Elim, Western Cape, South Africa

Elim, is one of the most attractive and picturesque of the surviving old-time South African mission stations, only inhabited by members of the Moravian church.

The village dates back to 1824 when Bishop Halbeck of the Moravian Brothers bought the farm Volgelstruikskraal and established a mission around the old farmhouse. The little mission station was named Elim and gradually a village grew up.

This mission is probably one of the best preserved of the many Moravian missions in the Cape. It is a bit of a detour but is definitely one you should visit if you are interested in this aspect of history. Another interesting stop is the historic water mill, it is the oldest of its type in South Africa and is now a national monument.

Elim is renowned for its thatch roofs. Elim thatchers are sought after craftsmen and each year, just before Easter, all the houses are white-washed, the colour white being a symbol of purity and simplicity, also omnipresent in the church and an integral part of the village's lifestyle.

The most interesting way to get to Elim is to travel from Hermanus or Gansbaai on the R43, turn off to Elim and then, after visiting the mission station, continue on to Bredasdorp and Agulhas.

Alternately, if you are travelling down the N2 towards Cape Town, you could take the R319 (the Agulhas Road) and, after Bredasdorp, turn off to Elim and then on to Gansbaai and Hermanus.