Cape of Good Hope Trail
Cape of Good Hope, Western Cape
Introduction to the Cape of Good Hope
History Recorded history credits the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope to Bartholomeu Dias and his crew in 1488. However, artefacts from middens found in the area show that the region was known to and utilised by man intermittently since the Early Stone Age period some 600 000 years ago. After the first establishment at Table Bay in 1652, small exploratory expeditions were sent to the area. However, it was only after 1740, when it was decided to use Simon’s Bay as winter anchorage, that the area became permanently settled. Farms were granted to individuals who were prepared to eke out a living from the harsh landscape to supply fresh produce to the developing settlement at Simon’s Town. Up to the establishment of the Reserve in 1939, it appeared that no-one would make a success of any economic activity in the area and that most owners would be quite prepared to sell their property to be included in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, which only reached its present size in 1963. The Reserve was later proclaimed as part of the South African National Park system in 1998. The area was also extensively utilised by the military during the Second World War and various artefacts such as artillery shells (on view in the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre) and buildings found in the area bear testimony to this.
Flora The flora is typical of the southwestern Cape Floral Region, an area that has the highest level of species richness amongst the world’s temperate regions, rivalling even tropical rainforests in diversity. Over 1 080 species of plants have been recorded within the fenced 7 750-hectare area, which includes 24 protea, 116 asteraceae (daisy types), 49 ericas, 67 orchids and 63 species of restio or Cape reeds. Besides having 14 endemic species (species found nowhere else), the area also supports 68 of the 185 species endemic to the Cape Peninsula. Fauna Although fynbos communities are rich in plant species, they are nutrient poor and cannot support large numbers of game. Nevertheless, some antelope species that are indigenous to the area such as eland, grey rhebok, red hartebeest, klipspringer, grysbok, steenbok and duiker may be seen. The very rare and threatened bontebok and Cape Mountain zebra have also been introduced to afford them special protection. Caracal, grey and water mongoose, large spotted genet, polecat, Cape clawless otter, baboon, dassie (rock hyrax) and over 25 species of smaller mammals, which include rodents, insectivores and bats, are also present in the area. Over 250 bird species (including ostrich) have been recorded. Twenty-nine reptile species (lizards and snakes) occur, of which four are venomous. Although the risk of a snakebite is small, hikers should remain alert and under no circumstances must snakes be interfered with.
The Cape of Good Hope Hiking Trail follows a circular route of 33.8km through the Park, and takes two days (one night) to complete. It begins and ends at the entrance gate of the Park, where secure overnight parking is provided. It is essential to complete the Overnight Hiking register upon collection of key, which is obtainable from the Access Control Officer on duty. The same register should be signed upon departure. Please remember to hand in the keys.
Gates open at 08h00; no entry will be allowed before this time. Hikers to start the hike before 9am on the day of arrival to allow for enough time to reach the huts before dark.
All equipment and sleeping bags to be carried with you on your hike. Porterage is however available at an additional cost payable on arrival at the gate on the day the hike commences. Payment of porterage is via card payment. We do not accept cash.
For the 6 sleeper unit offer a drop off/collection of bags service is available at an additional cost of R250.00 for 6 bags/items or less. Thereafter it is R115.00 per bag/item over and above 6 bags/items, payable at the Main Gate
For the 12 sleeper unit we offer a drop off/collection of bags service at an additional cost of R500.00 for 12 bags/items or less. Thereafter it is R115.00 per bag/item over and above 12 bags/items, payable at the Main Gate.
Please note that we will only transport Backpacks (including sleeping bag attached to the backpack) of less than 6kg per bag. Plus only small 2-4kg carry coolers with 1 carry handle
- NO BIG COOLER BOXES
- NO BIG STORAGE BOXES (like those you buy at Pick and Pay, or the military storage boxes)
- No Small fridges and Gas cooking bottles.
- Duffels bags provided the sleeping bag is contained within the duffel bag as we do not transport loose sleeping bags
- No suitcases.
- No Black bags with bedding or any other items in them.
- We will not allow any transportation of the above items to the huts by yourselves or friends that are in vehicles. We return portered items to the Main Gate and they are kept in the office for you until you arrive. Please do not leave valuable items in your bag for this reason.
- No vehicles will be allowed to go up to the overnight hut under ANY circumstances!
