Come discover a world of natural wonders at the tip of the African continent. You’ll see Agulhas National Park is good for your soul. By Arnold Ras
As a Capetonian and city dweller most of the year, I find it essential for my sanity to escape the urban jungle every chance I get. When the hustle and bustle get too much to bear, I head out to Agulhas National Park.
With its long stretches of rocky tidal pools, incredible fynbos landscapes and fresh ocean air, Agulhas National Park is my sanctuary. Here I truly forget about life’s many demands and focus on nature’s exquisite natural wonders. No matter how many times I return to Agulhas, there are certain activities that never get old.
#1: That lighthouse!
Make this your first stop as I always do. The excitement of arriving at Agulhas is one thing, but the prospect of climbing all the way to the top of the historic Cape Agulhas Lighthouse… I’m like a kid in a candy store. The lighthouse, the second oldest in southern Africa, has been in operation since 1849, guiding explorers through Cape Agulhas’s rough waters. After 71 steps and much anticipation, the top awaits with incredible 360˚ views. Tip: The steps are rather steep, so ladies are recommended to wear trousers.
#2: Between two oceans
Follow the beautifully designed boardwalk along the beach and past coastal fynbos to reach the southernmost tip of Africa, where the cold Atlantic and warm Indian oceans meet. Here a cairn marks the exact spot (34° 49’ 58″ south and 20° 00’ 12’’ east). Don’t leave before taking a few creative pictures, but make it snappy as there’s normally a queue of people all waiting to capture the moment. For some reason this spot always evokes a sense of appreciation… To be thankful for South Africa’s many wild miracles and every opportunity we have to safeguard our fauna and flora.
#3: Secret wonderland
As a toddler, and inspired by my grandparents’ seaside tales, I adored rock pooling. To this day, I find great pleasure in exploring Agulhas’s hundreds of pools, each home to its own secrets. Whether a sea star, colourful urchins, scurrying crabs or tiny fishes seeking refuge, there’s always something to enthrall. Take your time – there’s no reward in rushing – and see what fascinating creatures make their appearance. For families, rock pooling is a great way to bond, but it’s also an ideal opportunity to unwind and de-stress when you are your own company.
#4: Like a fish to water
It’s summer and what better way to soak up the sun than spending a few hours at one of Agulhas’s many swimming spots? Pack a cooler box with picnic snacks and drinks, throw out a blanket and take in the splendour of Agulhas’s beauty. The relatively calm waters are also popular with paddler enthusiasts, so make sure you bring all your gear. I usually find a quiet spot around lunchtime so I can fill up and cool down.
#5: What a wreck
For some reason, shipwrecks grip the imagination… Who was on board? What exactly happened? Are their souls now lost at sea? Agulhas is home to several shipwrecks scattered along the coastline, from the Arniston to the Zoetendal. Whether you think it’s spooky or intriguing, you cannot help but wonder what went down on those stormy nights when the rough seas around Cape Agulhas became these ships’ final resting place. The remains of the Meisho Maru (pictured above) can be seen close to the cairn at the southernmost tip.
- Accommodation: Agulhas Rest Camp with two or four-bed chalets; Lagoon House situated on a peninsula to the west of the Suiderstrand enclave; Rhenosterkop Cottage and Rhenosterkop Family Cottage; Rietfontein Guest Cottages; Bergplaas Guest House.
- Gate times: 07:00 – 19:00
- Nearest centres: Caledon is 97km away (about 1 hour); Cape Town is 210km away (about 2,5 hours).
- How to get there: From Cape Town, follow the N2 along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth. Turn off at Caledon and pass through Bredasdorp when coming from the west. From the east, leave the N2 near Swellendam and pass through Bredasdorp to get to Cape Agulhas.
- Contact: +27 (0)28 435 6078
- SANParks Central Reservations: +27 (0)12 428 9111, [email protected]
Daily conservation fees
- South African citizens and residents with SA ID: R37 per adult, R18 per child
- SADC nationals with passport: R74 per adult, R37 per child
- Foreign visitors: R148 per adult, R74 per child
Wild Card members enter at no cost.