Just over Sir Lowry’s Pass is the Groenlandberg Conservancy around Elgin, on the left-hand side of the N2, and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on the right.
Paul Cluver, who pioneered wine farming in this region in 1987, received a Green Lifetime Achievement award in 2010 for his efforts to preserve biodiversity on his land, and the other farmers have since also been inspired to conserve the natural beauty, rare fynbos and fauna of this precious area (the latest project is cleaning along the Jakkals River to the Bot River).
Here are 11 amazing recommendations for exploring the Overberg.
The locals’ guide to the Overberg
1. Find the best views‘Mostly from bikes, high up along the Groenlandberg, especially early in the morning when the mist is still hovering,’ says Brad. ‘You can immerse yourself in fynbos, and if you’re lucky you might spot a leopard or a fox or a caracal.’ The drive up Highlands Road gives another great perspective. With over 1000 hectares at Wildekrans you’re bound to find the perfect spot to look over canola fields and mountains’, says Braam.
2. Take a historical amble
Stay at the Houw Hoek Hotel, built in 1779, then 4X4 or hike along the ‘historic and most impressive railway line. A wonderful photo opportunity,’ says Dr Cluver. Tel 0282849646.
Also read: 12 lovely places to stay in Stanford
3. Go birding‘This valley is famous for birds – Fish eagles, Blue cranes, Cape eagle owls and Secretary birds specifically, but the Cape flufftail, SA’s most “skulking” bird, can also be ticked off,’ says Brad.
4. See wild horses
‘Rooisand Nature Reserve, with its wild horses and bird hide [on the Bot River Lagoon], is really something special,’ says Braam. Tel 0282715138.
5. HikeBrad recommends the Green Mountain Trail, a four-day slackpacking foray fuelled by fantastic food and wine, that wends its way through the mountains to Bot River. Adrenaline junkies can go kloofing at Suicide Gorge in the Hottentots-Holland Reserve (R40 a permit, tel 0214830190).
6. Go mountain biking
Oak Valley (tel 0218592510) and Paul Cluver (tel 0218440605) have trails for all levels. ‘You can park at either farm and hop over the connecting bridges,’ says Brad. ‘There are many other great trails in the valley around Elgin Country Club (tel 0218593651), and there is even an amazing MTB-specific hotel in Grabouw called Trails End.’ Tel 0218595193
7. Have a picnicNatalie suggests stocking up at Peregrine Farm Stall (tel 0218489011) or Houw Hoek Farm Stall (tel 0282849015) and enjoying a picnic at Almenkerk (tel 0218489844). ‘We’ll provide the cutlery and crockery – and the wine!’ Wildekrans offers picnics and wine tasting on horseback.
8. Take a wine cruise
‘Our neighbour, Benguela Cove, has a lovely pontoon boat in which they do wine tastings on the lagoon,’ says Tanja. R250 per person for a one-hour cruise. Tel 0836456198
9. Do the Cape Canopy Tour‘This canopy tour gives you access to the most beautiful nature reserve, swinging from mountainside to mountainside. Whether you’re five or 75, it’s a must-do,’ says Natalie. Tel 0213000501
10. Shop and eat
‘Dassiesfontein is something different’, says Braam. Part vintage store, part restaurant. He goes for the breakfast: mieliepap and moerkoffie ‘that gives you a kick for the rest of the day. Tel 0282141475
11. The top dining options in the OverbergThe Pool Room at Oak Valley is sophisticated and in a gorgeous setting. It’s known for its free-range meat dishes.Tel 0218594111
Rojaal Teekamer is a ‘secret spot’ on the Viljoenshoop road. ‘The coffee and cakes and lamb roosterkoek are out of this world,’ says Natalie. Tel 0212041085
Terra Madre Food Barn is an organic farm-to-table restaurant and deli run by Nicole Precoudis with real Greek generosity. Tel 0823281346
The Hickory Shack at Thandi Wines is something different for smoked meats and South American-style ribs. Tel 0213001396
Rivendell Bistro has just launched its new Austrian-inspired menu. Try the rindsrouladen – rolled beef stuffed with pickled veg – says Tanja. Tel 0282849025
At Gabriëlskloof Restaurant, you’ll find hearty, honest soul food prepared with love. Tel 0282849865.
Forage at Wildekrans is all about ‘wild edibles’. ‘Our chefs roam the pastures daily,’ says Braam. Plus Friday is steak night in the tasting room. Tel 0280500397