The most beautiful reserves “Cape Point”
With vistas so breathtaking they seem hijacked from Hollywood’s “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and with an edge-of-the-world allure astounding enough to render nearby urban civilisation almost inconceivable, Cape Point is beyond a doubt one of South Africa’s most magnificent sightseeing and tourist attractions.
Though most well known as the dramatic point of collision between Africa’s surly currents, this internationally renowned geographic phenomenon is worlds more than just towering cliffs and rocky escarpments that overlook a watery crux.
Falling within the Good Hope Section of Table Mountain National Park, the Cape Point Nature Reserve is 7750 hectares of wild coves, shimmering tidal pools, fynbos-covered valleys and diverse flora and fauna. There are 250 different bird species that make the area home, 1100 indigenous plant species whose roots burrow deep into the soil, a broad assortment of animal life that ranges from the nearly extinct bontebok to the deadly Cape cobra, and one phantom ship that reportedly haunts the boiling waters below.
Recognised as a World Heritage Site, the immaculately preserved stretch of land and the ocean that fans out from its base are also responsible for generating a hearty slice of South African maritime lore. Notorious for its tumultuous weather, the seas surrounding Cape Point’s most southwesterly tip – a fairly narrow finger of craggy cliff – are also a macabre and watery grave to 26 sunken ships.
Nicknamed the ‘Cape of Storms’ by the legendary explorer Bartholomew Diaz, this dangerous section of coast was a welcome navigational point by day, but a menacing obstacle course of fog, hidden rocks and raging thunderheads at night. As a result, countless sailors and trusty vessels have met their deaths.
Though, thanks to the construction of a lighthouse on the reserve’s highest peak in 1859, the waters have become far less lethal. And these days, the trek up to this life-saving beacon of guidance is one of the most popular activities at Cape Point.
Visitors can either walk their way up the medium-grade path (roughly a 15-minute hike), or can opt to take a ride up to the lighthouse via the convenient and environmentally-friendly Flying Dutchman Funicular.
Regardless of the mode of transit, the views from the lookout points surrounding the lighthouse and on the nearby summit are, arguably, unrivalled. Endless ocean extends in every direction, and mystical silhouettes of distant coastline fade into the horizon. On a clear day, it’s possible to see all the way to False Bay; though, a signpost that points in the directions of some of the world’s far-away cities – New York, Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, for example – gives you the impression that, if not for our own limitations, you could glimpse the skylines beyond.
A short walk away, a second, revolving lighthouse looks out over the jagged rock face below. Having usurped the responsibilities initially delegated to its older counterpart, this structure was built later – in 1914 – to resolve problems brought on by rising mist, and is still currently functional. To date, it is the most powerful navigational beacon on the South African coast, emitting three flashes every 30 seconds.
Once you’ve hiked out to either marker, and conquered the quest to Cape Point’s pinnacle though, there are still countless other activities to indulge in.
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