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Overberg

The Western Cape Overberg is easy on the senses and pleasing to the eye. Its landscape is a tapestry of colours and meandering patterns, both natural and manmade. To the north lie the ridges of the Riviersonderend and Langeberg Mountains and in the south the Indian and Atlantic Oceans break onto white sandy beaches and rocky headlands.

The region forms a relatively small part of the Western Cape. It is mostly rural, and is blessed with stunning scenery and unique highlights. Its largest town, Hermanus, is said to provide the best land-based whale watching in the country. It also has exquisite beaches, including the blue flag Grotto Beach, and the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley epitomises the majestic beauty of the mountainous backdrop of the region.

Across Walker Bay, the town of Gansbaai is best known for shark cage diving for great whites near Dyer Island. L’Agulhas stands at the southernmost point on the African continent, and is the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

The Overberg fauna and flora is protected in the Bontebok National Park, and its nature reserves include De Hoop, De Mond, Salmons Dam, Marloth, and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Staying with wildlife, the penguin colony at Stony Point in of Betty’s Bay also a tourist favourite. Swellendam and the small mission town of Genadendal are amongst the Overberg’s historic icons. Others that are popular with visitors are Greyton, Stanford, and Napier.

In summer the farmlands are dominated by shimmering shades of brown, the fields stripped of their winter crops and the bare earth ploughed into meandering combed patterns dotted with tightly compressed wheels of straw awaiting collection.

Labourers’ cottages hunker down beneath old blue gums and on a cold day smoke drifts from their chimneys.

Throughout the year the early morning and late afternoon sun accentuates the sensual curves of the ridges wreathed in fynbos. When the winter rains return, the undulating, sometimes tiered fields shrug off their brown and slip into the vibrant greens of wheat, barley, and oats, and the brilliant yellow of the iconic canola. On still, sultry mornings, blue cranes, South Africa’s national bird, float overhead craaaaaaking as they go.

The coastline is punctuated by long sweeping bays and rocky outcrops that fringe the southern boundary of this landscape. Here one can spend hours sitting on the white sand, being mesmerised by the eternal activity of the sea. Add to this a scattering of charming inland villages; locally produced beer, cheese, and wine; lighthouses, bird watching, and wonderful food, and it becomes evident why one needs plenty of time here.

Best time to visit