Long Weekend: Overberg Overture

2012-08-06 15:43

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The unspoilt beauty of the Cape Overberg and neighbouring Robertson wine valley includes a unique fynbos biosphere, the world's best land-based whale watching, superb wines and unrivalled hospitality and warmth.

Die Laatjie, Dassieshoek Valley, Roberston

At the end of the long gravel road to Die Laaitjie, surrounded by the beautiful Langeberg mountains, the gracious main house with its doors flung open to the lake seems almost too good to be true. Die Laatjie is setting a new precedent when it comes to self-catering accommodation. The property comprises a mid-Victorian main house that sleeps eight, three self-catering cottages that each sleep four in two double bedrooms, as well as a two-sleeper cottage, all with en-suite bathrooms, cosy fireplaces and the homely decor you wish you had at home. Spend your days searching out the farm's secret waterfalls and pools or navigating the hiking and horse-riding trails that crisscross the surrounding mountains. The farm has peach, pear and apricot orchards and produces hand-crafted méthode ancienne wine. Your only regret? That you can't keep it all to yourself.  - Andrew Franks

De Hoop Nature Reserve. Photographs by Liezl Fischer and Warren Heath

Koppie Alleen, De Hoop Nature Reserve

If it's good enough (as a breeding ground) for nearly half of the southern right whale population, not to mention Damara terns and black oystercatchers, it's good enough for us. Perhaps not as a breeding ground, but as one of the Cape's great conservation areas - it's a World Heritage Site - and a place that is home to 50 fynbos plant species found nowhere else on earth! Nestled among the fynbos high on a dune is the captivating Koppie Alleen, comprising a series of interleading fishermen's cottages set some 300 metres from the beach, the only buildings in sight along this unspoilt stretch of coastline. The living and sleeping areas are arranged around a communal braai/fire pit and entertaining area, with a koskamer for cooking, eating and living. There's no electricity so it's gas lights and appliances all the way, which adds to the charm of the place. It sleeps eight in simple but wonderfully decorated rooms that come with four-poster beds made up in crisp linen with mosquito nets. With sun loungers and umbrellas for hot days and a giant fireplace for chilly nights, Koppie Alleen is so homely and well equipped, you'd be forgiven for thinking you're lord of the manor.   - Kerryn Fischer

Halfaampieskraal

Halfaampieskraal, Napier

If you're after an authentic ‘farm stay' weekend but want something a little more sophisticated than a ‘Tannie Sannie se kothuis' stay, then Halfaampieskraal is a must. This 250-year-old wool, down, wheat and dairy farm in the Overberg is an unusual retreat, with three stylish rooms in what was once a blacksmith's forge, a school room and a building that housed the wind-powered generator. Then there's Club Havana, a shed filled with coloured lights and interesting bits of Ouma's furniture that makes for a great party atmosphere. Owner Jan-Georg Solms and his partner Cobus Geldenhuys, who live in the main house, are fabulous cooks who whip up delicious, hearty food and the best paella in the region. You can relax in the beautiful gardens or next to the pool and, for those more energetically inclined, there are always the vast rolling hills to hike. The seaside villages of Arniston, Hermanus and Cape Agulhas are all within an hour's drive, as are the historic farming villages of Swellendam and Greyton, making Halfaampieskraal the perfect Overberg base. Don't miss a visit to nearby Elim, founded as a Moravian mission station in 1824 and with its community still deeply rooted in the Overberg to this day. - Cornelia Badenhorst

The Robertson Small

The Robertson Small Boutique Hotel, Robertson

Don't be put off by the austere style of the reception area or the draughty air-con that greets you on arrival - this gem of a hotel set within a series of converted buildings and stables is deserving of every one of its five stars. And, despite its name, there's nothing diminutive about what's on offer. A place of utter escape and discreet luxury, this is a welcome addition to the Breede River Valley. Comprising 10 contemporary suites all set within lush, old-style gardens as well as two pools, The Robertson Small has ensured no detail has gone unnoticed - from the king-size beds to the complimentary mini-bar and a veritable smorgasbord of bath products for your personal use. And if your idea of relaxation is staying put, no problem - the hotel's signature restaurant, Reuben's (directed by acclaimed chef Reuben Riffel), dishes up delicious local and organic meals - so you can sit back, relax and soak up this unique brand of country hospitality.  - Nicola Redelinghuys


This article first appeared in National Geographic Traveller SA.

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