With the arrival of spring and the Coronavirus pandemic well under control, the Overstrand is gearing up for the summer season, enticing both locals and visitors to venture into the great outdoors and enjoy the many natural splendours of our region. After being confined by the lockdown regulations for so long, there is no better time to celebrate our new freedom by embracing the many outdoor experiences and adventure activities on offer in our region during the upcoming Heritage Day long weekend and the school holidays.
Whether it’s ambling along our iconic Cliff Path, hiking in the fabulous Fernkloof Reserve, enjoying one of the mountain biking routes in our beautiful valley, trail running through one of our famous vineyards, kayaking in the New Harbour or on the Klein River Estuary, there is no excuse for remaining cooped up inside or complaining of boredom!
For adrenaline junkies, SA Forest Adventures offers a range of adventure activities that present a whole new way of experiencing the natural attractions of the Overstrand. How about a tree-top zipline tour that extends from the mountain, over a small waterfall between the poplar trees and canyon? You will glide from platform to platform high above the ground (8 m – 50 m) over the tree canopy, with only bird sounds echoing in the forest. This will certainly give you a view of our Hemel-en-Aarde valley that you’ve never seen before!
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, how about SA Forest Adventures’ Quad Bike Trail? You can opt for a route that takes you through the world-renowned vineyards of Hamilton Russell and Southern Right wineries, up the mountain and through the fynbos kingdom into Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Other options include a wine tasting quad trail and a stargazing trip that will bring you closer to the brilliant display of a starry African night sky. Another popular option is sandboarding, a thrilling recreational activity that takes place on a large +-230 metre-high sand dune and is guaranteed to be an experience you will remember for years to come! Visit www.saforestadventures.co.za for more information.
If horse riding is your passion, how about enjoying a horse trail along the coast? Pearly Beach Horse Trails offers unforgettable horseback adventures that will take you through dune forests and across the pristine white sandy beaches of one of the most exquisite stretches of coastline. Or meander through rural farmland, and into the mountains, discovering the unique indigenous fynbos whilst taking in the splendid scenery.
You’ll enjoy the individual and knowledgeable attention of your personal trail guide, Sarah Coronaios, who will share with you her passion for horses and the Overberg. Southern Right Whales are plentiful in season and the lure of a dip in the cool blue Atlantic beckons on hot trail-riding days. Pearly Beach Horse Trails are suitable for young and old, from novice to experienced riders. All trails are inclusive of a professional photographic package that includes a drone video so that you can take home your special memories. For more details, visit www.pbhorsetrails.co.za.
A visit to the Panthera Africa near Stanford is nothing less than inspiring. The main purpose of this big cat sanctuary is to be an educational platform where founders Lizaene Cornwall and Cathrine Nyquist create awareness about conditions big cats face in captivity, and how animal welfare and enrichment play a vital role in giving them the best captive life possible. They are a blueprint of how an ethical non-profit sanctuary can become self-sufficient.
Pre-bookings can be made to visit this 40 ha paradise, where the knowledgeable and passionate staff will educate you on interesting facts about the different species (lions, cheetahs, leopards, caracals and Bengal tigers) and enlighten you about their unique personalities and their heartfelt rescue stories. Panthera is running a Spring Special on their educational visits until the end of September, where you pay for 3 tickets and get the 4th one free, offered from Wednesday to Sunday at 10:00 and/or 15:00 (depending on availability). Pre-book your visit now by calling 071 182 8368 or visit www.pantheraafrica.com.
Dyer Island Cruises offers Whale-watching and Eco Tours from their headquarters in Kleinbaai – an experience that many have described as “life-changing”. With the whale-watching season in full swing, why not book a safe and comfortable cruise into the heart of the Marine Big Five? At this time of year you have a good chance of seeing whales, dolphins, Cape fur seals, African penguins and great white sharks, potentially in a single trip, in the company of experienced marine tour guides.
You’ll be taken to Dyer Island, which is located 8 km from shore and is an access-controlled Important Bird Area (IBA) for the conservation of its many resident bird species, including African penguins. From there you’ll cruise to Geyser Rock, home to a 60 000 strong Cape fur seal colony, and into the channel of water between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock known as the world-famous ‘Shark Alley’ and, finally, to all the whale hot-spots in the bay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Visit www.whalewatchsa.com for all the information.
There are also several shark-cage diving companies that have resumed operations, and while this was already a hugely popular activity among international tourists before the Covid-19 lockdown, more and more locals are now discovering the thrill of coming up close and personal with the majestic Great White Shark. For more information, go to sharkwatchsa.com, sharklady.co.za or whitesharkprojects.co.za.
And if you prefer to leave all the organising and booking up to someone who has all the local knowledge and experience to ensure that you get that individualised tour tailored to your specific tastes and interests, why not contact Percy Tours. Whether it’s a wine tour of our valley, a flying trip over Walker Bay to spot the whales from the air, a shark-cage diving experience or simply a Hermanus orientation tour, Percy will devise a completely personalised tour schedule according to your wishes. It could be as adventurous and action-packed – or as relaxed and chilled-out – as you want. Percy Tours is registered & accredited with the Cape Wine Academy, Cape Town & Hermanus Tourism Boards, CATHSSETA, HATT, insured to the highest level and trained in First Aid, which all means that you’ll be in excellent hands. Check out percytours.com or contact 072 062 8500.
Lastly, for those of a more gentle persuasion, who might simply enjoy a good walk but don’t know where all the best hiking trails are – why not contact a local guide who has intimate knowledge of the most beautiful trails in our Cape Floral Kingdom? Mariclaire Day is an experienced and qualified guide who knows these mountains like the palm of her hand and enjoys nothing more than sharing great outdoor experiences. Her hikes are ideal for small groups of friends, families or colleagues of all ages, and can be arranged to suit their needs and fitness levels, ranging from a half-day walk to a more strenuous full-day hike or even multi-day hiking tours. Mariclaire can be contacted on 083 208 9522.