitor wishing to sample the sea's bounty.

The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Museum, past Struisbaai, is at the southernmost tip of Africa, This is the second oldest lighthouse (1848) in the country. There is a tea-room where refreshments may be obtained.

Take the road from Struisbaai to Elim, an old mission station (1824). The entire village has been declared a National Monument.

Follow the road to Napier (visit the Kakebeenwa Monument, the Dutch Reform Church and the Feeshuis 150) and thereafter the R316 and turn off to Stanford.

The Salmonsdam Nature Reserve has three hiking trails and is a must for bird watchers. Stanford is situated on the Kleinrivier, and is popular among canoeists and boating enthusiasts.

Continue on to Hermanus (click here for map of Hermanus) and Walker Bay, a nursery of the great Southern right whale. Hermanus is favoured by Capetonians as their weekend getaway, as well as by vacationers and retired persons.

Visit the old harbour which served the fishing industry for over a century, and is now a museum and national monument. The new harbour, at Westcliff, houses the new fishing boats, and charter trips for deep sea fishing may be arranged.

The Fernkloof Nature Reserve, north of Hermanus, has 25 km of fynbos hillside. The many tidal pools in Hermanus are superbly safe for swimming. Langbaai, Voëlklip and Grotto beaches are all recommended.

Take a trip to Gansbaai (Goose Bay) where fresh fish are sold in the harbour.

Whale Viewing

Hermanus offers the best whale viewing from land in the world. A cliff path stretching from one side of the town to the other, hugs the coastline for about 12 km giving whale watchers unlimited opportunities to study the gentle giants in the coves below.

Take the R43 back towards Kleinmond where the mouth of the Palmiet River is ideal for swimming. Further down the road, one finds Betty's Bay and the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden. This beautiful, secluded garden is set between mountain and sea, in the heart of the Cape fynbos region and encompasses 5 hectares of cultivated fynbos garden and 195 hectares of pristine natural fynbos. The Garden is open 365 days a year from 08h00 - 17h00 and a nominal entrance fee is charged. The garden has a restaurant and indigenous plant nursery.

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