Elim › Western Cape › South Africa
Elim - the oldest village in the Strandveld
Elim is the oldest village in the Strandveld and can be found 30 km from Gansbaai on the way to Bredasdorp via a freshly resurfaced road that makes for safe travelling. The entire village is a national heritage site and its rich history began with the Moravian Missionaries who established it in 1824. Many of Elims residents descend from the slaves who found their way to the village after slavery was finally abolished in 1834 and a memorial close to the church bears testimony to this.
Today the Moravian community consists of farmers, farm workers, artisans and the Elim thatchers who are renowned locally and internationally for their craftsmanship. Lime washed cottages with neatly manicured thatched roofs line the sleepy main road and friendly residents curiously share smiles and wave at travellers who drive through the village. Make your way to the village centre where the thatched Moravian church that houses the oldest working clock in South Africa, still echoes the heartbeat of the community as does the sound of the Elim Brass Band that performs there every Sunday at 10:30. Take a stroll through the Heritage Centre and Museum that showcase photos and maps outlining the community’s way of life and its people.
The Elim water mill boasts the largest waterwheel in South Africa and although it has been refurbished many times it is currently not functional. What makes this mill unique is that this one is ‘underslung’ which means the water force acts below the shaft and not above. A restored stone mill is available to local millers to grind their flour.
Elim forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom where some of the rarest indigenous plants in the world spring forth from the earth here. The proximity of the Atlantic and Indian ocean has resulted in a climate that is perfect for the cultivation of bountiful vineyards that bear fruit for some of South Africa's top wine estates. The estates in the area all offer wine-tasting, sales and tours by appointment.
The strong sense of community that runs through the town-folk’s veins has resulted in the establishment of major assisted living centres for people with severe disabilities.Contact the Elim Tourism Office for more information about accommodation, restaurants, shops and events when planning your next trip to the greater Gansbaai area.