My first experience of the Overberg’s Yellow Season was in 2010. I was living in Cape Town at the time and my friends and I had decided to take a trip down the Garden Route for my birthday. En route to Reebok, which is located close to Groot Brakrivier, we passed Swellendam and its surrounds and we were gobsmacked at the immense golden beauty. Everywhere we looked, there were fields and fields of bright yellow Canola flowers in bloom. According to Cathy van Eeden, a passionate resident of Swellendam who also happens to run the page, Swellendam Tourism Experience with her daughter, Fleur, Yellow Season is usually in full swing between the beginning of July and the end of August. Unknowingly, we landed ourselves in the peak of it all – a spectacular painting of prettiness all over.
While I had known of the Garden Route all my life, I had never experienced it like that before. Now, the Yellow Season is back and I can honestly say that it is one of the most beautiful South African seasons to experience. It also happens to be in an area known for its special towns and tourism attractions, which is all the more reason to visit.
“One can take so many lovely back roads to discover a new scene of beauty around each corner,” Cathy says. “What is also lovely is that the farmers do rotation farming, so the scenery changes every year.” Plus, most winters also come with snow on the mountains surrounding the area, which – in combination with the area’s Canola and wheat farms – makes for the most exquisite photography opportunities.
The historic town of Swellendam has always been one of Wikus and my favourites and we always try to make an effort to explore when we get the chance to visit. It is filled with various accommodation options – from small luxury hotels, game farms, self-catering farm accommodation, bed and breakfasts and even health retreats. Cathy also highly recommends the Under the Oaks Saturday Market where you can stroll and shop while listening to live music, indulging in some local beers and trying the fabulous local cuisine.
“We also probably have one of the best whale spotting spots in South Africa at De Hoop Nature Reserve,” Cathy boasts. In addition, you can go hiking or biking in Marloth Nature Reserve or Bontebok Park too.
If you’re keen on taking a short drive (which I can highly recommend as it’s just all so beautiful), a visit to the nearby Barrydale, bordering the Overberg and the Klein Karoo, is a must. The village was named after a famous merchant of the 19th century, called Joseph Barry and here, we’ve had some of the most delicious milkshakes we have ever tasted. When you’re there, be sure to spend time on the beautiful Tradouw Pass, check out The Maker’s Brew, Barrydale Cellar and the Magpie Gallery.
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The old missionary village of Suurbraak, which was established in 1812, is also worth a visit. So is Malgas, where you can cross the Breede River on one of the last ponts in South Africa. If fynbos and solitude are what you’re after, the sleepy little town of Infanta is also a must. According to Cathy, it is known for its unspoilt beaches. The little fishing hamlet’s rocky shoreline is also great for fishing, and whales often also frequent this coastline.
Currently, the excitement is running high for this year’s Around the Pot gravel race, which is held in Swellendam each year. It takes place on 29 July and it’s the top gravel biking event in South Africa. The race route runs through all this incredible beauty of the Yellow Season, making it a spectacular annual event, not only for those who take part in the race, but also those who come to support them.
The Overberg’s Yellow Season is one of the best seasons to visit the Garden Route. Be sure to combine your whale watching and self-drive along the Garden Route with some of this beautiful scenery.