So you thought it was all about wheat, whales and wine? We’ve lined up something completely different. Here are 5 must-do Overberg activities
Words: Marianne Heron
Pictures: David Morgan and supplied
Everyone has in them a spark of art waiting to be kindled, believes Dale Elliot, who pioneered art holidays in South Africa more than 20 years ago. Based in a purpose-built studio in Villiersdorp, the three-day and one-day multi-level art courses Dale runs with his wife Janny and son Mel, are suitable for experienced painters and beginners wanting to explore their underused right-brain creativity.
Among some of the most inspiring scenery in the Cape, landscape painting is facilitated with lectures, demonstrations and a framework of guidelines. Both oil painting and watercolour courses are on offer and there is plenty of time to enjoy the social side of things with visits to restaurants and vineyards.
Villiersdorp 028 840 2927, www.daleelliot.co.za
2. Slip Sliding
High in the Hottentots-Holland Nature Reserve is an unreachable gorge where the Riviersonderend begins its course. Unreachable it is, except for those who to take a spectacular tour of this pristine World Heritage Site with Cape Canopy Tours. Eleven stainless steel slides carry viewers between 13 platforms built into precipices, in a construction involving 2.5km of cables and a suspension bridge.
The highest platform is 110 metres above the gorge, (the height of Victoria Falls) guaranteeing an adrenaline rush, and revealing the secrets of a place that has a double waterfall, primal Afromontane forest, and fynbos. The brainchild of Ryan Larkman in partnership with CapeNature, the four-hour trip begins with a 4×4 ride followed by a short walk to the canopy tour, lunch and return to base.
Elgin Valley 021 300 0501, www.capecanopytours.co.za
3. Don’t Hike, Bike
Exhilarating 4×4 quads and ebikes (electrically assisted to help with hills) make quite the alternative to shank’s mare when it comes to accessing nature and fabulous scenery. From a Heaven on Earth two-day quad trail around the Hottentots-Holland Mountains and the Elgin Valley, to half-day tours with a picnic and swimming in rock pools at a waterfall, to a couple of hours with the family ebiking forest trails, there is plenty to choose from at Brian Pickering’s Nature Discovery at Eikenhof Dam.
Grabouw 021 859 1989, www.naturediscovery.co.za
4. Raise Your Libido
The sign ‘Aphrodisiac Shack’ catches the eye on the road from Grabouw to Villiersdorp, ‘Shack’ certainly a misnomer for the neat cottage on the idyllic shore of Theewaterskloof Dam. Inviting picnic spot seems more like it, which is really what Aphrodisiac Shack is, combined as it is with a smoke-house deli offering cured meat and wine pairings. Picnic baskets filled with charcuterie, cheese and wine are served at inviting tables beside an outdoor bar at the water’s edge.
Chef Sean Hormann returned to South Africa from England to “live the dream’’, bringing with him his expertise in the processes involved in smoked foods. “Two processes are used,” explains his partner Jeanette Wright – hot smoking using apple wood, and cold smoking with French oak. The shelves of the deli are filled with smoked products from salt to honey. “Anything you eat we can smoke,” says Jeanette. But where does ‘Aphrodisiac’ come from? “Ah, there’s a story,” says Sean… but you will have to find that out for yourself.
Theewaterskloof Dam 028 840 0313, 083 682 5030, www.ashack.co.za
5. Tractor Bliss
There’s a fabulous but little-known treat in the centre of Villiersdorp. The Tractor Museum has dozens of faithfully restored vintage tractors, the gleaming exhibits including Landinis from Italy, the Minneapolis Moline, and the veteran Massey Harris Pony from the UK. The collection is the pride and joy of the local branch of the Western Cape and SA Vintage Tractors and Engine Club. Daddy of them all is a 1928 McCormick Deering. The keys to the museum are next door at the Kelkiewyn farm stall, on request.
Villiersdorp 028 840 0900