The Cape of Good Hope Trail: A night at the end of the world
It’s a magical feeling to sit on the verandah of your hiker’s hut at sunset – a view that stretches for miles – watching the stream of day visitors weaving their way out of the park and knowing that you are staying firmly put; only miles of fynbos around you, your braai fire flickering and the sound of baboons bellowing in the distance.
The Cape of Good Hope Overnight Trail wends its way along the coastal edges of the Cape Point Reserve, punctuated by an overnight stop in a secluded hut near Cape Point. The route covers approximately 33km, with a shorter leg of about 13km and a longer leg of around 20km. It is circular, beginning and ending at the reserve’s main gate, and can be hiked in whichever direction you wish.
False Bay vistas
If you have clear Cape skies it is advisable to do the shorter, more dramatic route that skirts the False Bay side of the reserve first, as this boasts spectacular vistas that extend for miles. Walking along the coastal cliffs towards a very distant Cape Point, the trails of jade fynbos and ivory sand leaking into the ocean make for some magnificent photographs.
The trail works its way over a series of rocky outcrops and buttresses, descending into dry grassland dotted with lichen-stained rocks and tiny wild flowers. When the sea is out of view, there’s still plenty to keep one amused, with curiously shaped rock formations and the occasional blue-tailed lizard basking in the sun.
At a point, the path drops down to sea level and meanders along the shore. From here you can see your overnight huts perched on a not-so-distant ridge and the thought of a cold sip of something at sunset is guaranteed to put a spring in your step!
The overnight huts are magnificently situated, offering sweeping views of both False Bay and the Atlantic coast. I recommend staying in Erica Hut, the smaller and more out-of-the-way of the three (the other two huts, Protea and Restio, are also lovely but are larger and less private). This appealing little cabin is perched quaintly on its own ridge with a panoramic view that stretches from False Bay on one side to a distant Kommetjie on the other. From here you feel as if you are at the very tip of the end of the world, with infinite ocean on either side of you and the whole of Africa unfolding ahead.
Meandering along the Atlantic
The longer hiking leg – along the Western side of the reserve – follows a much flatter but equally exquisite piece of coastline. From the hut, the trail snakes through a carpet of fynbos scrub, descending towards the beach where the landscape becomes flat and sandy and meanders along the water’s edge. As you walk, ostrich and bontebok browse the dune vegetation and the trail trundles along a rocky shore until you reach an old shipwreck, marooned on a secluded, windswept beach. Here, it takes a turn inland and continues through a sea of Restio grass and brilliant Cape Snow everlasting flowers. Over uneven hills and rocky gullies, the trail wends its way through a spectacularly remote landscape, all the way back to the main gate.
What an incredible Cape experience – a patchwork of vivid land- and seascapes neatly rolled into two days of happy meandering. Right on our doorstep.
For more detailed information about the hike, rates and entrance fees, please visit the SANParks website.