10 Things I Love About Cape Point Nature Reserve

Cape Point – which exists within the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and, in turn, forms a key part of the vast Table Mountain National Park – is a truly iconic place in South Africa (and indeed the world…) to visit.

In fact, ever since I first visited it in 2014, I’ve been firmly adamant that if there’s one place in the Western Cape and South Africa at large that locals and tourists alike must visit, it is this fierce and hopelessly beautiful place.

These are ten main reasons (among many) why I love Cape Point so much:

  1. Its rich Cape History

There’s something inherently earthy and significant about this place. Not only has it played a key historic role in terms of global discoveries (first, Portuguese explorer, Bartholomeu Dias and then countryman Vasco de Gama served as Cape pioneers in search of a new trade route between Europe and the East – although it is believed the former missed Cape Point completely) – but its history also dates back to the days of the indigenous Khoi and San people.

I love the sense that Cape Point has existed for so long and, although it has caused a lot of human destruction (it wasn’t called the Cape of Storms for nothing… there have been many devastating shipwrecks – 26 to be exact – here over the years, two of which you can still easily discover within the reserve if you do the Shipwreck Trail), it has remained a popular, much visited place and part of our Cape coastline and will remain here long after we have all gone… There’s something really poignant about that for me.

  1. The two lighthouses

One of the main attractions when visiting Cape Point are undoubtedly the two lighthouses. The first, known as the Cape Point lighthouse, can be easily hiked up to (or you can catch the Funicular, if preferred) and is a popular viewing spot from which to truly soak up the wild, untamed Cape Point.

Original Cape Point lighthouse

Designed by civil engineer Alexander Gordon, the first and highest lighthouse at Cape Point was built in 1850, at the reserve’s highest point, some 238m above sea level.

However, because it was not the best place to build a lighthouse in the end, due to the low hanging cloud cover, another was built 87m above sea level at Dias Peak. This second, all-white lighthouse was completed in 1919 and at 19 million candlepower, to this day, it remains the most powerful light in all Africa.

You cannot hike down to this one but there is a separate hike/trail you can take that takes you as close as possible and offers wonderful views of both lighthouses in turn.

Newer Cape Point lighthouse
  1. The secluded, breath-taking Dias, Maclear and Platboom beaches

Although there are several secluded, incredible beaches at Cape Point, my favourite has always been (and will always remain) Dias Beach. It’s accessible via several flights of rather steep wooden stairs and although the hike is not an easy one, it is so worth it.

When you’re standing on that pristine stretch of beach, with the intimidating cliff faces rising up into the Heavens around you and the aqua waves crashing onto the shore, you will feel like you’re at the edge of the world, alone amidst nature’s crowning glory.

Dias Beach overlooking Cape Point lighthouse

As much as I love Dias though, it was also really lovely to stumble upon first, Maclear (a small but pretty little whisper of beach, set amidst natural fauna) and then Platboom beach on my most recent visit to the reserve.

Maclear Beach

Maclear is situated close to the Cape of Good Hope, another favourite spot of mine, whereas Platboom is indeed something of a secret find…

To avoid spoiling the fun, I won’t give away its exact location, though I will say this: it’s one of the most wonderfully desolate, endless dune beaches I’ve ever encountered. It feels like a bizarre cross between the Nevada desert and the most hidden place on earth, which only the wild animals (particularly the Cape Point ostriches) seem to have uncovered.

Platboom Beach
  1. The Two Oceans Restaurant and curio stores

This restaurant is, in every sense, a restaurant with a view and happily, also serves some incredible seafood cuisine. But if the good food isn’t enough to thrill your senses, then the setting undoubtedly will.

It is decidedly pricey but you are paying for an incredible view of the False Bay coastline and a restaurant set at the edge of a cliff overhang, overlooking the vast sapphire waters below.

It is well-situated near the edge of the main Cape Point facilities – and indeed, the south-western tip of Africa – and so, offers a meal with a seriously stunning view.

I have always wanted to visit this restaurant – which has existed here since 1995 – and recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to do so when I was endlessly spoilt with both a visit to and delicious meal at this amazing spot.

Summer gnocchi dish

Walk-ins are allowed but I would recommend reserving a table in advance, as the restaurant can get extremely busy, especially during the peak summer season and on weekends.

For more information, contact the Two Oceans Restaurant directly: (021) 780 9200.

I also really love visiting the two curio stores at Cape Point. They offer a range of unique Cape Point-themed gifts, keepsakes and clothing/jewellery/toys, as well as some authentic African wares.

(Also, outside the main entrance to the reserve, you will find local traders selling wonderful wooden animal carvings.)

