Off the beaten track and surrounded by treasures of all kinds
Just when you thought you have seen and experienced everything that the Overberg has to offer, another side-road takes you into a completely new world at the foot of Africa. You have not experienced the greater Gansbaai region until you know what it means when wine suffers from bottle shock, or where to find buffalo and hippo's roaming a stone's throw away from vineyards and that magic place where two major oceans meet.
Elim Wine Route to Cape Agulhas
A trip along the Elim wine route to Cape Agulhas is a fascinating exploratory adventure taking one through a kaleidoscope of historical, cultural and agricultural treasures rooted in a variety of untouched landscapes teeming with magnificent wildlife - including buffalo, hippo’s and antelope. The Elim Wine Ward - the newest and southernmost wine route in Africa - starts at the picturesque village of Elim, situated halfway between Gansbaai and Bredasdorp. Come explore this oldest village in the Strandveld that used to be a farm (Vogelstruiskraal) in the early 1800's before missionary Hans Peter Hallbeck purchased the land and founded the Moravian Mission here in 1824. Enjoy some homemade refreshments at the Elim Heritage Centre and learn about the fascinating history of this quaint hamlet that used to be the trade, cultural and educational hub of rural Cape Agulhas long before the two towns of Napier and Bredasdorp were founded.
Follow the R43 towards Bredasdorp to taste or buy the superb wines of the five Elim winegrowers who managed to produce a range of outstanding wines in the extreme environmental conditions of the Agulhas coastal plains. Let them explain to you the art of wine making and how to prevent bottle shock. The five wineries that comprise the Elim Wine Ward are within close range of each other and offer true country hospitality and cuisine. Enjoy lunch at one of the farms and learn all about the exciting Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area where game such as buffalo, antelope and hippo's are resettled as part of an exciting eco-tourism and conservation project to conserve the unique fauna and flora of the Agulhas Plain.
Bredasdorp, Struisbaai and the Agulhas National Park
Take a break in Bredasdorp to visit the Shipwreck Museum where fascinating showpieces of the Overberg coastline - known as the "Graveyard of Ships" - are displayed. From Bredasdorp, an hour's drive north takes you to the amazing De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve, boasting seven different eco-systems teeming with wildlife, fynbos and birdlife. From the vantage point of Koppie Alleen you will see the largest concentration of Southern Right Whales along the South African coast from July to November each year.
Half an hour's drive to the south of Bredasdorp takes you past Struisbaai to Cape Agulhas and the Agulhas National Park at the southermost tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Stop at Struisbaai to watch the amazing stingrays that abound in the harbour and watch the fishermen haul in their catch. The quaint fishermen’s cottages of Hotagterklip have a rich history and is well worth a visit, or relax on the longest white sand beach in Southern Africa. Drive past the legendary Spookdraai (Ghost's corner) that guards the entrance to L’Agulhas and explore this coast of storms where many shipwrecks dot the shoreline. Climb to the top of the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, which houses the only lighthouse museum in Africa and explore the rich fynbos and birdlife along the many hiking and driving trails.
Arniston and the De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve
Another option is the R316 towards the exquisite coastal village of Arniston or Waenhuiskrans (wagon-house-cliff), named after a massive limestone cave that allegedly is so big that a wagon with a full span of oxen would be able to turn around in it. The 200 year old fishing village of Kassiesvlei has been declared a national heritage site and is a must see for any visitor. The De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve at the mouth of the Heuningnes River between Arniston and Cape Agulhas is a paradise for children and nature lovers. This spectacular estuary is home to rare bird species and some unique fynbos. Children love the tortoises and enjoy splashing in the shallow, warm water. The reserve also offers angling permits for some great fishing.
No matter which route you choose - there's a spectacular destination offering a smorgasbord of activities, cultural treasures and breathtaking sceneries within an hour's drive from Gansbaai!