Our 5 Favorite Ways for You to Experience the Overberg

A tour through the Overberg encompasses some of the best views and activities in South Africa. Literally translated “over mountain,” this region lies just beyond the Hottentots Holland range that separates Cape Town from points farther east. It’s also known as a gateway to the Garden Route coastal stretch.

The Overberg is home to Hermanus (the land-based whale watching capital of the world), fantastic cliffside hikes, excellent boating opportunities, stunning flora, and a host of wildlife.

Here, we share four tours (Explore, Active, Family, and Quirky) to inspire what your tour through the Overberg might look like. As with most of our tours in South Africa, these are entirely customizable. We can adjust the details of the tour to align with your needs and interests.

Beyond these four favorite tours, we also highlight a private, full-day cruising tour ideal for travelers with a special interest in the region’s bird and marine life (including sharks!). Read on for more inspiration!

a long wooden dock stretches far into the sea past rocky islets and majestic mountains rising in the distance below clouds
Gorgeous scenery in the Overberg area © Extraordinary Journeys

4 Exceptional Tours with New Frontiers Escapes

Explore Tour

whale watchers line up to observe a whale breaching just feet from the edge of a boat
Whale watching in Hermanus © Marine Hotel

Your day of tracking the Marine Big 5 (southern right whale, shark, dolphin, seal and penguin) starts with a full immersion into breathtaking coastal landscapes as you travel along the R44, keeping an eye on the sea.

Hike through the lush Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, an estate which lies sandwiched between oceans and mountains and includes marsh, heath, forest, gorge, and dunes, as well as stretches of fynbos. Learn how to use some plants for medicinal purposes, especially when you reach the Khoi-San indigenous gardens.

penguins gather on a rocky outcropping at the edge of a vast bay. On the opposite shore is a village and sloping mountains.
Penguins at Betty’s Bay © Extraordinary Journeys

While exploring the Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty's Bay, home to breeding colonies of seabirds, go in search of penguins and take time to enjoy their playful antics. Continue along the coastline to the town of Hermanus, renowned for its seasonal land-based whale watching (May through October). From the cliff path trail, take in the spectacular views over Walker Bay and the mountains, and keep a look out for the massive mammals which draw close to shore in season.

Note: If whale watching tops your bucket list, the Overberg is the best place in the world to view these 40-60 tons creatures from land. Our specialist guides will take you down to the De Kelders rocks and give you a whale watching experience of a lifetime! However, for those who prefer a complete marine experience of the Marine Big 5, which includes the whales, dolphins, African penguins, Cape fur seals and surface viewing of the great white shark, we can include a boat-based whale watching trip. This trip takes about 2.5 hours (supplement cost).

In the afternoon, venture to small villages, perched on the cliffs above the bay. From an elevated vantage point, you have a birds-eye view of the whales and may possibly even see some calves.

After millions of years, the crash of waves has carved a series of underground caves into the cliffs. These caves contain a glittering array of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as seawater-filled rock pools perfect for swimming.

Outside whale season (if you visit from November through April), you’ll explore the fascinating Overberg villages and valleys in more depth, seeking out the food artisans, craft beers, ciders, and fine wines for which the region is well-regarded.

Return to Cape Town, via Sir Lowry's Pass, with its glorious mountain vistas.

Active Tour

Heading over the mountain pass, between Cape Town and Hermanus, soak up the mind-boggling views across the Atlantic. Then get off the beaten path in the lovely Elgin Valley.

One of the Cape's best-kept secrets, the area is becoming known as the Adventures Valley, thanks to a wealth of hiking and biking trails and the striking landscape of rolling vineyards, orchards, and scattered forests.

Hiking through a fynbos paradise along an old wagon trail, take the path into a family-owned, boutique wine farm, where the passion for winemaking is exhibited in their exceptional wine produce. Their belief that music, laughter, and song are all part of the process makes for a warm, welcoming atmosphere for all who visit.

For those wishing to explore at a faster pace, you can choose the options of biking or zip-lining (supplement cost). Hit Grabouw's Oak Valley mountain bike trails, renowned for superbly-maintained routes threading through prime biking terrain (from family-friendly to technically challenging trails). Alternatively, go zip-lining high above the valley.

After your active morning and exploration of the wine farm—including hiking, swimming, and wine tasting—you’ll continue on to the coastal town of Betty's Bay and, later, the Stony Point Nature Reserve, home to large breeding colonies of African Penguins and a variety of seabirds. Wander along the boardwalk of this birders' paradise, observing the highly-entertaining penguins. Go in search of remnants of a mid-1900s whaling station. Stop at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens to learn about traditional healing plants and their medicinal uses.

