The Overberg is the southernmost region of South Africa and is reached by travelling due east on the N2 from Cape Town over Sir Lowry's Pass and through the Hottentot-Hollands Mountains, giving rise to the region's name which translates to over the mountain. Passing through spectacular farmlands and the apple-farming territory of Elgin, one comes to the turn-off to Caledon which is then only a short drive to Napier.
Napier has peculiar origins! It was founded in 1838 when Michiel van Breda and Pieter van der Byl could not agree where the church should be built - with the result the dispute was resolved by the building of two churches which then founded the neighbouring settlements of Bredasdorp and Napier, the latter being named after Sir George Napier, the British governor of the Cape Province at that time. Oddly enough, Napier's church became one of only two South African churches located next door to the hotel, the village source of the demon drink!
The charming village of Napier is now a blend of century-old cottages and modern houses, all surrounded by the rolling farmland which typifies the Overberg and gives the village its delightful rural atmosphere. In the distant past the village was known for its blacksmiths, a heritage which is commemorated by the annual Horse and Cart Festival. Other popular annual events are the Patatfees (Sweet Potato Festival), every June, and the Voet van Africa (Foot of Africa) Marathon which is run in mid-September.
Other points of interest in Napier itself are the gold mine on the Hansiesrivier Farm and the sundial outside the municipal building which can be read to within half a minute. The sundial was erected by Danie du Toit who had no training in this field but gained his knowledge through meticulous observation.
The popularity of Napier has increased dramatically during the past few years. Napier is now rated by the Tourism Board as the fourth most attractive village of the Western Cape after Montagu, Greyton and McGregor, all of which are within an easy drive of Napier itself.
Bredasdorp was founded in 1838 by Michiel van Breda. It is the commercial centre for the Agulhas area of the Overberg, serving the agricultural industry while having a healthy arts and crafts centre.
The town is renowned for its Shipwreck Museum which results from the town being the closest centre to the coastline of Cape Agulhas on which many ships came to grief in the bygone years of fragile sailing ships. Many steam ships also foundered on this coast before navigational aids kept maritime traffic away from the rocks. The museum displays all manner of artefacts recovered from the wrecks over the years, from cannon and figureheads to chinaware and coins. Of particular note is the monument erected in Arniston by the wife of Colonel Giels to the memory of their four sons who died in the 1815 wreck of the East Indiaman Arrniston, four from a total of 372 who lost their lives in that tragedy.
Arniston is the only village in South Africa with two official names, the other being Waenhuiskrans which translates to Wagon House Cliff, derived from the huge natural cave in the cliff.
The village is a seaside resort and is renowned for being picture-perfect. It includes the 200-year old Kassiesbaai fishing community with its whitewashed and thatched fisherman's cottages and now protected as a national heritage site.
Arniston is named after the wreck of the Arniston as commemorated by the plaque on the rocks in front of the Arniston Hotel, facing the site of the wreck 5km to the east. It is known as a fisherman's paradise for both rock and boat anglers and was voted by Time Magazine as one of the best ten hideaways in the world, at last discovered!
Struisbaai is a popular holiday destination for those in the know. It has excellent fishing as well as one of the best beaches for swimming or walking in the Overberg. It is well worth a visit, particularly during the annual Geelstert Fees (Yellowtail Festival) which puts one of the Cape's finest eating fish on the menu.
Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point of the African continent and is the point dividing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The name derives from the Portuguese for needles and reminds the visitor that this area of the world was first explored (in the modern sense) by the Portuguese.
The Agulhas lighthouse is the second oldest in South Africa and houses an interesting museum.
The Cape Agulhas region offers a veritable paradise of nature in all her glory, which will delight even the most discerning tourist, botanist, hiker, photographer, historian, bird watcher or angler. Bordered by blue mountain ranges, set in undulating hills in a kaleidoscope of gold, green and brown, with endless beaches and dunes. Fragrances of fynbos merge with mountain and sea air.
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