Day 1, 13 km (6 hrs)
Main gate, start of trail
Overnight parking is provided at the main gate. Remember to collect the key to the overnight hut from the Admission Officer on duty. Please arrive prepared to set off before 09:00. Should you require braai wood, or if you have arranged for your overnight gear to be delivered to your hut, these additional costs/charges can be settled with the Admission Officer before you commence walking the trail.
After a short walk along the road of about 800 m, you will get to the Smitswinkel Bay view site. From here you can experience the first view as you look across False Bay at the bulk of the Cape Peninsula spread along the horizon to your right. The trail continues from the southern end of the parking area, leading you towards Judas Peak and De Boer.
From Judas Peak and De Boer, the trail heads southward around the base of Paulsberg (the highest peak in the area, being 367 m) and up to Kanonkop. At the summit of Kanonkop perches its namesake, the signalling cannon that dates back to the early days of the Second British Occupation of the Cape. It was used to signal Simon’s Town when ships arrived in False Bay.
Buffelsfontein visitor centre
To move on from Kanonkop, follow the trail from the cannon heading west along the ridge, which then bends southwards until a junction is reached. Take the right-hand path until the tar road, cross the tar road and the path will lead you onto the sand dunes, over the wooden bridge towards the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre. The Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre is housed in the old Smith’s Farm Homestead, originally built in 1809 and restored in 2002. It makes a great place to stop to recharge the batteries, refill water bottles and the like before continuing across to the Rooikrans area. A wide variety of information is available from the interpretive displays/ pamphlets on show here.
Optional detour: kanonkop to rooikrans via buffels bay
Should you prefer to skip the Visitor Centre and walk down along the coast via Bordjiesrif and Buffels Bay picnic areas (both good places for a quick dip and refill of water bottles), take the following path: From the cannon, follow the path that leads down and to the left (east) of Kanonkop. This path will take you down a small kloof to Booi se Skerm via the restored Lime Kiln. Walk across the Booi se Skerm parking area (look out for yellow footprints) to meet up with the narrow trail that winds its way along the coast to Bordjiesrif. At Bordjiesrif, walk across the parking area and up the road until you spot the next set of yellow footprints. Turn left to follow the path to Buffels Bay beach.
Walk along Buffels Bay beach to the tidal pool, along the road leading south to the small traffic circle. Continue with the path that leads from this traffic circle. This path will lead you along the coast via the Meadows area and winds upwards to connect you to the main path that follows the top of the cliffs to Rooikrans.
From the Visitor Centre the trail heads off at the far end of the parking area past the old Monterey cypress tree south of the centre, continuing across the sandy area before crossing the Buffels Bay road and ascending towards Matrooskop. After Matrooskop the trail leads downwards across the Meadows, an area with low, grassy vegetation: keep an eye out for eland, bontebok and grey rhebok. Looking towards Cape Point from above Antoniesgat, one can see the Rooikrans fishing ledges: one of South Africa’s most renowned fishing spots, where deep water immediately offshore makes catches of pelagic fish such as yellowtail and snoek possible. The path continues along the top of the cliffs, weaving a path to the Rooikrans parking area via Rooikrans view site.
From Rooikrans parking area, follow the yellow footprints across the tar to the path. Follow the path up the hill to the next tar road where you can either follow the road to the right (if you are staying in Erica hut for the night) or follow the road to the left if you are going to stay in the Protea or Restio huts.
Optional detour: cape point (return trip)
If you have at least two or three hours (and some spare energy) left before sunset, carry on with the path that continues across the road and up Da Gama peak. This path will lead you to Cape Point where you can join the other visitors to the park in viewing the famous Cape Point lighthouse before turning back and walking along the same path to your hut for sundowners! Cape Point is popularly believed to be the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, although the official meeting happens many kilometres to the east at Cape Agulhas. What does occur in the area of Cape Point, is the merging of the cold Benguela current with the warm Agulhas (some say Mozambique) current. Please be watchful of the baboons at Cape Point, especially if you have food in your packs.