5) The Chacma baboons

The troops of Chacma baboons, which frequent Cape Point, are one of my favourite things about Cape Point purely because they are such unique and endlessly naughty characters.

They are very mischievous and bold (recently, we saw them hopping on car roofs and stealing food straight out of someone’s hand near the food shop), so caution is strongly advised.

Please don’t provoke, feed or anger them in any way (as much for your safety, as for theirs…) and if approached by one, remain calm/quiet, motionless and avoid eye contact.

Chacma baboon

They are afforded special protection here so anyone found feeding them will most certainly be fined, as a ‘fed animal is a dead animal.’

Look out for them on the beaches during low tide, eating roots and insects along the side of the roads or even perched at viewing spots and near the main facilities.

6) For the rich flora and diverse fauna

I also really love Cape Point for the different buck, baboons, birds and of course, natural vegetation one can see here.

In fact, Cape Point is one of the richest, most diverse regions in the world and is part of the Cape Floral Region: the smallest, yet richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. Here, you can find some 1,100 indigenous species growing nowhere else in the world.

Scenic viewing spot

Inside the Cape of Good Hope Reserve, you can hope to spot: Eland, the endangered Bontebok, Red Hartbeest, Chacma baboons, Cape Point ostriches, Rock Hyraxes (or dassies), Cape Zebra and over 200 bird species.

Keep a look out for all the amazing fauna and flora whenever you visit this spectacular reserve.

7) The twin crosses

Bartholomeu Dias cross

I recently discovered (or rather, visited) the two crosses in honour of Portuguese seafarers, Bartholomeu Dias and Vasco de Gama. These are located relatively close to the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre (something I have yet to visit).

I really just like the simple beauty of them, as well as the fact that these two foreigners and brave sea explorers are still remembered here so centuries later. It’s a wonderful touch and they’re worth stopping by for some added historical insight.

Vasco de Gama cross

8) The Cape of Good Hope

You can either walk (along a relatively well-maintained wooden walkway) or drive to the Cape of Good Hope but either way, it’s definitely worth a visit (if only for some awesome photo opportunities), as it is Africa’s most south-westerly point!

Here, you can scurry about nearby cliffs, which tower above the famous sign, or explore the coastline. (It is pretty rough and rocky at this point so be careful.)

This is one of the places that made me feel most alive when I first visited Cape Point, and although it’s pretty much always windy here, it’s a truly wonderful place to visit and certainly adds another element to Cape Point.

9) Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre, Buffels Bay and Bordjiesrif

Here, you can find the nearby Visitor Centre, as well as nearby Buffels Bay and Bordjiesrif, which offer tidal pools, picnic- and braai-sites and more.

Buffels Bay recreational area

These are great places to explore, if you wish to further educate yourself on Cape Point, or simply want to enjoy a more relaxed day out at this amazing reserve, with friends and loved ones.

10) Fresh discoveries with each visit

Although you can certainly discover much about Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve even if you can only visit it for a few hours at a time – it is a place that will reveal something new to you each time you visit and is well-worth setting aside a whole day (or several) for.

Secret WWII radar station

If you’re brave enough to venture off the beaten track, then there are so many hidden wonders to discover here.

Hidden caves accessible only at low tide; stunning viewing spots and tucked away benches; secret radar stations from WWII; secluded beaches along the wild coastline; braai-, picnic- and camping-sections – and above all, trails and roads leading off to several historic and natural wonders alike.

These are just ten things I love about Cape Point – but there are so many others besides. Every time I visit (and I’ve been fortunate to have visited it twice now), I find some new reason(s) to love it and a fresh desire to return here… In fact, I’m actually quite helpless to resist its call to adventure and wild siren’s call.

Dias Beach, Cape Point

For more information on Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, please contact them directly on: (021) 780 9010, visit their website or email them at info@capepoint.co.za.

Please note:

  • Current entry fees for the Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve are R135 for adults and R70 for children.
  • Entry fees must be paid even if you are merely visiting the Two Oceans Restaurant.
  • My Green Card and Wild Card holders may enjoy free entry to the reserve.
  • Entry times for the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve change depending on the season but irrespective of this, you must exit by sunset. Late exit will result in a R500 fine.

 

 

Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Tamlyn Ryan is a writer and blogger, who runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust. Despite a national diploma in Journalism, her preferred niche remains travel writing. She is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and above all else, the great outdoors.

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4 thoughts on “10 Things I Love About Cape Point Nature Reserve”

  1. I’ve only been to Cape Point once and didn’t have enough time for a walk down to the beach. So you’re right, there’s new discoveries with every visit!

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