Overberg, Western Cape
Did you know?
South Africa's oldest mission station, in Genadendal, was established in 1738.
The Overberg region of the Western Cape is most famous for its whale watching and varied scenery. Rolling hills, orchards, fynbos, sparkling canola fields and a rugged coastline with several sandy beaches all add to the area's aesthetic appeal.
Geographically, the Overberg is south of the Cape Winelands and south-west of the Klein Karoo. It is a wheat-growing area and there are few more beautiful sights than the first green flush of the new growth on the hills which are also home to the largest population of South Africa's national bird, the blue crane.
Cape Agulhas, a three-hour drive from Cape Town, is the most southerly tip of the African continent. It is also where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. There is a cairn on the shoreline, where visitors can stand with one foot on the Indian Ocean side and the other on the Atlantic side - an interesting photo opportunity.
Bathers are advised to stick to the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean, on the eastern shores of Overberg rather than brave the cold Atlantic Ocean. The town of Struisbaai boasts a long stretch of white, sandy beach; it's also a good bet for delicious fresh fish.
The Overberg coast is also known as the Whale Coast. Each year, from about June to November, southern right whales migrate to South Africa's waters to calve and nurse their young. Humpback whales also frequent the coastline and are generally spotted between May and December.
Towns like Hermanus have become famous for their whale watching viewpoints from the shoreline and from boats. Photographers who visit the area spend hours waiting for that perfect shot of a breaching whale.
Wine connoisseurs can explore the Elgin Wine Route, Hermanus Wine Route and the various estates in the Bot River area.
History-lovers should visit Swellendam, the third-oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town and Stellenbosch. The town, which lies at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, is home to more than 50 national monuments, many of them in the traditional Cape Dutch architectural style.
Nature reserves in the region include the De Hoop Nature Reserve, Agulhas National Park, Fernkloof Nature Reserve and Marloth Nature Reserve.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cape Overberg Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)28 425 1157
How to get here
Hire a car from Cape Town International Airport and drive along the N2 via Sir Lowry's Pass. If you aren't in a rush, take the more scenic R44, which passes through coastal towns such as Gordon's Bay.
Best time to visit
The best months for whale watching are from June until October; the best weather occurs during the summer months, from November until May.
Around the area
The Overberg is the gateway to the Garden Route so factor it into your planning.
Tours to do
If you've always wanted to see a great white shark, then Gansbaai is the place to book a trip.
Length of stay
You can easily spend a few days exploring the region which has so much to offer.
Where to stay
Stay on a farm or one of the coastal towns.
What to eat
There are numerous excellent restaurants and wineries in this area. For a good country meal, try Moggs Country Cookhouse in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley on route to Hermanus where you will served a meal whipped up from ingredients grown on the farm.
The Hermanus Whale Festival takes place in September every year.
Stock up on wine, visit a craft market, look for home-baked goods.