At the three huts, Protea, Erica and Restio, the following facilities are provided: shower, toilet, solar lighting, bunks with mattresses, water, a two-plate gas stove and an outside braai place. Please ensure the fire is extinguished before sleeping or leaving your hut. The Erica hut and nearby observation point date back to the Second World War and formed the Dias Battery Observation Post that was manned by members of the 2nd Heavy Battery, Simon’s Town Command. This post was one in a series positioned around the Peninsula. The Protea and Restio huts (as well as the buildings on the summit of Da Gama Peak) were used by the 61st Coastal Defence Corps, who were involved with the development of South Africa’s first operational radar. This radar facility, as with many such facilities in the Second World War, was operated entirely by women.
Day 2 20.5 km (10 hrs)
Pegram’s point (1.9km from huts)
From your hut you need to follow the tarred road down to the boom that meets the main road. Cross the main road (follow the yellow footprints) to the path continuing on the other side. From here the path will direct you down to Pegram’s Point, situated across from the tarred road, from where you will follow it through the vegetation, making a right at the bottom to follow the trail along the coast to Platboom. Please depart the overnight huts by 09:00.
The trail winds along the coast to Platboom, where you will have a last chance to fill your water bottles with fresh water before the journey back to the main gate. Look for the yellow footprints across the tarred parking area to the path leading down the grassy area onto the beach, then walk to the shoreline and continue north.
Hoek van bobbejaan and entrance to blaaubergvlei
The trail will lead you along the coast (look out for yellow marked poles) past Gifkommetjie and further on to Hoek van Bobbejaan. At Hoek van Bobbejaan, which is approximately halfway to the main gate, the trail passes some Khoi-San shell middens, and the wreck of the Phyllisia is visible upon the beach where it ran aground in 1968. At this point the trail turns inland, so keep a sharp lookout for the yellow pole markers. The area of Blaaubergvlei was donated to the Divisional Council of the Cape by the Hare family. This area is closed to the general public and entry for hikers is by permit only. Part of this area was burnt during a wildfire at the end of 2002, so keep following the yellow markers which will help you find your way through the new vegetation. You will cross another road. Please continue along the path on the other side of the road (again: look out for the yellow footprints). Please note that the land and the buildings at the bottom of the road are private houses of the Hare family. Please refrain from picnicking on the grass near the buildings, as the residents prefer not to be disturbed.
After walking 4.9 km from the entrance to Blaaubergvlei, the trail links up with a circular day hike from Olifantsbos. Take the right-hand path at the junction (just past the ENTRY BY PERMIT ONLY sign), and then continue to Sirkelsvlei. This is the largest freshwater body in the area covering some 6 hectares and has a maximum depth of 1.4 m. Although it has no obvious inflow, the vlei rarely dries up as it is filled by underground aquifers. At Sirkelsvlei, there will be a second split in the path, one path leading right, the other leading to the left and down to Olifantsbos. Follow the path leading right to continue on the overnight trail towards Rooihoogte.
From Sirkelsvlei, walk the trail through the fields of restios covering the wide central plain called Smitswinkelvlakte, cross the gravel management track and then 300 m later cross a tar road (again: look for yellow footprints!). The path will then lead you up the rocky slope of Rooihoogte. At the summit of Rooihoogte (274 m) is a trig survey beacon from where panoramic views can be enjoyed.
Main gate, end of trail
You are now about to start the last leg of your journey. The path will lead you downhill off the summit of Rooihoogte, over a second hill, then down to the main gate and your vehicle. Please remember to return the keys for the overnight hut to the Admission Officer before leaving the park.
Do’s and don’ts
- DO NOT arrive after 09:00. It is important to set off on time to ensure completion of the hike before sunset.
- DO keep a safe distance from baboons.
- DO keep to the designated paths.
- DO NOT feed baboons. You wil be fined.
- DO NOT pick flowers or damage vegetation.
- DO come equipped for all weather.
- Do take your litter away with you when walking along the trail (including toilet paper/tissues and fruit peels).
- Do bring your own supply of water.
- No drop off of bags or goods at overnight hut by hikers; this can be arranged as an optional extra when booking.
- No vehicles permitted at overnight hut.
First phone the South standby team +27 21 780 9204 to let a staff member know of your predicament, or phone the Emergency Control number 0861 106 417 if no reply at the above number to pass the message on to a staff member.
- R444.00 pp.
- 1% Community Fund of total
- R55.00 once off per reservation.
Cape of Good Hope Trail