On your return, you’ll travel along the scenic coastal drive, passing the towns and inlets which adorn the shoreline, keeping an eye out for a glimpse of whales, dolphins, and seals which may be spotted playing in the water.

Family Tour

Today is an exciting excursion during which you’ll track the Marine Big 5 (southern right whale, shark, dolphin, seal, and penguin) along a scenic coastal path and the cliff tops of Walker Bay. Explore prehistoric caves, discover wild horses, and visit local farms.

Arriving at Stony Point in Betty's Bay you’ll visit a massive penguin colony and take in the amusing antics of these funny creatures. On this stretch of rocky terrain, you will also be looking out for dassies (rock rabbits) and a number of seabirds.

Continue on to the tiny village of De Kelders, named after the cellar-like caves formed millions of years ago in the cliffs along the Walker Bay shoreline. The caves have huge historical significance thanks to the discovery of the archaeological remains of Bushmen and people of the Middle Stone Age.

Clamber down the paths, investigating the fascinating cave system with its spectacular vistas over the bay. Explore the two-chambered Klipgat Cave, accessible via a boardwalk (and some rock-hopping) that leads out to the sea.

From the heights of the cliff-tops, look down into the bay in search of the whales (and their calves) which come right under the cliffs. (Whale watching is seasonal between May and October.)

Your next stop is the quaint village of Stanford, a place of beautiful cottages, antique shops, and artisan cafes surrounding a grassy square. Sheltered vineyards and a mountain backdrop offer fun adventure options like hiking, horseback riding, and boat cruises.

At the tour’s end, return to Cape Town via Sir Lowry's Pass with its stunning views over the Atlantic and—on a clear day—endless views towards the city.

Quirky Tour

a fat bike rider rolls down a massive white sand dune as four other bikers look on from the top of the dune
Fat biking near Gansbaai © New Frontiers

Travel to the stunning Overberg region—and to the coastal village of De Kelders. It overlooks Walker's Bay, an area renowned for superb seasonal whale watching (from May through October).

Hop onto a fat bikes, and make your way along the 4x4 track, getting used to the 4.7-inch tires before heading onto the expansive beach at the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, known as “Die Plat.” Taking things at your own pace, you can rest often and use this opportunity to simply soak in the stunning coastal landscape.

Over millions of years, the cliffs along the beach here have been chiseled away by crashing waves. The result is a vast network of stunning caves—a treasure trove of stalactites and stalagmites—and seawater-filled rock pools ideal for a quick dip.

If you’d like something a little more blood-pounding, then as an alternative to fat biking, perhaps enjoy a spot of shark-cage diving (supplement cost).

From the top of the cliffs, you can search the bay for the massive, magnificent whales that, in the right season, venture quite close to shore.

Your afternoon is spent exploring the Hemel-en-Aarde wine route, the name of which translates as “Heaven and Earth.” This region has a wealth of boutique wine estates and vineyards which produce cool-climate wines. Hemel-en-Aarde is particularly renowned for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

Classic Tour: Private Full-Day Hermanus & Dyer Island Cruise Tour

Depart Cape Town, and head over the Hottentots Holland Mountains with magnificent views across False Bay and Cape Point in the distance. Continue through the verdant apple-growing regions of Grabouw and Elgin.

Upon your arrival in Gansbaai, you’ll board a boat for an unforgettable eco-tour around Dyer Island (weather dependent). A must for bird enthusiasts, Dyer Island is home to some 8,000 African penguins and 120,000 Cape cormorants, as well as many other coastal species. Just off the island, Geyser Rock has a colony of 60,000 Cape fur seals. As you pass through the channel between the two islands, aptly named Shark Alley, keep an eye out for the great white sharks that like to make a quick lunch of the watchful (but tasty) nearby seals.


© Marine Dynamics Tours

Look out for southern right whales, between June and November, on your return cruise to Hermanus—and while ambling along the town’s cliff paths. In Hermanus , you will also have an opportunity to eat lunch and browse local craft markets.

Head homeward to Cape Town via the spectacular Marine Drive, which follows the rocky coastline past the villages of Betty’s Bay, Rooiels, and Pringle Bay.

Conclusion

From ample opportunities to spot the Marine Big 5 to wine tastings to strolls through the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, the Overberg is a region chock full of adventure. Whatever your style of touring, we can plan a day to suit your interests perfectly.

Plan Your Visit to the Overberg

Ready to discover the beauty and adventure of the Overberg region? Start planning with us today! We make the process stress-free and enjoyable.

Call or email us now to explore your best options for a South African adventure you’ll never forget!

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Jenna Stockman