This patch of unspoilt Cape coastline draws lovers of the outdoors from all over South Africa, looking to get close to nature and enjoy activities like hiking, birding, whalewatching and river-rafting. Here’s my pick of some of the best things to do in Kleinmond in the Overberg.
You’ll find Kleinmond about 110km southeast of Cape Town, a scenic 90-minute drive. The area has a past that includes shipwrecks, strandlopers, swashbuckling pirates, crafty cattle rustlers and even runaway slaves. Today, though, Kleinmond is a holiday destination on the Atlantic Ocean with lots to keep you busy for a week or more.
The town is also part of the world-famous Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which is managed in line with international principles that combine conservation with sustainable use of natural resources and aim to stem rampant overdevelopment.
1. See wild horses at Rooisand Nature Reserve
There are some theories about how they got here. One is that after World War II British soldiers left their horses behind and the officers tasked with killing them didn’t have the heart so set them free instead. Another is that two farmers got locked in a dispute about whether the horses were included in the sale of land; the owner chased them off his land rather than surrender them to the new owner. Whichever is true, they have adapted very well to their environment.
South Africa’s has another population of wild horses at Kaapsehoop in Mpumalanga.
2. Go birdwatching at Rooisand
3. Visit the Kogelberg Nature Reserve
4. Hike the Palmiet River Trail
5. Go rafting or tubing on the Palmiet River
If water sports are your thing, you’ll be excited to know that there are river activities in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve (see point 3), depending on when you visit. You can go rafting from June to September with Gravity Adventures. For tubing, the months to visit are September to mid-January and April to June. At medium and high water levels, choose white water rafting in two-person inflatable ‘crocodiles’ or four-man rafts; at low levels experience an inflatable ‘geko’ to tackle small rapids or simply to drift along the water channels. There are trips for all ages and skills levels and they're guided by experienced river rats. Book ahead.
9. Stroll the Cliff Walk
7. See the crosses on Palmiet Beach
Walk up a small dune from Palmiet Beach in Kleinmond to see three wooden crosses commemorating the wreck of Norwegian ship, the Gustav Adolf, in 1902. The ship was on its way from Australia to Cape Town with a cargo of jarrah-wood logs for the South African Railways when it was wrecked here in an intense storm. The jarrah-wood crosses were erected in memory those who didn’t make it safely to shore.
8. Go canoeing on Kleinmond Lagoon
9. Swim at Kleinmond Beach
Swim at the blue flag Kleinmond Beach at the mouth of the Kleinmond Lagoon. Anglers can find some good spots along the rocks nearby while the rest of the family relaxes on the soft sand. Perhaps the most soulful activity is to walk on the beach at first light to enjoy the dawn colours over the sea and make the first footprints in the sand on the outgoing tide.
10. See DF Malberbe’s house on Beach Road
11. Explore Harbour Road
The Harbour Road development on the western edge of Kleinmond comprises an interesting and attractive range of shops selling crafts, curios, restaurants and galleries above the harbour, so the sea views are good. The best way to explore is to park your car wherever you can find a spot and set out on foot.
12. Eat out at Kleinmond restaurants
13. Go shopping
14. Go whalewatching
Kleinmond is part of the Cape Whale Coast, where southern right whales come to breed between June and November each year. The beach (see point 6) and Cliff Walk (see point 9) are great places from which to look for the aerial ‘blows’ that indicate the presence of these giants. You might even be lucky enough to see one of them breaching (lifting its whole body clear of the water), spyhopping (poking its head vertically out of the water) or lobtailing (beating the surface of the water with its flukes). Look out too for pods of dolphins all year round.
15. Ride a horse on the beach
16. Go wine tasting
17. Stay over in Kleinmond accommodation
18. Play a round of golf or visit a spa
Book ahead to play 18 holes at Arabella Country Estate’s world-class golf course and you’ll be joining a list of celebs like Ernie Els and Gary Player who have played here. Just 13km east of Kleinmond, the estate also includes the five-star Arabella Hotel and spa, where you can spoil yourself with lunch, high tea or a relaxing massage or spa treatment after your game.
19. Picnic at Harold Porter Botanical Garden
20. Go sand boarding
If sliding down high sand dunes sounds like your kind of fun, go sandboarding at Blesberg near Betty’s Bay. The dune is 230m high for those in search of an adrenalin rush, but of course you don’t need to start right at the top. It doesn’t matter if you sit or stand, as long as you have fun.
21. Visit the Stony Point penguins
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