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Issue 2
Africa Travel> Issue 2
UPDATED: August 27, 2014
Over the Mountain
South Africa's southern most region alive with warm people, luxury accommodation and spectacular landscapes
By Jo Kromberg

L'Agulhas is the most southern most point on the African continent

The Overberg region in South Africa's Western Cape Province, which is an Afrikaans term meaning "over the mountain", is Africa's southern most region, with L'Agulhas its southern tip.

Setting out from Cape Town we arrive an hour later in the heart of the region's Kogelberg Biosphere and overlooking the largest natural lagoon in South Africa, the five-star Arabella Western Cape Hotel and Spa is one of South Africa's premier golf and spa resort. Conde Nast Traveler called it "a deceptively low key architectural masterpiece of sandstone, timber, glass and steel with an impressive range of services and state-of-the-art show kitchen." The only thing you're encouraged to work really hard at is the art of slow at this sublime place.

The rooms are something to behold. Well, rooms might be understating it a tad - gargantuan suites dripping in every luxury more like - there is a TV above the bath for instance. The hotel comprises of 145 rooms, ranging from deluxe to luxury suites.

Two presidential suites offer a butler service, private sauna and Jacuzzi.

Our suites overlook the lagoon, golf course and beautiful mountains, with slowly fading hues of pink dancing off the surface in the emerging dusk. At dinner we are joined by our charming and witty host John Bumstead, the director of golf. The following morning we are treated to what is known as the "rainforest experience" at the hotel's world famous spa. For more than two hours you are subjected to steams and waters in varying heat degrees either being cascaded down on you or enveloping you in one or another way. The treatment is rather radical and certainly attains the objective, which is to detox, steam clean, wash, purify, pummel and petrify the client. But I have to say, we emerged from this excursion feeling miraculously, um, "new."

We wave our goodbyes and its back on the road again. We are now in the heart of the Whale Route: the bustling town of Hermanus, which according to leading authorities offers the world's best land-based whale watching. Be on the lookout for Zolile the only Whale Crier in the world that alerts you to the presence of the Southern Right whales in the Bay. We stay overnight at the Abalone Guest Lodge in Hermanus, an unusually artistic and unique location with gorgeous views and a tranquil ambience. The Lodge is situated on Sievers Point, a landmark beachfront position midway between the town center and beautiful white beaches of Hermanus. We find ourselves exhausted from all the unusual spa excitement earlier and turn in early under what feels like a LOT of thread count cotton duvet, lulled to sleep by a softly whispering ocean.

After a huge continental breakfast the following morning, we find our way to Napier via Caledon, following the R316 via Napier to the southern most region of Africa. The weather is sunny and the mountains and blue sky look unreal, like something conjured up by the animators of Ratatouille. Poplar trees run along the road like grey cotton candy wrapped in a forlorn wisp of a cloud. We take a detour on the advice of the friendly and well-informed Lizl from Abalone and drive to Baardskeerdersbos, a community of what seems to comprise of about 117 people, still almost completely cut off from the world. We pass a horse-drawn cart and Michelle makes the driver stop for a photo. We meet and chat to one of the occupants, the delightful Oom Snoekie (Uncle Snoek) who could be 60 or 106 years old.

After passing through the hamlet of Napier - where buying real estate for weekend and holiday purposes has become very popular - we arrive in Bredasdorp at the quaint Shipwreck Museum. The town is quiet and a bit ghostly, what with it being out of season - the perfect time to travel in this region.

We get back on the road and travel to the picturesque coastal town of Arniston with its rustic and beautiful cottages. The wind furiously tugs at the waves, creating a million white foamy horses in full gallop on the surface of the sea. The colors created by the to-ing and fro-ing of the currents range from deep azure to day-glow green - a breathtaking sight.

We arrive at our next stop, the Agulhas Country Lodge in L'Agulhas at about 13:30. The little town is located at the southern most tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans actually meet. The popular - but completely false - notion is that the oceans meet at Cape Point, about an hour's drive outside Cape Town. Built from natural stone and set against the hill, Agulhas Country Lodge has spectacular sea views from nearly every vantage point. En-suite bedrooms each have private balconies and sea views.

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