I’m back again. And again. And again.

go! - - Travel Cape Of Good Hope -

The re­serve re­ally be­comes fun when you re­turn and drive all the back roads where tour buses aren’t al­lowed – the big buses are re­stricted to Cape Point Drive. There are multi-day hikes to do, day hikes, moun­tain-bike routes, look­out points, pic­nic spots, empty beaches where you can read and build sand­cas­tles, swim­ming spots, places to scuba-dive, surf spots, fish­ing spots and even overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion.

1 Swim, braai, fish and have fun

If you’re keen on a so­cial day with fam­ily and friends, stick to the False Bay side of the re­serve where the sea is gen­er­ally calmer and there are more fa­cil­i­ties. You can swim in the tidal pools at Bord­jies­rif (or slightly fur­ther south at Buf­fels Bay), spread your towel on a lawn and light a braai fire. To get to Bord­jies­rif, drive 6,8 km from the en­trance along Cape Point Drive and turn left just be­fore the Buf­fels­fontein vis­i­tors cen­tre. The Da Gama mon­u­ment (pic­tured left) is si­t­u­ated here – it serves as a nav­i­ga­tional bea­con in con­junc­tion with the Dias mon­u­ment to the south-west, so that ships can avoid the no­to­ri­ous Whit­tle Rock in False Bay. You can walk (or drive) north from Bord­jies­rif to Booi se Sk­erm, a pop­u­lar surf spot. Buf­fels Bay is the big­gest pic­nic and braai spot in the re­serve and it can get busy dur­ing the sum­mer months. For­tu­nately there’s plenty of space so you’re al­most guar­an­teed to find some pri­vacy. You can fish here, but if you’re a se­ri­ous an­gler you’ll head straight to Rooikrans (see #6).

2 Ex­plore Oli­fants­bos

Turn right onto Link Road about 2 km from the en­trance. You’ll drive over the des­o­late Smitswinkel Flats, on your way to Oli­fants­bos on the western “wild coast” of the park. Along the way, about 2,7 km af­ter the turn-off, there’s a park­ing area where moun­tain bik­ers of­ten leave their cars. This is the en­trance to a 5 km jeep track that heads south through fields of restios, past rock for­ma­tions and herds of ze­bra to where it links up with the tar road again. If you carry on with Link Road, you’ll reach a T-junc­tion. Turn left and drive to the pic­nic spot at Oli­fants­bos. This is also the start of the pop­u­lar Ship­wreck Trail (5,6 km there and back; about an hour). The coast­line around Cape Point is lit­tered with the wrecks of ships that met their demise on the reefs and rocks over cen­turies. The main cul­prit is a rock called Al­ba­tross, which lies about a kilo­me­tre off the beach at Oli­fants­bos. It’s named af­ter the Al­ba­tross, which sank in 1863. It’s about a 2,8 km walk along the beach to the wreck of the Nol­loth, a cargo ship that sank in 1965. Along the way you’ll hike past the most prom­i­nent wreck on this coast­line, the Thomas T Tucker (1942), which is now home to screech­ing kelp gulls and cor­morants. Once you’ve reached the Nol­loth you can hike back along the beach, or head in­land on a 7,5 km trail past Sirkelsvlei back to Oli­fants­bos. Sirkelsvlei is the big­gest body of fresh wa­ter in the park, re­plen­ished by an un­der­ground source. It’s a great spot for bird­watch­ing: Or­ange-breasted sun­birds and grey-backed cis­ti­co­las are plen­ti­ful and you might even star­tle a shy Hot­ten­tot but­ton­quail into re­veal­ing it­self in the low bushes south of the vlei.

3 Drive (and hike) a cir­cu­lar route 4 Si­lence guar­an­teed

If you’re re­ally not keen on com­pany, drive along Cape Point Drive to the turn-off to Plat­boom (about 8 km from the en­trance). As you drive down the hill you’ll see the Cape of Good Hope far in the dis­tance. Plat­boom is pos­si­bly the most un­spoilt and qui­etest beach along the whole penin­sula. Ostriches, cocky ba­boons and a herd of eland hang out here, but not many hu­mans. You can walk along the beach in ei­ther di­rec­tion. Head south – af­ter about half an hour you’ll see a ruin. This was once a cot­tage where the fa­mous fyn­bos ex­pert Hugh Tay­lor spent his child­hood hol­i­days, and where his love of the veld was kin­dled. From Cape Point Drive, turn onto Cir­cu­lar Drive – a 7 km tarred loop through the veld – and keep a look­out for signs point­ing to Gifkom­metjie and Hoek van Bobbe­jaan. At Gifkom­metjie, the views are beau­ti­ful to the north over the Kom­metjieberg and it’s where you’ll find the start of the Gifkom­metjie hik­ing trail – a 5 km loop. This is a ruggedly beau­ti­ful sec­tion of the park, not vis­ited by many peo­ple. You’ll walk along the coast with the wild, blue At­lantic on one side and dune­fields on the other. The chance of see­ing any­one else is re­mote – maybe an ostrich or three.

5 Cape of Good Hope day hike

Less than a kilo­me­tre from the en­trance you’ll see a park­ing area on your left. This is the Smitswinkel look­out point, and the start of the two-day Cape of Good Hope Hik­ing Trail (see p 57). Day vis­i­tors can hike the first part of the trail along the coastal cliffs, around Pauls­berg (368 m), the high­est moun­tain in the re­serve, un­til you reach the old can­non at Kanonkop. You’ll have views across False Bay the whole time. If it’s clear you’ll be able to see Hangk­lip on the far side of the bay. It’s about 11 km to Kanonkop and back and the hike should take no more than six hours.

6 Land a fish from the deep blue

Drive south along Cape Point Drive. At the traf­fic cir­cle, fol­low signs left to Rooikrans. Park and walk down the nar­row foot­path through fyn­bos and along the cliffs. You might be lucky to see (and hear) south­ern right whales be­low you. This is holy ground if you’re a se­ri­ous fish­er­man – one of only a few places in the world where you can catch deep-wa­ter species like yel­low­tail and galjoen from land. Make sure you have the right fish­ing per­mit be­fore you cast. ( Visit daff.gov.za or con­tact 086 000 3474 – the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­ing – to find out what li­cence you need, and buy it at your near­est post of­fice.) You don’t need to be an an­gler to visit Rooikrans. The view to the north, over Buf­fels Bay in the di­rec­tion of Pauls­berg, with Swartkop in the dis­tance, presents yet an­other photo op­por­tu­nity.

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