Exploring and Birding in Overberg and Little Karoo
Villiersdorp is known as the pearl of the Overberg and is very central for exploring the beauty and delights that this region and the nearby Little Karoo have to offer. The village is almost surrounded by mountains with Theewaterskloof dam on the southern edge.
Hermanus, known for whale watching and spectacular walks along cliff paths, as well as Fernkloof Nature Reserve is an hour away; as is Betty’s Bay with the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens and threatened African penquins at Stony point. Greyton, a quaint small village with a Nature reserve with hiking trails and popular Saturday morning market is also an hour away. Genandendal, the neighbouring village which was originally a Moravian mission, has some beautiful historical buildings to explore.
For those who enjoy driving further afield Arniston, or Waenhuiskrans, is two hours away travelling through Caledon and Bredasdorp. Arniston is an absolute essential if you have never been there with its clear blue sea, fascinating rock pools, wagon-sized cave accessible at low tide, Strandlooper stone fish traps and fishing boats that go out in the early mornings and return with delicious fresh fish. De Mond Nature Reserve, which includes one of South Africa’s few pristine estuaries, is also nearby. The 6 km Sterna trail up the river, across the sand dunes and back along the sandy beach to the mouth of the estuary is an incredibly beautiful walk with a huge variety of birds. Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa within the Agulhas National Park, is also just within a day’s trip. Caledon has a spa with hot springs and Bredasdorp a most interesting Shipwreck Museum.
On any trips through the Overberg you should see our magnificent National Bird, the Blue Crane. The highest density of this Red Data species now occurs in the Overberg, where wheatfields and dry-land pastures act as artificial grassland, while numbers have declined significantly in the Grassland biome. You may also see the scarce Southern Black Korhaan, large Denham’s Bustard and Black Harrier, also Red Data species. As Villiersdorp has fynbos, renosterveld and Little Karoo habitat nearby it is a special place for birding. The variety of birds seen in Riversong garden is amazing being on the edge of the Elands River and farmlands. A pair of Spotted Eagle Owls regularly breed in a nearby. There is a resident pair of African Harrier-Hawk or Gymnogenes in the village as well. Donella is a keen birder and has worked in the field of conservation for many years, so is willing to point you in the right direction or accompany you.
Male Southern Masked-Weaver building in Zimbabwe creeper near stoep
Villiersdorp is only half an hour from Franschhoek for those who delight in their famous cuisine and historical wine farms. The Franschhoek Pass through the fynbos of the Hottentot’s Holland mountains is spectacular. There are hiking trails available here, in Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, and at the Nuweberg Nature Reserve between Villiersdorp and Grabouw. The new Cape Canopy Tours for the adventurous are run from Nuweberg.
There are some well-known Wine farms in the area with Stettyn dating back to 1714. There is also an old stone Mill on this farm. Other nearby wine farms include Aan de Doorns, Brandvlei, Cilmor, Eagle’s Cliff, Nuy and Overhex.
The Olyfberg and Willow Greek Olive Estates are also less than an hour from Villiersdorp.
For those who enjoy exploring country roads there is a beautiful hour’s drive through wheat fields, renosterveld, vineyards and fruit orchards and Little Karoo veld to McGregor, another quaint historic village. The threatened Southern Black Korhaan can be heard and sometimes seen along this route.
We have permission to walk on some neighbouring farms, so one of us can accompany you.
Villiersdorp itself is quiet, there are a number of talented artists and a few country restaurants, as well as a renowned craft and wool shop and well-stocked co-op with irrigation, farm and hardware supplies. There are some beautiful historical buildings like Dagbreek, which houses the Info Office and De Villiers Graaff High school. A fascinating Tractor Museum, with 50 tractors from all over the world ranging from the 1920’s. The Alwyn Vintcent steam tug is currently being renovated in Villiersdorp.
For those from a large city who may be desperate for a Mall, Worcester is only half an hour away to the north and to the south Somerset West Mall is about an hour away.