Go Ahead and Explore Elim

Traveling on the winding open road towards Elim, it’s a town many seem to overlook. With its whitewashed houses and thatched roofing, why explore anywhere else.

Coming back from our trip to Napier, Elim had long been a place I wanted to visit.

The 53km trek alongside open farmlands gave way to how beautifully the conserved historical town really is.

Peaceful, tranquil and simply quiet, the dirt roads welcome you with sights of different colour houses far ahead in the distance.

Visiting Elim

Elim is the third Moravian Mission station in the Cape and was founded in 1824. With its neatly bright cottages; many of which date back to the 19th century, it’s hard to believe that they were made from mud-brick and thatched roofing. Although, there are also more modern renditions with brightly painted walls and corrugated iron roofs.

Elim, which means ‘place of God’, might lie in the middle of a particularly sparsely populated area, all roads in Elim lead to the beautiful Moravian Mission Church. Luckily, someone was nice enough to open up the church so that we could browse around.

Don’t be shy to walk around. History is literally on every corner.

With my camera in hand, it was hard not to capture every inch of the picturesque town; with buildings left in its remaining state to old petrol pumps left to rust.

Everyone greeting you with a nod while you invade their reserved town.

Even laughing at childhood memories when Courtney made this exact same structure carted together with a plastic crate, wheels that are found lying around, planks to keep it together and some rope used as the steering.

All this walking makes one thirsty so it’s just fair that we say hi to Joyce at Waterfront Coffee Shop. It also acts as the information office and Joyce knows everything! I mean, she’s lived here all her life.

Try her infamous carrot cake enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a few stories to tell. She’s one helluva woman with many traits and skills.

The Moravian community consists of farmers, farmworkers, and artisans. Elim thatchers are particularly skilled and renowned for their craftsmanship and the area is becoming well known for the cultivation of vineyards and the export of fynbos (the rarest in the world).

The entire village of Elim has been declared a National Heritage Site and I hope it stays that way.

Upon leaving, we stopped at a wine estate called Zoetendal. They’ve been in existence for the last two years and we felt compelled to stop and get a wine tasting in.

Little did we know that they craft their own Beckers beer too! What a treat, indeed!

Travel Tips

Getting there: It’s roughly 188km from Cape Town along the N2 onto the R316 and then turning on the R43 which takes about 2 and a half hours. We traveled from Napier so the distance was much shorter.

When to go: You can visit the town anytime you’re like. It’s quite busy during the Elim Wine Festival in November.

Must-see sight: Visit the local heritage center where you’ll find further information about the town’s history.  Of further interest is the village’s restored corn mill, built in 1828, which has the largest wooden water wheel in the country. And if you’re into wine, visit Black Oystercatcher wine estate.

Until the next adventure.

Stephanie Marthinus Blog