TAKE A HIKE

Hike along the beach from bay to bay

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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.

Source: suid­kaap­fo­rum.com

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

ROCK AGAMA

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