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Agulhas National Park

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Where two oceans meet

Agulhas National Park is in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Understand[edit]

Agulhas National Park is located on the southernmost tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. The park form part of the Cape Floral Kingdom UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Agulhas National Park, +27 28 435-6222, fax: +27 28 435-6225, e-mail: . Overnight visitors must check-in during office hours (M-F 7:30AM-6PM, Sa Su & public holidays 9AM to 5PM) at 214 Main Road, Agulhas (the last building on the right before the lighthouse). Guests arriving outside the normal business hours need to phone the park on Tel: 028 435-6078 at least one day prior to arrival.

History[edit]

The park was proclaimed in March 1999, but it will take a number of years in order to acquire and consolidate all the land that is to form the complete park.

Landscape[edit]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Birds[edit]

Damara Tern breeds at De Mond Nature Reserve and can be seen along the Struisbaai Boardwalk. Denham's Bustard, Blue Crane and Secretarybird are some of the larger, more visible species present, while Southern Tchagra, Large-billed Lark, Agulhas Clapper and Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cloud Cisticola and Grey-backed Cisticola are common amongst the smaller species.

This park hosts a variety of habitat types and great biodiversity of birds. Large expanses of coastal fynbos allow birders access to species such as Cape Sugarbird, Southern Doubled-Collared Sunbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird, and the patches of renosterveld hosts vulnerable species such as Hottentot Buttonquail and Black Harrier.

The historical Springfield Saltpans is a yearly haven for hundreds of Lesser and Greater Flamingo, the rare Chestnut-banded Plover, thousands of Little Stint, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, and some scarce species such as Eurasian Curlew and Red Knot. Along the Zoetendalsvlei and Nuwerjaarsrivier, waterbirds such as African Rail, African Purple Swamphen, Black Crake and an array of other waders occur frequently. Other raptors found in the area includes Lanner Falcon, Yellow-billed Kite, African Harrier-Hawk, African Marsh-Harrier, Martial Eagle, Booted Eagle, African Fish-Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard and Forest Buzzard.

Mammals[edit]

Not many terrestrial mammals occur, but the Cape Grysbok is something to look out for in the coastal fynbos. In the ocean you can look out for Cape Fur Seals and a variety of whales, dolphins and porpoises. The Southern Right Whales come to the bays to breed from August to November.

Vegetation[edit]

The floral diversity includes some 2,000 species of indigenous plants including 100 that are endemic to the area and over 110 Red Data species. The Agulhas Plain is an important component of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and richest of the six plant kingdoms of the world.

Many different vegetation types occur in this area. One of them is the endemic Elim (laterite) fynbos, restricted to a few patches in the region, the smallest land surface of any vegetation type in SA. Some of the species confined to this vegetation type are Leucodendron elimense spp. Elimense and Leucodendron laxum (vleirosie).

Limestone fynbos is the endemic-rich vegetation associated with the Bredasdorp Formation limestones. Lime-rich soils are mainly alkaline (pH values greater than 7,5, whereas other fynbos soils are acidic, with a pH value of 4,5 - 6,5) and represented by species like Mimetes saxatalis, Protea obtusifolia, Leucodendron meridianum and Watsonia fergusoniae.

Other vegetation types include acid sand proteoid fynbos, neutral sand proteoid fynbos, restioid fynbos and wetlands.

Climate[edit]

Generally hot and dry in the summer months with most rainfall occurring during the winter.

Get in[edit]

It can be accessed via the N2 highway, which runs from Cape Town along the east coast via the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth, turning off at Caledon and passing through Bredasdorp when coming from the west. From the east, leave the N2 near Swellendam and pass through Bredasdorp to get to Cape Agulhas.

Alternatively, you can get there by scenic gravel road from the fishing village of Gansbaai via the rural hamlet of Baardskeerdersbos and the Moravion mission village of Elim. The nearest towns are L’Agulhas and the fishing village of Struisbaai.

Fees[edit]

Valid until 31 October 2017:

  • South African citizens and residents (with ID): R37 per adult, R18 per child, per day
  • SADC nationals (with passport): R74 per adult, R37 per child, per day
  • Foreign visitors: R148 per adult, R74 per child, per day

Get around[edit]

Access roads to Rhenosterkop and Rietfontein are gravel roads.

See[edit]

  • Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. Daily 9AM-5PM (the last climb to the top of the lighthouse is at 4:30PM). The lighthouse was built to aid the early explorers on their passage of the rough seas off Cape Agulhas. 71 steps lead up to the top of the second oldest working lighthouse in southern Africa. Stone mined from the adjacent limestone quarry provided the raw materials for its construction. The building also houses a unique lighthouse museum. Remains of ancient stone fish traps used by the Khoisan people can be seen to the east of the lighthouse.
  • Southernmost tip of Africa
  • Southern Right Whale - between June and November
  • African Black Oystercatcher - an endangered species with a population of less than 5000 adults
  • Saltpans

Do[edit]

  • Rasperpunt Trail - A 5.5km circular hiking trail, with its start/end at the Meisho Maru shipwreck. Experience the coastline, coastal fynbos, ancient fish traps, fresh water fountains for the first half of the walk. Turn inland, cross the gravel road and work your way up the ridge with magnificent views of the Rasperpunt rock formations and the coastline. The route markers are numbered along the route and a self-guide booklet can be purchased at the reception.
  • Two Oceans Trail - Follows a circular route through the park. The name of the hiking trail is linked to a viewpoint on top of the Sandberg from which the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean can be seen. The trail passes through indigenous fynbos and is about 10.5-km long and takes most hikers 4-5 hours to complete the entire trail. There are two alternative routes - a 3-km (one hour) and slightly longer route of 4.5 km (2 hours) for hikers who may not wish to walk the entire route. The route is marked with coloured markers. A self-guided booklet can be purchased at the main reception office.
  • Spookdraai Trail - The trail starts at the beginning of the town of L'Agulhas. The trail takes the hiker on a short journey to explore the fynbos, birdlife and historical points of interest. Look-out spots highlight the southern-most towns, the sea and the point where the two oceans meet. At a relaxed pace the trail could be completed in less than 3 hours. An information pamphlets is available at the Tourism Office situated inside the lighthouse.

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

The nearby towns of L’Agulhas and Struisbaai provide various options.

  • Agulhas Rest Camp. 2-person chalets R1100-1420, 4-person chalets R1900-2560, 8-person lagoon house R3150-4050

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

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