The Cape Country Meander

  • Botrivier

    A pretty river town that's home to one of the oldest hotels in South Africa.

  • Caledon

    Famous for its mineral-rich hot water springs, which were first discovered by the Khoi-khoi.


    Farm-fresh produce, apples, roses, and the best cool climate wine-producing region in the country.

  • Genadendal

    A beautifully preserved hamlet full of atmosphere and history.

  • Greyton

    Ye Olde English country village with lively street-side stores and cafés.

  • Riviersonderend

    Rural simplicity with spectacular valleys, mountains, canyons and waterfalls.

  • Tesselaarsdal

    A secluded hideaway so hidden, in fact, that it doesn't appear on certain maps.

  • Villiersdorp

    Perfectly positioned for water sport, nature and wine enthusiasts.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Why Everyone’s Excited About This Year’s Classics For All Festival

It’s here! The Classics for All Festival is back and buzzing with a 10-concert programme. This year’s festival promises to be one of the most memorable yet. Musically gifted artists of varied ages and backgrounds will come together in the foothills of the charming towns of Greyton and Genadendal. It spans three packed days of debuts, repertoire, ensembles, choirs and instrumentation. Do join us for the most coveted annual musical event in the Overberg.

What sets this festival apart?

The Classics for All Festival is small, intimate and unpretentious. The ethos behind it is about taking you on a delightful, accessible musical adventure. Performance venues include historic churches, the beautifully restored The Oaks Estate, the cosy theatre at Searles Trading Post and the High Hopes Guest House.

Something special for young aspirant music lovers

The Hugo Lambrechts Symphony Orchestra is performing a concert for children titled, “Discover the Treasures of the Orchestra”. Created especially for, but not limited to kids, this interactive, fun and educational concert will introduce our youngest members of the audience to various instruments. A few may even try their hand at conducting.

Other high notes on the 2015 lineup

A selection of the who’s who of South African pianists are performing in the various concerts. The list includes the likes of José Dias, Phillippus Hugo, Francois du Tout, Franklin Larey, Albert Combrink, Albie van Schalkwyk, Tertia Visser-Downie and Charl du Plessis.

This year, you can expect everything from choral music, sopranos and flautists to a string quartet, the Gershwin Songbook and the much-anticipated Gala Concert. In addition, you won’t want to miss the Genadendal Junior Brass Band and Village Children’s Choir.

More information and booking tickets

Start planning your end of May weekend. Grab your calendar and get ready for three days of wonderful music, food, wine and the genuine warmth and hospitality for which this very special part of the Overberg is well known.

Individual concert tickets range from R60 to R120. Go to the Classics for All website to view the lineup, select your favourite must experience performances and book through Computicket. To really get the most out of your musical weekend getaway, why not book an overnight or two at one of the many accommodation options.

As for those wanting to know if Coenie Visser initiator and organiser will be back in time from his extended stay in Bangkok? In his own words, “A festival without Coenie? Never! I’ll be there.”

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Barrells and Beards 2015 Harvest Festival Tickets On Sale Now

The increasingly popular annual Barrels and Beards grape harvest celebration in Bot River in the Overberg takes place on 17 and 18 April. Local winemakers, members of the community and visitors will get together for some musical toe tapping, delicious farm fresh food, and of course the obligatory barrel wine tastings. The weekend also provides an amusing opportunity to seek out and admire your favourite set of facial whiskers.

Long live the beard

Winemaking may be the most tactile way to understand the land, but the beard competition is a quirky insight into the unpretentious, genial personality of the place. The self-imposed shaving ban starts on 1 February and judging takes place on Saturday, 18 April. Judging is impartial although the rules (or lack thereof) are such that the winning beard could be anything from longest or thickest to most original, or perhaps even best effort.

Starts Friday, 17 April

Laid-back revelry begins with sundowners on the verandah of the historic Bot River Hotel (link to Bot River Hotel blog article). Visitors can amble over to the rail-side Shuntin’ Shed for wood-fired pizza and a chummy chat with some locals.

Gets hairy Saturday, 18 April

On Saturday morning wine tasting begins in earnest with a Best of Bot River Tasting at Luddite Wines, hosted by affable owner-winemakers Niels and Penny Verberg. Select Bot River wines will be ‘blind tasted’ against top international wines ranging from Rhône vintages to exciting new varietals. Incidentally, Niels is the original Bot River bearded man. It was he who initiated the competition back in 2011 when he was crowned hairiest of them all.

