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South Africa

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L’Agulhas, Cape Whale Coast

A'Gulhas

Cape Agulhas (“Cape of Needles”) is a rocky headland in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is the geographic southern tip of Africa and the official dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian oceans as is well known for the shipwrecks that happened in historic times.

The country’s second oldest working lighthouse was built here in 1848 in the Pharaoh style. You can browse the fascinating lighthouse museum and curio shop, or stop for a cup of tea. The koppie behind the lighthouse provides a panoramic view of where the two oceans meet, ships pass and Southern Right whales play in spring and early summer. The actual Southernmost Tip of Africa is 1 km west of the lighthouse and is marked by a simple cairn.

This windswept, ruggedly beautiful coastal plain at the southern-most tip of Africa, with its rich cultural and natural heritage, has recently been proclaimed as the Agulhas National Park with 8500 species of flowering plants and a bounty of birds in the wetlands. The water here is very shallow and L’Agulhas is known to be one of the best fishing grounds in SA. A fascinating historic and cultural legacy has been left here by the Khoi beach nomads, who lived along the Cape Agulhas coastline for many centuries. The well preserved shell middens and fish-traps are of interest to many a historian and archaeologist.

Hikes

Spookdraai Hiking Trail: Take two hours to enjoy the Spookdraai Hiking Trail. It teems with bird life and will treat you to many photo opportunities. The starting point for the trail is just before you enter Agulhas on your right.

Rasperpunt hiking trail: The 5.5km Rasperpunt circular hike begins just west of the lighthouse at the Meisho Maru shipwreck and takes you from the water’s edge up to the top of the dune via rocky sea pools and wonderful dune fynbos. See original Khoi fish traps, roughly 1.5km into the hike at low tide and see these incredible fish-catching devices. They’re dams constructed across shallow gullies that catch the fish as the tide goes out. From the top of the dunes takes you get a magnificent view and may spot dolphins and whales during whale season from June to November.

Visit:

Arniston (Waenhuiskraal) – the uniquely beautiful historic fishing village.

De Mond Nature Reserve (off the road to Waenhuiskrans) for fishing along the coast or in the estuary for grunter and cob. If you are a birdwatcher, see the Damara, Caspian Terns and Black Oystercatcher.

Read Country Life article on Birding in Cape Agulhas.

Read Wild Magazine article on an interesting accommodation option.

More info on the Cape Agulhas

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