|The Overberg's rolling hills seem to go on forever
An often overlooked part of the Western Cape is the Overberg. The name literally means 'just over the mountains' and that it is where this area lies: just over the mountains to the east of Cape Town. The Overberg is a rich area for farming, mostly grain, and also many varieties of Camp vineyards. It is a beautiful area that offers visitors unique opportunities.
Sandwiched between the Cape Peninsula and the Garden Route, the Overberg stretches from Hottentots-Holland in the west to Swellendam in the west. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans border it on the south, meeting at the famous Cape Aghulas, the southernmost point in Africa.
Cape Aghulas is not only the southernmost point of Africa, but is the official divider between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. The spot where the two oceans meet play an important role in maintaining the warm and cold ocean currents of the area. The Portuguese called it the 'Cape of Needles' because it was the one place where true north and magnetic north in the same direction. It was also an infamously dangerous cape to pass and the lighthouse that was built here centuries ago can still be seen today and houses a museum detailing the history of the area.
Hermanus can also be found on the coastline of the Overberg. This beautiful port town is famous for its seafood, but more importantly for the annual Whale Festival. Hermanus is one of the best places in the world to spot whales from land. The whales migrate to the area annually to mate, offering visitors and unparalleled view of the giants of the sea.
The towns of Gansbaai and Mossel Bay offer shark cage diving expeditions for the adventurous. The Overberg coast is one of the best places in the world to come face to face with the infamous great white shark in the coastal waters.
Moving inland, the Overberg offers other attractions. The Kogelsberg Biosphere Reserve houses the largest population of flowering fynbos in the entire South Africa. Visitors can go on scenic hikes to witness these endemic plant species up close. When the hiking gets too much, the Overberg is also home to two wine routes.
The climate of the Overberg makes it the ideal place to farm grain, mainly wheat, giving it the moniker of the 'Breadbasket of the Cape'. The fine weather also makes for ideal conditions for making wine. The hot region of the Overberg is ideal for growing Hanepoot and Muscadel grapes. The Walker Bay and Elgin wine routes include more than 50 different vineyards between them that offer visitors a taste of the fine produce of the area.
The Overberg may often be overlooked but is well worth investigating. The weather is mild and predictable and the scenery is spectacular. From the coastal beaches to the vineyards hugging the sides of the mountain ranges, the Overberg is a hidden jewel of the Western Cape that should not be missed.
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