Africa Travel Articles
Cape Point Nature Reserve
Author: Sandra Mallinson
Date: December 2012
Just an hour's drive from the bustle and buzz of downtown Cape Town lies a large and peaceful reserve: Cape Point – one of the most scenically spectacular parks in the whole of South Africa.
If you’re looking for the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean, you’re in for a minor disappointment. That honour belongs to Cape Agulhas (which is also the southernmost point in Africa) but don’t let that put you off: a daytrip to Cape Point is filled with dramatic scenery, fantastic hiking trails, deserted beaches and reach-for-your-camera views. There's a sprinkling of big game in the reserve too, some great bird watching, and in spring you might catch a glimpse of a whale close to shore.
By far the most popular attractions in the reserve are the two peaks right at the tip of the peninsula: Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.
From the car park it’s a short but fairly steep walk up to the lighthouse at Cape Point but if you find the word “steep” intimidating, you can always take the funicular. The views are immense and you'll get great panoramas of the ocean, both peninsula coastlines, dramatic cliffs and the clean white sweep of Dias Beach far below.
Afterwards you can continue to admire the ocean views over the rim of a wineglass from the wooden deck of the Two Oceans Restaurant. It's a great place for lunch but you can also take a picnic down to Dias Beach where – unlike the lighthouse – there’s a good chance you’ll have the whole place to yourselves.
For that classic Cape Point photo in front of the “Most South-Western Point of the African Continent” sign, either drive to the Cape of Good Hope or hike along the cliff-hugging footpath - it'll take about 45 minutes each way.
Hiking in the Reserve
While the ocean views at the point are undeniably spectacular, the thousands of visitors who are whisked straight down to the tip of the peninsula by coach see only a fraction of the amazing natural beauty and wildlife of the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
There are hiking trails on both coastlines: the Atlantic side is mostly flat beach walking with huge ocean views and the occasional shipwreck while the False Bay coast has an exciting path that winds along cliff-tops, across footprint-free beaches and through thick fynbos (the Cape’s unique vegetation). Along the way you’ll see lizards sunning themselves on the rocks, a variety of birds including ostrich, and there’s a good chance of spotting bigger game too - baboons, bontebok, eland and mountain zebra are all commonly seen.
While you can do these trails by yourself, we'd strongly recommend using a professional guide. Not only will this take the guesswork out of a Cape Point hike but you'll also learn all about the fynbos and wildlife as well as local history - and where to have lunch safely without the notorious baboons joining in!