TAKE A HIKE
Hike along the beach from bay to bay
Walk from Stilbaai to Jongensfontein on the Southern Right Trail.
SOUTHERN RIGHT TRAIL, STILBAAI Christmas Day, Stilbaai. Few things could make my cousins and I groan as loudly as an adult uttering these words: “We’ll hit the trail tomorrow morning at 6.30.” It was a tradition: Every December holiday, on Boxing Day, the dads and kids would hike from Stilbaai to Jongensfontein along the beach. I hated it as a child, but now I can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny summer’s day. The trail is mostly along level terrain, with rock pools along the way. Waves break on one side and canaries and bulbuls chatter in the fynbos on the other side. You can hike from either side, but I’d suggest you start in Stilbaai so you’ll tackle the sandy sections in the early morning. You can cover good ground while everyone is still feeling fresh. We sometimes hiked the other way, from Jongensfontein, and believe me, when I saw that long beach stretched out in front of me as a ten-year-old, my spirit dropped into my sandy North Stars. The trail “officially” starts on the beach at Morris Point in the Skulpiesbaai Nature Reserve. However, you can cut out about two-thirds of the beach part if you start in the small parking area near the Roland Rudd bird hide at the Stilbaai water treatment works. The hide is a great little spot – give yourself an extra half hour to have coffee here. There’s an island with reeds in the middle of a dam, where weavers like to gather, and a strategically placed branch where white-breasted cormorants and African darters perch to dry their feathers. Other birds like yellow-billed duck, little grebe and red-knobbed coot patrol the water. From the hide, cross the road to the sea. On the beach you’ll see historical Khoi fish traps made from stone 1 , which worked with the tides. When the first Europeans arrived, they noticed how successful the traps were and extended them. The area was declared a National Heritage Site in February 2018
and the traps are maintained by a group of volunteers. At low tide, it’s fun to look for klipfish, crabs and other marine animals with your kids. From the traps, the trail goes along the beach around Noorkappers Point. On top of the reddish dunes you’ll spot the thatched units of the Bosbokduin Private Nature Reserve. Follow the rocky path along the dunes to a deserted beach about 2 km further. Continue for another kilometre to another small beach. These beaches aren’t really deserted: You might see the odd fisherman with a line in the water, and a beach house or two. There are farms that border the beach – I wish I were lucky enough to own one. After about 5 km you’ll reach two chalets in the Jongensgat Nature Reserve. They’re called Bosbok and Grysbok and they’re available to hire from R1 000 per night ( agrisell.co.za). In front of the chalets, go explore a cave in the rocks. Mind the dassie droppings…
See that point in the distance? It’s called Leven Point 2 and Jongensfontein is just around the corner – and so is a soft-serve ice cream. We never hiked all the way to Jongensfontein – my mom and my aunts would be waiting in the small parking area at Koppiesbaai, a few kilometres from town. I used to be so happy to see them waiting there, but now I wouldn’t mind hiking a little further, past Jongensfontein, to Vermaaklikheid, Witsand… As far as my feet can take me. Distance: It’s about 11 km from Skulpiesbaai to Jongensfontein. If you start at the bird hide and end at Koppiesbaai, it’s about 7,5 km. Time your hike for low tide. How fit do I need to be? The route is mostly along level terrain and there are two longish sections along the beach. Be prepared: There’s no shade or potable water along the route. Take a hat, water and sunscreen. Where? To get to Skulpiesbaai, follow the main road through Stilbaai Wes to the harbour, then turn right onto the dirt road to Morris Point. To get to the bird hide (GPS: S34.39215 E21.41348), follow the main road and turn right in Wege Street – you’ll see the waterworks on your right. Cost: Free.
BLOOMS AND BIKINIS. When you walk this route in spring, the coastline is covered in carpets of pink vygies, yellow sour figs and white and yellow daisies.
SEA URCHIN SHELL