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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Agulhas National Park and Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

The Meeting Point of Two Great Oceans

Originally named Cabo das Agulhas (Cape of Needles) by the Portuguese owing to the treacherous reef that has claimed many ships over the years.  It was later (because of the French influence) renamed L'Agulhas.

The Cape Agulhas lighthouse was built in 1849 and is the second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa.  

Visit the Lighthouse Museum
We ventured into the lighthouse to find a lovely museum (opened in 1994) of historical local artifacts and we dared to take the rather steep climb to the top. This day was extremely windy, so the visit was short and sweet at the top.

Agulhas National Park

This windswept rocky coastal area was declared a national park in 1999.   There are various accommodation options for visitors to explore in the link above.

Address214 Main Rd, Agulhas, Bredasdorp, 7287
Area209,6 km²
Closed ⋅ Opens 9AM Sun
Established14 September 1998

It is precisely 71 wooden steps to get you to the top of this beauty.

Spookdraai is a well known circular hiking trail (which means ghost spot) takes you along the coast and back to the entrance at Agulhas National Park.  

There are a few legends to explain the reasons for its name, one being of a beautiful woman who survived a shipwreck and constantly comes to visit the local guest house.  The other is related to a man who what decapitated in a gruesome accident at this point.  Whichever soul has still not found its peace, it is rather exciting venue for any ghost chaser to date.

Tip of Africa

Visit the southern most tip of Africa and grab a selfie at the monument.

It was a pleasure to visit this location to see the remarkable improvements that they are busy with to encourage more visitors to this destination.  There is a lovely 1km coastal board walk from the lighthouse all the way to this point.  A very large and stunning artistic replica of South Africa and Namibia can be seen and enjoyed by the tourists.

This monument indicating the Southern most tip of Africa was the main attraction.

A view across the rocky bay toward the lighthouse shows the rugged limestone coastline which has claimed more than hundred and fifty ships known to date.

The Shipwreck at Cape L'Agulhas

On 16 November 1982 a small Japanese fishing vessel, Meisho Maru No 38, did not survive the stormy conditions and ran aground.  Fortunately all the crew managed to swim to shore and survive the ordeal.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Stone Age Fishing Traps at Rasperpunt of Cape L'Algulhas

It is always a very special moment when you stumble upon something beyond unique which represents our very special South African heritage.  The historical Fish Traps at Rasperpunt - Cape L'Algulhas - is dated back to the stone age (as seen below) and a must-visit when exploring the most southern tip of Africa.

Looking at this photograph, the southern most tip is seen in the distance top left,
in relation to the fishing traps in the foreground.
Look further
Every person who visits the Southern Tip of Africa spends hours at the light house and the photographic podium, not realising that a couple of hundred meters away is something just as unique and special to explore.

Getting there
The weather did not play it's part during our visit.  Rain and howling westerly winds made it difficult to endure the 5.5km circular Rasperpunt hiking trail with a toddler and two teenagers.  We drove to the nearest fishermans' parking and with a quick and comfortable board walk we were delighted to witness this very special historical place on our earth.

Know Before You Go
The best time to visit and witness these fish traps is at low tide.

How does the Old Khoi Fish Trap work?
At the time when fish was more abundant, the Khoi fishermen would wait for the tide to rise and the fish would follow with the incoming tide.  As the tide drops, the fishermen would encourage the fish towards the shore, herding them into a trapped state as the tide drops.  Each 'fish trap wall' was built to help enclose a smaller area to make the catching process easier.

As seen in the image above, each Fishing Trap consisted of many layers of packed stone walls.  Each stone wall was carefully packed by the Khoi fishermen, just high enough to dam the fish up during the outgoing tide.

Fun for the whole family
Rasperpunt also makes for a fun and safe family stop for the youngsters to enjoy the water.

More Information to enjoy along the way
Should you chose to enjoy the coastal hike, there are 34 points of interest and signage to alerts hikers of their unique historical value.

Other Sources:
SANPARKS - Cape L'Algulhas National Park
Peter Chadwick - African Conservation Photographer
Arnold Ras - Wild Card Magazine : Top 5 Things to do in Algulhas National Park

Friday, July 6, 2018

De Mond Nature Reserve Cape L'Algulhas

No trip to the L'Algulhas National Park will be complete without making a day-trip out of visiting this wonderful location which is known as Cape Nature De Mond Nature Reserve.

A quick thirty minute drive to reach this location from Struisbaai will get you here.  There is an entry fee at the gate, where you can get your map and information regarding the reserve.

Cape Nature does offer accommodation here, but it only one house that accommodates 8 people with no electricity or services.

You can choose to take a short walk to the end of the board walk, or you can make a lovely beach hike out of it, and venture right to the river mouth and around to return on the opposite side of the river back to the entry gate.

Heuningnes River Mouth at De Mond Nature Reserve

We were limited by the crowd and would have loved to complete the full circular walk around the mouth to the beach and back.  We recommend that you pack a lovely picnic bag to enjoy the 7km sterna trail which passes through the riverine vegetation, dune forest and stabilised dunes before following the coast to the river mouth and salt marshes.

The reserve has a rich and varied bird life.  De Mond Nature reserve provides a unique destination for the breeding grounds of the threatened Damara and Caspian Terns. Photo credit to Sharon Brink , Heyne Brink , Christna Steyn

Damara Tern at De Mond Nature Reserve

Thank you to Peter Chadwick for motivating us to visit yet another superb destination after reading his article in the Spring 2017 Wild Magazine.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Algulhas National Park Renosterkop Accommodation SANPARKS

We wanted to stay at the main camp which was located closer to the Southern most tip of Africa, however this was fully booked.  Renosterkop is a satellite accommodation offered by SANPARKS which is about 30min drive away from the hustle and bustle of more familiar tourist side L'Agulhas.  This being the Southern most tip of Africa and the L'Alhulhas Lighthouse

It was a pleasant experience a step back in time and to live as the old farmers did in these wonderful refurbished farmsteads.  SANPARKS have done a wonderful job in making us comfortable and for the visitor to have a comfortable stay.   Juanita did not enjoy it as much as I did, because at the time there were many fire ants and thorns, making it difficult for her and the toddler to enjoy a fun walk outside.  Our mountain bikes and shoes got many thorns in them, having to clean our shoes every time we entered the chalet. 

The other downside of this spot was that we had to spend at least 30 minutes to get to the closest localisation, like Struisbaai and or Cape L'Algulhas.  But on the upside, you can be sure to know you are away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful time away and absorb the sounds of silence.

The old Salt Pans provided a wonderful photographic environment, but are no longer in use.  It is a must-stop location if you feel like being creative and have your camera on hand.

The history of RENOSTERKOP states that they were the pioneers of stock farming and that their accommodation was built from probably the eighteenth century using mainly materials from the wrecked ships.