Greyton – The 3-Part Serial Adventure! (3/3: Greyton as Launchpad)


(an SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent)

Part 3/3 – Greyton as a Launch Pad

Nestled up against the Riviersonderend (“River Without End”) Mountains, Greyton gives the feeling of being in a rather pretty Overberg cul-de-sac. But it’s actually a small hub: you can easily switch from lazing in country bliss to launching a regional adventure.

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Genadendal
The best day trip, in Your Correspondent’s opinion, is to Genadendal, an extremely important site in SA’s history. It was the first mission station established in this part of Africa – in the early 1700s, by the Moravian church. Whereas in Greyton they have horses, in Gendadenal they have donkeys, which munch the grass around the beautiful mission-era buildings, including a massive 19th century church. The church dominates Church Square, appropriately enough, which also features a museum, a restaurant, a fascinating paper-making demonstration center, and – best of all – a mill house, with a working water wheel, which is fed by a lovely, ancient mill race. Your Correspondent loves working water wheels and ancient mill races. (Note that the steps which lead up to the mill house are fashioned out of old, worn-down grindstones – wonderful.) Genadendal was officially segregated from Greyton during apartheid, and the two communities, though only about 5 min apart by car, seem to have little interaction. If you’re staying in Greyton, start a trend – visit Genadendal.

Greyton Nature Reserve Walks and Hikes
At the end of Greyton’s main road, where the tar runs out and the gravel begins, no less than a dozen walks and hikes branch up into the foothills, leading to places as far away as McGregor. The Greyton birdlife alone makes spending a few hours on a trail worthwhile. Don’t forget your hats, sunscreen and water. Look out for sugar birds, weavers, sun birds, the black-shouldered kite, and – if you’re lucky – the Blue Crane, SA’s state bird. (On our last trip, we saw a flock of about 30 of the big, graceful aviators.) The Greyton Tourism website has an excellent list of short walks and long hikes: check them out at Greyton.net.

Caledon
Caledon is one of the Overberg’s biggest towns, a major milling and beer brewing center 30 min from Greyton. It gets a mention here because of its curiosity value: it’s the region’s own slice of Nevada, home of the Caledon Casino and Spa. There didn’t use to be a casino, and the spa then was an unspoilt retreat, a series of natural jacuzzis in the hills fed by a hot spring. Today, thanks to the casino, the jacuzzis are full of men wearing gold medallions. Like many rural casinos, Caledon’s is inappropriately ostentatious; its novelty wears out in about 1/2 hour, during which time, you can lose R20 at the one-armed bandits. On the plus side, it is well air-conditioned, and open long after Greyton’s restaurants have closed, for a late-nite burger and chips.

Hermanus
Of course, there’s also Hermanus, about an hour’s drive away, which you won’t want to miss if you’re visiting SA in September – October, when the Southern Right Whale visits the coast in great numbers. Hermanus sees hundreds of whales come and go each year – and tens of thousands of tourists with them. Come to think of it, Greyton may be the perfect headquarters for a whale-watching mission. You can navigate the crowds, see the whales (which are magnificent), then retreat to your peaceful country haven for a quiet supper, and get a good night’s rest.