This year’s whisker king will be crowned in a beard parade at Beaumont Wines at the Saturday evening Showdown. The Showdown will include barrel tastings, a hearty country dinner and a marimba band to set the floor ablaze. Local wines will be on sale. You will also get to taste and celebrate new vintages and older favourites.

“A new addition to this year’s hairy hullabaloo will be the launch of an exclusive Bot River Auction Reserve 2013 wine, which will be auctioned off on the evening. For one night only, guests will have the opportunity to get their hands on this premium red blend, made with only the finest grapes from the Bot River area, with proceeds going towards paying for an extra teacher for Bot River Primary School. Only 100 magnums and 300 750 ml bottles will be produced to go under the hammer”.*

Heed the urge

Barrels and Beards is deliberately free of crushing crowds to make for a full, fun and immersive experience. To this end, you will need to purchase one of the sought-after tickets to participate in what is easily becoming a must-do on the annual wine event calendar. April is made for festivals. The Cape sun is warm, but the wind subsides to make the air bearably cool. It really is the perfect time to abandon the clamour of city and head to the Overberg for an easygoing, pleasure-packed weekend in nearby Bot River.

Event costs and times

Drinks at the Bot River Hotel
Friday, 17 April 18:00

Best of Bot River Tasting
Saturday, 18 April
R300 per person (includes all tasting wines and lunch)

Bot River Barrels and Beards Showdown
Saturday, 18 April
R350 per person (includes barrel tastings, dinner and entertainment)

To book or get more information contact Nicolene Finlayson on 082 852 6547 or

 * Paragraph taken from the official Bot River Wines press release (link to press release) issued by Random Hat Communications.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Here’s Why Hiking in Genadendal Has Real Measurable Benefits

New year resolutions are all about making a fresh start. And, what better way to start 2015 than by heading off to the hills to boost your brainpower for the year ahead. In fact, studies show that spending time in the great outdoors in the fresh air, one foot in front of the other, is the optimal way to improve attention span and creative problem solving. It’s not just about unplugging from technology; there’s something about wafting through fresh air and staggeringly beautiful natural landscape, which according to researchers gets the creative juices flowing far more than sitting at a desk.

Two-day circular hike in Genadendal

While Table Mountain and Cape Town surrounds have all kinds of nature walks and hikes, clambering through the Overberg is hiking heaven. Head to Genadendal, little more than an hour from Cape Town, for a two-day circular hike away from the hordes? In fact, to really get the most out of your pre-grindstone-post-festive-season-mini-holiday take an extra day to explore the beautifully preserved historic town at which your hiking adventure begins and ends.

One size-fits-most

Your walking journey covers breathtaking topography with mountains in brooding colours, rivers, kloofs, forests, gorges and peaks. You’ll also spot an incredible kingdom of plants, mammals, birds and raptors. As the trail falls into the moderate to difficult category, hikers must be reasonably fit and suitably equipped. While the views and natural eye candy is tempting be cautioned before you don some boots and head out. While you don’t need to be a mountain climbing goat the rugged terrain is by all experienced hiker accounts extremely demanding.


Day one (approximately 8 hours)

• Early start from the Moravian Mission Church in Genadendal
• Pass two pools at Groot Koffiegat and Klein Koffiegat.
• Waterfall at Klein Koffiegat and a swim at Groot Koffiegat - the latter is a good halfway stopping point.
• Day one ends at De Hoek Farm on the north side of the mountain - overnight accommodation.

Day two (approximately 7 hours)

• Return trip to Genadendal includes the highest point of the hike before descending into a ravine
• Ends at the Moravian Mission Church

Best time to go

Now, between November and March is best time to venture out from a weather perspective. However, temperatures get exceptionally hot so it’s best to leave in the early morning so as not to be trudging through the midday sun. Do take a sun hat and sun block and a generous supply of water. Also, be sure to check the weather report on the morning of your departure, as the trail can be extremely treacherous in wet and extreme weather. The Overberg is no stranger to weather extremes. Trail permits are required and can be obtained from Cape Nature.

Where to hang your sun hat overnight

De Hoek Farm is the overnight facility and a friendly gent by the name of Frank Briers is your contact person. While the total number of persons allowed on the trail per day is 24, there are two chalets on the farm, each of whi

ch sleep 8 (or a total of 16) and must be booked in advance. Facilities include an equipped kitchen, hot water and a braai (barbecue). Guests must bring own sleeping bag, towel, toiletries and food. For groups of 5 or more the cost is R150 per person per night. For smaller groups the cost is R250 per person. For more accommodation options, contact Cape Nature or Greyton Tourism.

