Elim is a tiny village situated amidst the fynbos on the network of minor tarred and gravel roads in the southern interior of the Overberg. It is a pretty place known for its main street lined with old whitewashed and mostly thatched cottages.
Originally a Moravian Mission station, Elim was founded in 1824. It claims to have the oldest working watermill in South Africa, the wooden water wheel of which is one of the largest in the country. It’s very laidback, quaint, and atmospheric.
An amble along the main street while engaging in friendly conversation with the locals gives an insight into the rural lifestyle of the inhabitants.
The church precinct is picturesque with a peaceful atmosphere and there’s a restaurant in the watermill. They serve traditional food like bobotie, milk tart, and malva pudding.
The town grew significantly after the emancipation of slaves in the Cape on 1 December 1984, as the Moravian church opened its doors and provided refuge to the free slaves who were largely destitute. The Genadenal and Mamre mission towns saw similar growth.
Look out for
The village - The main reason to visit Elim is to experience the village. Park at one end of the main road, and take your time strolling along it. It’s the best way to take in the atmosphere of the place. The old Moravian Church is at the top of the main street and was completed in 1865; it still houses the oldest working clock in the country. To the rear of the church is a precinct where you’ll find the water mill that was built in 1828.
Geelkop Nature Reserve - The nearby 450ha reserve is named after the mass of yellow flowering plants, Leucadendrons in particular, that cover it in spring. There’s a drive offering good views, and a half-day hiking trail.
Unique wineries - The area around Elim has several wineries, some of which are open to the public. This is the southernmost area of wine production in the Cape, and aficionados reckon that the climate here allows grapes more time to ripen and develop a balance between acidity and sugar levels, producing particularly good wines. For those keen on tasting, Strandveld Wines are open Mon-Fri 08h00-17h00. Quoin Rock Winery is open for tasting and sales by appointment only as is Black Oystercatcher.