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Overberg / Whale Coast

Overberg / Whale Coast

Just over the mountains and approximately one hour east of Cape Town, lies the Cape's most jealously guarded secret... The Overberg, sometimes referred to as the Whale Coast.

The Overberg ("the other side of the mountain") was the original name given by Dutch colonists in the Cape when referring to the land that lay east across the Hottentots Holland mountain range.

The region is an all year round destination, excellent for beach holidays. It is a playground of the earth and sea, a nursery of the Southern Right whales and a garden of delight, from its rare floral tapestry, to the fields of grain and orchard of fruit.

For beach holidays and to enjoy the sun of South Africa at its best December - February is the time to visit. The busiest time, however, is December which is the traditional holiday period for South Africans. A quiet period is March - May, when the weather is moderate and the area is fairly quiet. For the best land-based whale watching in the world and the floral spectacular at its best June - November is ideal, and especially August and September.

The Overberg enjoys a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The height of summer is in January with average temperatures 15C. The middle of winter is June with average temperatures from 5C to 22C.

Best land-based whale watching sites world-wide

The coming of the whales to the Overberg creates a stir along the coast when reports of sightings draws crowds who gather to watch the greatest mammal show on earth. The Overberg coast forms part of the MTN Cape Whale Route. There are three types of whales likely to be seen, The Southern Right whale, Humpback and Bryde's are the three types of whale likely to be seen.

The whales may be viewed along the Overberg coast and especially good vantage points are along Hermanus' Walker Bay and at Koppie Alleen in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the world's most important calving and mating grounds.

In Hermanus a 12km stretch of cliff path provides one of the best land-based spots for whale watching world-wide.

A wealth of indigenous plants and animals

The diversity of the Overberg's natural environment is accompanied by an unsurpassed wealth of indigenous plants and animals.

The Overberg is the heart of the famous Cape Floristic Region and although it is the smallest plant kingdom in the world, it has an amazing 8500 species.

Some of the finest colonies of fynbos in the country are found in the Overberg. Fynbos (fine bushes) is the popular name given for the vegetation of the shrub lands of the Western Cape's winter rainfall area. Although fynbos is at it's most spectacular during late winter and spring, the region offers flowers to be enjoyed throughout the year. A similar variety of animal species includes many mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial invertebrates and fish.

Food and Wine

Visitors to the Overberg can expect to find a superb coastal area of fine beaches and quaint villages in beautiful mountain settings. Every town and many of the farms have well preserved historical features, often still in use as part of their everyday life. Those interested in arts and crafts will find a vibrant mixture of indigenous crafts and modern art works to choose from including unique crafts such as decorative works on wagons and dried fynbos arrangements. There is also a variety of art galleries, exhibition venues, pottery clubs and art groups.

The Overberg has developed it's own style cuisine and is renowned for its excellent seafood and traditional 'beorekos' dishes. It's wine estates, many with cellars open to visitors for wine tasting, produce award winners listed on the SAA wine list and are exported to Europe. Wines range from crisp dry whites to full-bodied reds.

The Outdoors

Outdoor lovers have a wide variety of activities to choose from. Bontebok National Park, De Hoop Marine Reserve, and the Fernkloof Nature Reserve are just a few of the nature reserves well worth visiting and walks and hiking trails are available including horse trails, mountain bike trails and 4x4 trails. For the more daring, great white sharks can be viewed in their environment whilst in the safety of an underwater cage. For the not-quite-so-daring, there's always angling, swimming, sailing and then there's golf...

The Overberg and Whale Coast regions of South Africa offer a stunning blend of natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and cultural experiences.

Here are ten things to do and see in this picturesque area:

1. Whale Watching: Experience the awe-inspiring sight of Southern Right Whales breaching and playing in the waters off the coast. Hermanus, in particular, is renowned as one of the best land-based whale watching destinations globally, especially during the whale season from June to November.

2. Cape Agulhas: Visit the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Take in the dramatic coastal scenery and explore the historic lighthouse and surrounding nature reserves.

3. Wine Tasting: Discover the acclaimed wine estates of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Walker Bay wine regions. Sample award-winning cool-climate wines, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while enjoying panoramic views of vineyards and mountains.

4. Nature Reserves: Explore the diverse ecosystems of nature reserves like De Hoop Nature Reserve and Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Hike along scenic trails, spot indigenous flora and fauna, and enjoy birdwatching and mountain biking.

5. Garden and Flower Tours: During spring (August to October), embark on guided tours to witness the vibrant wildflowers of the Overberg and discover the region's rich floral biodiversity.

6. Adventure Activities: For adrenaline seekers, engage in thrilling outdoor adventures such as shark cage diving in Gansbaai, zip-lining in Hermanus, or quad biking through the scenic landscapes of the Overberg.

7. Historic Towns: Explore charming towns like Swellendam, Stanford, and Greyton, each with its own unique heritage, architecture, and cultural attractions. Visit museums, art galleries, and local markets to immerse yourself in the region's history and artistic community.

8. Beach Escapes: Relax on pristine beaches along the Whale Coast, including Grotto Beach in Hermanus, Pearly Beach, and Arniston's Waenhuiskrans Beach. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing amidst breathtaking coastal scenery.

9. Culinary Experiences: Indulge in farm-to-table dining experiences at local restaurants, farm stalls, and food markets. Sample fresh seafood, artisanal cheeses, and regional specialties paired with fine wines from nearby vineyards.

10. Cultural Events: Attend vibrant festivals and cultural events celebrating the arts, music, food, and traditions of the Overberg and Whale Coast communities. From seafood festivals to music concerts and art exhibitions, there's always something happening in this dynamic region.

Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures, wildlife encounters, cultural experiences, or simply relaxation amidst stunning landscapes, the Overberg and Whale Coast regions of South Africa offer a diverse array of attractions and activities to delight every traveler.

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Overberg / Whale Coast Accommodation and Information. Overberg / Whale Coast, Western Cape.
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