Need to know

Permits: Cape Nature (021) 659 3500
Overnight accommodation: Frank Briers 083 277 5700
Trail distance: 25.3 km (day one 14.3 km and day two 11 km)
Level: Moderate to tough
Maximum number: 24 per day (14 per group)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Ultimate Sky-land Nature Adventure Starts Here

Cape Canopy Tour is renowned for its exhilarating family-friendly outdoor zipline (foefie slide) adventures. Earlier this year they brought their spectacular offering to Elgin to the dramatically beautiful Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. With slides of up to 320 metres long you get to swoop above all-year-round waterfalls and flower and fynbos landscape landscapes. This part of the Overberg in the Western Cape also has some prolific birdlife and you might even spot a klipspringer (small buck) or two.

Experienced guides and best quality equipment

Two fully trained, friendly guides using internationally rated gear accompany a maximum of eight guests from start to finish. This is to ensure your safety and a fully immersive nature experience. The Cape Canopy system is independently certified and safety checked by external engineers and geologists. You simply book, arrive and expect the adventure of a lifetime.

Important info for first timers

Your tour takes approximately four hours. While the weather can change without warning, Cape Canopy Tour is able to accommodate participants in all weather circumstances. They even provide you with rain suits in wet weather. Note that it gets a little chilly on the mountains regardless of the time of year, so bring along a light jacket, and more warm padding for rainy or winter days. With a one-kilometre walk at the end, you will also need to wear comfy shoes.

Unfortunately, for health reasons pregnant ladies are not permitted to participate. Instead, expectant moms can enjoy a cappuccino on the decks of the Cape Canopy Sunbird Café.

How to book

The full tour is R595 per person and includes:

• 11 slides
• 13 elevated viewing platforms
• A suspension bridge
• A 4X4 trip on top of the mountain
• Snack stop on the mountain
• Light lunch afterward
• R40 park entrance fee (which can be discounted if you have a Wild Card)

They also offer discounts for large groups.

Contact Information

+27 21 3000 501

View a Cape Canopy Tour ziplining experience here: https:/

Images courtesy of Cape Canopy Tour.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Explore Twenty of the Best Private Gardens in the Overberg

Every year locals and visitors come to the Elgin, Bot River and Vyeboom areas to see some of the best private gardens in the Overberg. This year you’ll get to explore more than 20 participant gardens, each of which has it’s own special offering from quiet mossy corners to colourful floral corridors.

You’ll get to experience the natural drama of every garden size, style and description. Expect to see everything from wild and enchanted English country to more structured contemporary gardens, perennial, wildflower, woodland, secret, rose, herb, kitchen, and entirely indigenous gardens.

Five garden routes

Taking place over the first two weekends in November, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 until 17:00, Elgin Open Gardens promises to be social, fun and inspirational. Be sure to carefully consider the five different and equally spectacular garden routes. At the very least, you’ll need to come for a day, preferably a weekend or both weekends. You won’t want to miss out on any longstanding favourites or newer, exciting additions to the programme.

Wine, food and more

Many of the local wine estates will be open for walk-in tastings. Teas, light meals and lunches will be served at various local farm stalls, wine farms and restaurants. There will also be numerous painting and sculpture exhibitions.

Fun, unfussy living plant library

The region lends itself to a wetter, cooler climate. While good for apple, pear and wine producing grape production it’s also ideal for some interesting, unusual and indigenous plants. This makes for good neighbours in the form of interesting insect and bird life.

Plants for sale

The area has long been known for its fynbos and roses but you'll be even more inspired by the variety of what’s on offer. Some establishments will have plants for sale for you to purchase and take home to recreate some of the enchantment in your own garden.

Programme and map

A downloadable list of participant gardens and a downloadable map are available online. You can also get a programme inclusive of the list and map from the Elgin Valley Tourism office.

Important information and contact details

Nine of the gardens are wheelchair or partly wheelchair friendly. Most have a small entrance fee, a proportion of which goes to a charity of the owner’s choice. Most gardens do not allow dogs. Should you wish to bring your canine friend, please contact the garden/s you would like to visit and request owner permission. Pet admission is strictly by pre-arranged permission only.

