t The craggy cliff overlooking the sands of Grotto Beach
EXPERIENCE Hermanus and the Overberg
Incorporating Africa’s most southerly headland in the form of Cape Agulhas, the productive agricultural region known as the Overberg was inhabited by Khoi fish-trappers and pastoralists prior to 1488, when the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to sail past its treacherous rocky extremity. Following the establishment of Cape Town in 1652, Dutch settlers entered into regular trade with the Khoi as far inland as Swellendam, which became South Africa’s third magisterial district in 1743 and rebelled to form a short-lived breakaway republic in 1795. The region became more settled in the first half of the 19th century, when several other towns – including the port of Hermanus and the mission at Elim – were established. The loss of hundreds of vessels off the coast of Agulhas led to the erection of a lighthouse there in 1842. The Overberg today remains a predominantly rural area whose agriculture-based economy is boosted by a burgeoning wine industry and growing tourism.