There are so many beautiful places in and around Cape Town, but the Cape Point Nature Reserve is hands down the most beautiful. I was absolutely blown away by how beautiful this reserve was – from the fields of fynbos through to the white sandy beaches with sparkling blue water.
My first visit to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (the actual name of the reserve) was on a whim, after looking for something to do a Sunday. We took the leisurely drive through the reserve and went up to see the lighthouse (the hike up is no joke!) and then walked to Dias Beach.
The second time I went was with a group of friends to do the overnight hiking trail. This involved being blown away (literally on the second day) by the different landscapes in the reserve for two whole days! It was tough, but so worth it!
Visiting Cape Point Nature Reserve
Did you know that Cape of Good Hope is one of two world-renowned landmarks within the Table Mountain National Park? The other is Table Mountain. The reserve is part of San Parks, so if you have a Wild Card then entrance will be free for you.
The Cape Point entrance fee is:
- South African residents (with an ID): R76 per adult & R39 per child
- SADC Nationals (with passport): R152 per adult & R76 per child
- Foreign visitors: R303 per adult & R152 per child
South Africans, remember to take your ID along! They will check, and will make you pay the foreign visitor rate if you don’t have it with you.
Highlights of the Cape of Good Hope include visiting the lighthouse (you can take the funicular up if you can’t manage the hike – a return ticket is R85 per adult or one ticket is R65), visiting to Cape Point, going to the Two Oceans Restaurant, visiting the beaches and of course the numerous hiking trails throughout the reserve.
There are a few short day hiking trails at Cape Point, these include Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail, Cape of Good Hope Trail, Antoniesgat Trail, Gifkommetjie, Kanonkop, Phyllisia Circuit and the Shipwreck Trail. Read more about these various hikes here.
I’m pretty sure that the two day overnight hike that we did included most of the above hikes.
The park is also home to over 250 species of birds, buck, baboons and Cape mountain zebra. We saw ostriches, buck and baboons while on the hike. There are many picnic spots scattered around the reserve, along with walking paths, tidal pools and isolated beaches – so many places to explore or to just sit at and enjoy.
This really is one of those places that you can visit over and over again.
The Cape Point overnight hike
Back onto the reason for this blog post…
The Cape of Good Hope hiking trail follows a circular route of 33.8km and takes two days (one night) to complete. It starts and ends at the entrance of the park, where you are able to leave your car. Once arriving, you can choose in which direction you would like to start with first.
The hiking trail
We decided to go with the longer of the hikes first, a 20km+ trail. The trail starts with a few up and downhills before opening up onto flat fynbos. It then trails along the coastline, passing the shipwreck and along a beach. Besides from the first few kilometers and then the last bit to get to the huts, the trail was quite flat. It was a relatively easy hike, just quite long. There are also a few sections where you are walking on beach sand, which makes it a bit harder. Try not to get beach sand in your socks (if that’s possible?) – the rubbing heals aren’t fun.
We found a nice spot along the rocks along the coast to stop for lunch, but if it’s worth walking a bit further until you get to the beach and stopping there for a good rest.
You can add an extra 10-12km to the trail by walking around Cape Point and taking a few loops along the trail. We found the routes long enough, so kept to the normal trail.
We started our day one hike at 8am and finished at around 4pm, so it took us about seven hours to complete.
The second day was the shorter, 13km+, hike but it was much tougher! This hiking trail is very rocky and included a lot of ups and downhills. It was tough and the 50km winds that picked up halfway through only added to the toughness.
The views though, were unbelievable. This hiking route is a lot more scenic than the first days route. For most of the hike you are walking near the edge of the cliffs, with stunning views of the ocean and the rest of the reserve. Make sure to take lots of breaks to take in the scenery.
We started the second day’s hike around 8:30am and got to the cars at about 3pm, so about 6 and a half hours in total. We ended up doing some detours, so what was meant to be 13km ended up being close to 15km.
Hikers sleep in one of three huts: Protea, Restio and Erica. We stayed at the Protea and Restio huts which are joined together, each with six bunk beds. The bunk beds have mattresses, but no bedding.
The huts are located along the side of a rather big hill in the reserve, making it quite a trek to get to them. At the end of a 20km+ hike the last push to the huts took every bit of strength…but as we all like to say after we’ve done a hard thing…it was worth it. From the hut you can see the ocean on both sides of the reserve, meaning that we got to witness both the sunset and the sunrise!
At the Protea and Restio huts there was a large kitchen area with sink, gas stove and all of the crockery and cutlery that you would need. It also had two big table benches where we could all fit around. Outside is a braai area. There’s also a separate bathroom with shower – with hot water! The water was heated with gas, so all nine of us were able to have a hot shower. It was amazing!
We were there at the end of May and I was quite worried that we were going to freeze in the huts. But, while it was really cold outside after the sun went down, the inside of the huts were really warm. They are well insulated!
Overall, we were all impressed with the accommodation. It was clean, warm and offered everything that we needed.
What to take with
You will have to bring along all of your own equipment and sleeping gear. You either carry everything yourself for the duration of the hike or opt for the SAN parks team to drop if off for you. They offer a drop off / collection service for R220 for 6 bags/items per hut. They will also drop off your wood for free. We made use of this service for them to drop off our sleeping bags and cooler bags with food, then each carried a small backpack with our water and snacks for the day.
Make sure that you have the following:
- Good hiking or walking shoes (don’t be like me and walk in brand new/non-worn in shoes)
- Water bottles (you can refill at the hut for the second day)
- Snacks for the hike
- Food to cook for dinner and breakfast
- Weather-proof gear for all seasons, even in summer
- Map (they give you one at the entrance)
- Sleeping bag
- Flip flops or slippers to change into after taking off your hiking boots
- Camera / phone for taking photographs. There is no cellphone reception (#DigitalDetox for the win) so put your phone on airplane mode to save the battery.
Other details about the Cape Point Nature Reserve hiking trail
The overnight hiking trail costs R318 per person, along with the park entrance fee (mentioned above). You will need to book beforehand. Bookings can be done via the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre on 021 780 9204 during office hours.
The main gate of the Cape Point Nature Reserve opens at 6am (October to March) and 7am (April to September). You will need to start the hike early to make it to the hut before dark. They won’t allow you to start after 9am.
You need to have a moderate fitness level for this hike. While the trail isn’t that demanding, the long distances can be tough with quite a few ups and downs.
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