Springtime in the Overberg is a time for celebration. The sun is out, the orchards are in bloom and the feeling of excitement is almost tangible. This little slice of heaven in the Western Cape is often underrated, making way for more renowned regions like the West Coast or Atlantic Seaboard.
However, a trip to the Overberg during Spring should be on every adventure-seeker’s list. There is plenty to do, and the gorgeous surroundings only emphasis the warm and welcome beauty of the season.
The Overberg comprises of several small towns, including the likes of Elgin, Bonnievale, Botrivier, and more well-known towns such as Hermanus, Stanford and Gansbaai. Each of these towns has its own unique personality – with each town offering a bevy of delights for travelers to indulge in.
While there are dozens of activities and adventures one can take part in in this region, we’ve put together some of our favourite activities for Springtime – so next time you find yourself on the other side of Sir Lowry’s Pass, make sure you take a turn at these exciting and enticing places.
A new edition to the beautiful, charming little town of Elgin, the Elgin Railway Market is housed in an old, converted apple warehouse. Elgin, being the home of apples in the Grabouw area, is a beautiful town all on its own, and the edition of the market has further made this a must-stop destination.
The market is decorated and presented with a steampunk feel, beautifully complimented by the rusticness of the converted warehouse.
Local vendors sell delicious artisan food and drink, as well as beautiful arts and crafts. Think sweet and savoury treats, wine bars, craft beers and an artisanal gin bar – there is bound to be something for every palette at the market.
Beautiful jewellery and hand-made artworks steal centre stage when it comes to the retail offering.
On some nights, the market has live music performances, which adds to the already hearty and welcome atmosphere of the market.
Adding to the steampunk aesthetic, the market has a partnership with the Ceres Rail Company, which sees a steam train make its way to the market a few times a month. Booking for this is strongly advised!
The market is also home to an in-house coffee shop which is open 7 days a week from 8 am – 5 pm.
Full market: Saturdays and Sundays, 9 am – 5 pm.
Wednesdays: Limited selection of food, bar open, 4 pm – 9 pm.
Fridays: Limited selection of food, bar open, 5 pm – 9 pm.
A stalwart in the Elgin/Grabouw region, Peregrine is known by many as making the best pies in the Western Cape.
Established in 1964, this humble farm stall has exploded over the last decade and is a must-stop pitstop for people traveling through the Overberg. While the best thing about Peregrine is undoubtedly the freshly baked pies (several batches are pulled straight from the oven on the daily!), there are also other things that make this worth the stop.
The farm stall sells fresh farm produce from local farmers in the area, so you can expect to pick up a box of fresh figs, veggies, and cheese (they even have vegan cheese!).
In addition to their in-house bakery, Peregrine also has its own café which is amazing for brunch, and an on-site Origin coffee stand.
Whether you stop just for a pie or a sit-down meal, Peregrine is an absolute must.
Farmstall: Monday – Sunday, from 07:30 am – 6 pm.
Café: Monday – Sunday, from 07:30 am – 5 pm (kitchen closes at 4:15 pm, with last orders at 4 pm).
The African Penguin sanctuary in Betty’s Bay has been in operation for decades. A wonderful place to see these beautiful birds up close and in their natural habitat, the sanctuary is one of the largest successful breeding colonies of the African Penguin in the world.
The colony calls the Stony Point Nature Reserve their home, and visitors to the nature reserve can walk along the boardwalk and watch and observe these tuxedoed birds.
Operating hours: 8 am – 4:30 pm, Monday – Sunday (last permits are issued at 4 pm, gates close at 4.30 pm).
Cost: R25 for adults, R15 for children.
Just outside of Hermanus town centre and a little to your left along the winding mountain paths, lies the jawdroppingly beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
This stunning valley is home to some of the Western Cape’s most celebrated wine estates, and the perfect place for an afternoon spent hopping between wine farms.
Some of the most renowned wine estates in the area include Creation Wines – famous for their hearty, earthy single-vineyard wines – as well as Domaine Des Deux, where you can sip on delightful bubbles, Bouchard Finlayson, a boutique winery with an exceptional selection of fine wines, and Newton Johnson – famed for their exquisite Pinot Noir.
Wine farms are generally open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, and 10 am to 1 pm on weekends. However, each wine estate’s tasting room differs, so its best to find out exactly what the opening times are on the day you plan on popping by.
Perhaps the most famous whale watching destination in the country (if not the world), Hermanus is synonymous with whales, come the Springtime.
The Southern Right whales usually make their way to the warmer waters of Walker Bay towards the end of Winter, start of Spring in July, August or September. Some years they’ve been spotted as early as June!
Hermanus offers various options when it comes to whale watching; as one of the best land-based whale watching spots in the world, you can simply walk along the promenade at Gearing’s Point and witness the whales at play in the bay. For a more up close and personal experience, you can book your spot on one of the many boat excursions, where you can get as close as 30 meters from these mammoth mammals.
The town’s famous whale crier is also a charming addition to the town and will let visitors know when the whales are at play.
Gansbaai, just a 45-minute drive from Hermanus, is without a doubt the shark cage diving capital of the world. Great White Sharks are fond of the waters in Gansbaai, and thus the small fishing village has become a hotspot for adventurers looking for the thrill of a lifetime.
Not for the faint-hearted, shark cage diving will most certainly give you an adrenaline rush that you won’t forget.
There are several operators in Gansbaai that offer shark cage diving, and it’s safe to say that all of the valid operators in the area are licensed, trained and highly skilled in what they do. It;s just up to you to decide if you want to be that close to a Great White Shark!
There are several operators in the area, you will need to find one that suits your needs (and your pockets) and book in advance.
You can go shark cage diving throughout the year in Gansbaai, however, the water is said to be the clearest in the wintertime, between March and September.
The cost is generally between R1800 – R3000 per person.