The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is situated in Cape Town, South Africa and is a treasure trove of unspoiled beaches, magnificent scenery, picturesque picnic spots and timeless tales surrounding its history and landmarks. The Southernmost tip of the reserve ends in the majestic Cape Point which offers majestic views that will leave you breathless.
Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias first rounded Cape Point in 1488 and called it the ‘Cape of Storms’ due to its unpredictable weather and menacing storms. 10 years later, Vasco da Gama opened up a new trading route with the East and India by navigating the same route and Portugal’s King John 11 renamed it to the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ because of the considerable optimism the new route generated.
By night and in heavy fog, the rocky shores became a tremendous danger to passing ships and the coastline has become a ship graveyard with nearly 3000 sunken ships. The Portuguese built two navigational beacons, Dias Cross and Da Gama Cross to honour the early explorers and warn passing ships of a hidden danger. When lined up, the crosses point to Whittle Rock, a large submerged hazard, which has been the cause of many shipwrecks. In 1859, the first lighthouse was completed making navigation along this shipwreck littered coastline safer for the nervous traders. The lighthouse still stands at 238 meters above sea-level and is currently used as a centralised monitoring point for all the lighthouses in South Africa.
To access this historic lighthouse, visitors can either catch an exhilarating ride in the Flying Dutchman funicular or challenge themselves with a brisk uphill walk to the top. The lighthouse isn’t the only highlight you will encounter on top of Cape Point. The rugged rocks, sheer cliffs and panoramic ocean views will leave you breathless and the rich diversity of fauna and flora will keep you fascinated.
At the foot of the walk, the Two Oceans Restaurant offers the finest seafood and world class views. Shoppers are also in for a treat shopping for curios and mementos at the three curio shops.
While Cape Point is a definite must see on your itinerary, there are countless things to see and do in the park. A definite detour is a visit to cultural and historic spots like the monuments dedicated to the great explorers Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Diaz. Spend the afternoon swimming, barbecuing or lazying around at the picturesque picnic spots at Bordjiesrif and Buffels Bay tidal pools. Visitors to this World Heritage Site between June and October will be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of migrating Southern Right Whales that grace the Western Cape shores every year. These aren’t the only creatures to delight visitors in the park, Cape of Good Hope is abundant with local fauna and flora. The park boasts over 1100 indigenous fynbos species which is the highest concentration anywhere in the world. There are also an abundance of bird and mammals species, including the world’s largest antelope, the Eland, and the Cape Mountain Zebra. One of the best ways to enjoy the park is to get on foot and explore the many shipwreck, scenic and overnight trails.
No matter your age, fitness level or interests, there is something for everyone in this 7800 hectare park and its 40 kilometer coastline.