Heidelberg in the Western Cape of South Africa can be found on the banks of the Duivenhoks River. It is situated on the N2 highway, 162 km from George and 274 km from Cape Town and is regarded as the western gateway to the Garden Route.

The little town of Heidelberg has a quiet and rustic atmosphere and is relatively unexplored by tourists. The Langeberg peaks provide the backdrop to the town, offering a great natural beauty. The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve is situated in the Langeberg Mountains and is 250 ha of forest, any nature lovers’ paradise. The Bosbok Hiking trail is a popular circular trail inside the Reserve.

A popular sea-side resort, Witsand, is only 40 km away and here you can enjoy all types of water sports such as deep sea fishing, whale watching, boating and swimming.

Places to Visit

Things to do and see:

  • Heildelberg Historical Walking Route – Heritage Tour Operators
  • Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve
  • Wildcliff Nature Reserve
  • San Sebastian Bay, Witsand
  • Blue Crane Farm Shop
  • Westfield Horse Riding
  • Barrydale Handweavers
  • Barrydale Cellar Wine Estate

Mostly self-catering accommodation and Guest/Game Lodges are found in and around Heildelberg.

Climate

Heidelberg experiences rainfall throughout the year with the most occurring in March and least in December.

Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 12˚C and 27˚C.

Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 2˚C and 18˚C.

Transport

Commercial Airlines offer flights to George Airport, 162 Km or Cape Town Airport, 274 km away from Heidelberg. Car hire facilities are located at the Airport and visitors will travel on the N2 Highway.

Festivals

February – Agri–Expo: Agricultural Exhibition.

More festivals can be attended in the surrounding areas, see Mossel Bay or George.

History

The small town of Heidelberg was founded on the river banks in 1855 when a new Dutch Reformed congregation was formed for the farmers between Swellendam and Riversdale. The town grew around the church and was named in honour of the German town, Heidelberg, because of the Heidelberg catechism practiced in the church.

In 1689 the explorer, Izaak Schryver, camped on the banks of the river and named it due to the number of doves living in the area, Duivenhoks ('dovecote').

In 1903 it became part of the railway network and quickly became a trading, railway and administrative centre for a prosperous farming community and an important transport link for tobacco, fruit, wheat and wool. The townsfolk today rely heavily on tourism for their income.

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