Barbara Knox-Shaw 021 844 0154 / 078 021 2101
Jessie Walton 083 458 3790

Friday, 17 October 2014

Head to The Villiersdorp Festival This Weekend

Now in its 89th year, the popular Villiersdorp Agri Festival has teamed up with the town’s annual arts festival. It promises to be a bustling local affair that enlists well known performing and visual artists alongside up and coming local talent.

This year’s excellent line up features diverse toe tapping musical acts plus arts, cultural and fun events for the whole family. The organisers have put a considerable amount of time and effort into ensuring there are plenty of dedicated activities and events for children. Starting Friday 17th until Sunday 19th October, the unconventional Villiersdorp festival is all about fresh country air, feasting and celebration.

What’s on the festival menu?

A cleverly crafted itinerary includes numerous visual art exhibitions at galleries and in private homes. Partake in apple packing or potjiekos competitions. See horse shows and dog competitions or a live musical painting demonstration. Enter the mountain bike race for scholars and adults. Attend the falcon or snake show. If adrenaline or reptiles aren’t your thing though, pop along to see an illusionist perform, be entertained by gumboot dancers or see a Cape fynbos display.

How to get there

Conveniently close to Cape Town, come and see for yourself why Villiersdorp is the ideal day trip or weekend getaway for the whole family. Getting there by car is easy. Take the N2 highway heading east past Somerset West and over Sir Lowry’s Pass. Immediately after the Peregrine Farm Stall (iconic landmark) as you head into Elgin (Grabouw) turn left at the R321/Grabouw off ramp. Proceed for just over 1 km and turn right into Main Road. Continue on until you hit Villiersdorp town. View map here.

Getting around made fun and easy

Villiersdorp is famous for its prolific vintage tractor museum. In fact, festivalgoers will get to experience the festival’s unique hop-on, hop-off tractor and trailer taxi system. In between stops, you’ll get to feast on hearty country fare and sample some exceptional local wines while you hum along to everything from light classical to Afrikaans pop.

Need to know festival information

The much-anticipated gala concert on Saturday night features recognisable songs from opera, musicals, cabaret, classical, street and café music. Recently back from their two gold medal achievement at the World Choir Games, the Tygerberg Children’s Choir will also be performing. The Little Winds Quartet in the old St Augustine village chapel brings the weekend’s proceedings to a close on Sunday.

Tickets to all concerts are available from Computicket or via the Villiersdorp Tourism Office. Most other events are open to the general public and are free of charge. Do familiarise yourself with the Villiersdorp festival itinerary though to establish the events that require booking and those that require entrance fees so as not to be disappointed.

For more information about the festival contact Villiersdorp Tourism on 028 840 0082.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

What’s On at Bot River’s 2014 Spring Festival

While it might not feel as though spring is in the air just yet, tell tale flowers are beginning to bloom. Soon it will be time to shed those winter wellies and celebrate the new season. Bot River wine country is bustling with preparations for it’s annual two-day spring festival, which kicks off on Saturday, 6 September.

Spring is nature’s way of getting into a festive mode, so why not come along and join in some real honest to goodness country fun. Bring the kids and granny too. All are welcome.

Food, wine and friendly

Thirteen wine farms will throw open their doors on Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. Delicious fare includes award winning speciality cheeses, hot and cold smoked products, fresh baked and bottled goodies and plenty more to purchase and take home to snack on later. Al fresco and indoor dining options include food and wine pairings, tasting menus, a pop up bistro, barrel cellar lunch, brunch, braai, carvery and some chef interaction to boot.

Festival activity line up

While happily munching, you’ll get to relax or party to live musical entertainment, sip on Bot River wines or sample some locally crafted beer. You can opt to take the kids on a tractor ride or prove your prowess in an olive spitting competition, a “kettie skiet” competition or a wine blending competition. Alternatively, you might want to visit the historic and rare working water mill, do some wine tasting, tour a vineyard, see a pruning demonstration, participate in a tea tasting workshop or try your hand at some spring wreath making.

Important information

Getting there is easy. From Cape Town, simply take the N2, zoot through Somerset West and over Sir Lowry’s Pass. Within a relatively short space of time you’ll see the signs that will lead you to the Western Cape’s rising wine country. There really is no better way to experience the soul of a place than through its people, wine and food. The spring festival is a prime opportunity to meet some of the local winemakers and owners, to experience Bot River valley for yourself, and to get out of the city and have some fun. 

It’s best to preplan where you want to go and what you’d like to experience. To view the Bot River Spring Festival 2014 line up and to find out more click here.