|Picture peaceful streets lined with oak trees, white-washed settler
cottages, and heritage roses; all lying in the benign shadow of
the Boschberg Mountain.
This mountain, considered by early travellers to be the most
beautiful in Southern Africa, is decked with waterfalls, pristine
streams; and forests of Yellowwood, Wild Olive and Cape Chestnut
among the eighty plus indigenous tree species which grow on the
A circular two day hike with an overnight hut with a view to
die for wends through this natural paradise, as well as many shorter
As well as a wealth of flora, the mountain is home to many species
of buck, and close to a hundred bird species, including the Knysna
Lourie, the Booted Eagle and the Crowned Eagle. Comparisons have
been drawn between this habitat and the Tsitsikama forests.
Established as a farm to grow fodder and food for the army by
Lord Charles Somerset, and proclaimed a town, named after him,
in 1825, Somerset East is now the hub of a rich wool, mohair and
ostrich farming area. Many of the farms also operate as game farms,
offering hunting, adventure holidays, and game viewing.
Activities and Attractions
Waters controlled by Bankberg Troutfishers Club boast some of
the best trout fishing in the country, both still water and river
fishing where insect life of naturally hatching mayfly and caddisflies
ensure good quality fish. With 5 still waters in picturesque surroundings
and the Naudes river, you could well find yourself being the only
one on the water for the day.
The Naudes river boasts a 90m waterfall with both Brown and Rainbow
trout in the pools below, amongst a national heritage site of
indigenous Yellowwood & Wild Olive trees.
The Old Parsonage Museum
Housed in an elegant restored Georgian parsonage, encapsulates
the history of the area. A new exhibition staged around the beam
on which the Slachters Nek rebels were hung in 1816 gives a sense
of immediacy and relevance to this tragic episode of the areas
history, and viewing this makes for a riveting experience.
The Walter Battiss Art Gallery
Housed in the old English officers mess which was once a
temperance hotel run by the Battiss family, and now contains the
largest collection of the grand old masters work in South
Africa. Battiss endowed the works and opened the gallery in 1981,
a year before he died.
The original part of the town, a gracious street with many national
monuments, swagged with heritage roses.
The nine hole golf course, on the way to scenic Bestershoek picnic
grounds, is said by many to be one of the most beautiful in the
country. Bowls, tennis, cricket, running and cycling clubs abound,
as do gyms and yoga classes.
Many of the farms offer hiking trails and mountain biking routes.
Birds are there to watch and enjoy wherever you go.
Paintball is available for the adventurous, and Sheercliff Adventures
a few kilometres out of town offers gorge gliding, rock climbing,
and a whole range of extreme sports.
Four libraries cater for the studious, and a gentle stroll or
a swift power walk around town will always burn up any extra energy.