A colourful kaleidoscope of vistas, valleys, mountains, seaside, winding roads and more, the Cape Overberg is indeed a special part of the Western Cape. Stretching from the Hottentots-Holland Mountains in the west to Swellendam in the east, and as far as the Riviersonderend Mountains in the north and Cape Agulhas to the south, it’s one gorgeous little town after the next, each one with its own unique Overberg flavour. Easily the best way to appreciate fully all this region has to offer is by road – and that’s why we’ve put together an eclectic list of some of the stand-out spots for your next Overberg road-trip.
Elgin Railway Market
First up is the Elgin Railway Market, a real must especially if you’re a foodie. The old apple warehouse has been converted into a bustling indoor steampunk market, a space where art deco meets Victorian and where some of the finest food vendors can be found. Expect everything from fragrant curries, to juicy burgers, tasty Mexican dishes, delicious pizzas and more, and for those with a sweet tooth, there’s a selection of treats to choose from too. A variety of retail options are also on offer – perfect for a spot of retail therapy – and wine lovers can sample some of the best vino of the Overberg at the wine shop upstairs, Sóvinhos. You’ll find something for everyone here so bring the whole family.
Full market on Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 5pm. Limited selection of vendors on Wednesday and Fridays evenings.
Ou Meul Bakery in Riviersonderend
No road-trip is complete with the addition of some homemade padkos – and the flagship Ou Meul Bakery shop in Riviersonderend is the best place to find just that. From fresh-baked pies, biscuits and cakes, to mouth-watering biltong, dried fruits and nuts, as well as a selection of juices and Bootlegger coffee, this is where you’ll want to stock up on all those tasty nibbles that will keep your tummy happy on the road. You’ll enjoy a true farmstall experience and you’ll even be able to find that something special to take home with you from the range of mainly locally produced retail products on offer. Ou Meul is an original Overberg institution and well worth a visit.
Joubert-Tradauw wine cellar
This family-owned private wine cellar nestled in the Klein Karoo’s Tradouw Valley just outside Barrydale is an excellent choice for a spot of wine tasting (granted you’re not the driver!) Come and taste the unfiltered, natural and handcrafted wines made by award-winning wine maker Meyer Joubert, whose extensive knowledge of the vines is reflected in his masterful wines. From a crisp Chardonnay, to their signature R62 varietals, you’ll be happy you popped by. And to make your visit that much better, you can also sample some of the delicious Klein Karoo tapas on offer at the much-loved R62 Deli Alfresco. Dine outdoors in true al fresco style under the vine-covered veranda overlooking the farm – simply stunning!
Must try: Be sure to order a slice of the to-die-for French chocolate cake.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Experience a Karoo-style safari while on your road-trip at this little slice of bush heaven. Located at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, you’ll get to explore the wide open wilderness plains with their indigenous flora and fauna, not to mention some unique San rock art dating back more than 3500 years. Choose from three different luxury lodges, each with their own Karoo magic, and head out on morning and evening game drives where you’ll spot a variety of animals, including cheetah, lion, elephant, buffalo and more. A unique safari destination, this is the ideal stop-over if you’re wanting a wildlife fix on the road.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
A favourite for hikers, cyclists, bird and whale watchers, the beautiful De Hoop Nature Reserve is an outdoor lover’s paradise - with plenty of activities to choose from, it’s no wonder that it’s visited time and again by those who love to be out in nature. Home to one of the country’s best hiking trails, the Whale Trail (currently closed for maintenance until April 2020), there’s also a neighbouring marine reserve which is actually a World Heritage Site - in fact, it’s one of the largest marine protected areas on the continent. So from land to sea, De Hoop is really a special retreat and well worth a visit (and stay!) during any road-trip that passes by.
Stay at the amazing De Hoop Collection and chose from a range of different accommodation options, from suite and cottage options – all lovely. Click here to take a look.
Lunch at Diesel and Crème in Barrydale
Barrydale is a charming little town in the heart of the Tradouw Valley, straddling the border between the Cape Overberg and the Klein Karoo. There are many exciting things to try here, from visiting the Manger Farm in nearby Lemoenshoek to walk the labyrinth and the peace pagoda, to walking through the town’s and restoring body and soul at the Warmwaterberg hot springs, not to mention enjoying a hike in the surrounding hills. Magpie Art Collective also offers whimsical and bespoke creations, with many of the works having been produced either entirely from or incorporating repurposed or recycled materials. If there’s one place you stop for a bite though here, it has to be the famous Diesel and Crème. Known for its monster shakes and diner-style fare, your road-trip just won’t be complete without one of their burgers and milkshakes to wash it down.
We recommend: The Jack Daniels burger with a Lady in Red (red velvet shake) – you can thank us later.
Visit L’Agulhas, the southernmost coastal village in South Africa
Apart from lying on Cape Agulhas, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at the end of the African continent, this lovely village also boasts a magnificent red and white lighthouse, the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. It is the country’s second-oldest working lighthouse and its design is based on the Pharos of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After being declared unsafe in 1968, it was restored and today the lighthouse is a National Monument with its own museum.
Sharks, penguins and other birds in Gaansbaai
Gansbaai is considered the white shark headquarters of South Africa, making it the number one choice for shark cage diving. It’s also home to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a sanctuary that provides temporary rehabilitative care to diseased, injured or abandoned marine birds, with a special focus on the endangered African Penguin colonies of Dyer Island (just off the coast at Gansbaai). Visit the sanctuary to see first-hand the amazing work that gets done here (daily feeding at 3pm), or join one of the eco cruises to get out onto the ocean and learn more about the research being conducted.
Fancy a stay over in Gansbaai? Click here to find your perfect spot.
Take a ride on the Malgas Pontoon Ferry
The Malgas Pont is famous for being the only hand-drawn pont, and in fact, the last of its kind in the country. It works with a standing cable (a pulley system) along which the ferry is “walked” across the river. It is run by three or four local men, who haul as many as three cars at a time 120 metres across the water. The pontoon is the only way across the Breede River by car, on the back roads between the N2 and Cape Infanta. Don’t expect anything romantic here, but it’s definitely something novel to experience.
Take the Tradouw Pass to Swellendam
Built by master pass builder Thomas Bain, Tradouw Pass was created to make Witsand (at the mouth of the Breede River) more accessible to the farmers in the region for transport of their produce - with its technical innovativeness, it’s considered one of his best road-engineering efforts. The pass, found along the route between Barrydale and Swellendam, is a 17km stretch well-known for its spring wild flowers, clusters of blazing red aloes in late autumn, flowing waterfalls in the winter and glistening swimming pools in the summer. The terrain may be rugged but the views and natural beauty of the Langeberg you’ll encounter make every winding (and sometimes hair-raising) bend worth it.
Look out for: The Buffelsjags River Gorge, with its stunning rock pools and waterfall.
Make a go of it and spend a night or two in gorgeous Swellendam. Our pick: Schoone Oordt Country House.
From countryside to seaside, fine wine to unique safari experiences, it’s almost impossible to single out only one of the many highlights – the Overberg simply has it all. We hope you enjoying exploring all it has to offer from the road, easily one of the best ways to take it all in.
You may also be interested in reading our blog The best of the Cape Overberg