Africa > Southern Africa > South Africa > Western Cape > Overberg > Agulhas National Park
Agulhas National Park is in the Western Cape of South Africa. Cape Agulhas is the most southern tip of Africa. It is located in South Africa's Western Cape Province. It is not the most spectacular cape or the most popular with tourists, but as the Southern tip of Africa it still attracts a growing number of people each year.
The official location of the most southernly tip of the continent is 34°49'58" south and 20°00'12" east.
Agulhas National Park, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
Flora and fauna
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.
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.
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.
Generally hot and dry in the summer months with most rainfall occurring during the winter.
You can get there by car from Bredasdorp. You will reach Bredasdorp by travelling on the N2 highway, which runs from Cape Town along the east coast via the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth and taking the Caledon turnoff. It is about 100 km to Caledon and then more than 100 km further to Bredasdorp. All in all about 2 hours from Cape Town to Bredasdorp. The roads are good but narrow with a speed limit of 100km/h. Most of the intercity bus companies stop in Caledon. Alternatively, you can get there by a scenic gravel road from the fishing village of Gansbaai via the rural hamlet of Baardskeerdersbos and the Moravion mission village of Elim.
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.
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
Access roads to Rhenosterkop and Rietfontein are gravel roads.
The southernmost tip of Africa is dominated by three towns. Arniston, Struisbaai and L’Agulhas. Whale watching in the spring is fascinating as are the spring flowers. Fishing, scuba diving, and surfing are great in this part of the world.
Don't forget the Foot of Africa marathon held each year in October (14-15 Oct 2017).
Cape Agulhas is not as spectacular as the Cape Peninsula, but there are only few people and you can enjoy the lonely atmosphere far from all big cities. You might also see some whales.
Struisbaai is a coastal village boasting the longest continuous stretch of white sand coastline in the Southern part of Africa. Struisbaai also boasts the picturesque harbor, the fishing cottages of Hotagterklip, 2km north of town is a favorite subject with South African painters. Some of the old fishermen's cottages have been restored and are now protected as national monuments. You could also view the Cape Agulgas light house, one of the oldest in South-Africa, and the most southern tip of Africa, where the two Oceans, The Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet in the Aghulas National Park.
- 1 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
- 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.
- Walking on the beach.
- Body boarding and surfing outside the harbor.
- Swimming at the beach
- Fishing from the beach or harbor jetty.
- Climb up inside the lighthouse.
- Walk the "spookdraai" hiking trail.
- Take a ride through the Agulhas Nature Reserve.
- Just enjoy the blue sky country at its best.
- Awesome Charters, ☎ . Deep sea fishing
The Kapula Candles factory in Bredasdorp is famous for its African-style candles.
You can buy beautiful souvenirs at the "Shell Shop", Struisbaai, and watch the fishing fleet come in each afternoon and buy some fish off the boats.
You can eat great seafood at the Nostra Restaurant
In Struisbaai, the scones at the Lighthouse are exceptional, for fish and chips go to Pelican's at the harbour and the pizza's at Bella Luna are nice, but if you would like to eat with a view you can go to Nostra on the Struisbaai beach.
The 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
- Agulhas Country Lodge, Main Road, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. This lodge is 3 km from the cape and has good views of the raging sea and some shipwrecks. 8 en suite bedrooms – all with sea-view balconies and satellite television. single R1400-1600, double R1600-2000, breakfast included.
- The De Hoop Nature Reserve is 70 km away, but a very good spot to see some whales and to enjoy the beauty of nature.
- Cape Town and its attractions are not too far.
- The Garden Route in the east is very famous with tourists.
- Danger Point Peninsula and its hinterland, concentrated around Gansbaai lies to the West of Cape Agulhas. Apart from its marine attractions, (boat-based whale watching and shark-cage diving)it has vast tracts of unspoilt fynbos in public and private reserves.
- The Waenhuiskrans Cave in nearby Arniston is a stunning cave open to the ocean.