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Cape Agulhas – at the end of Africa

21 March 2021
Agulhas Ocean House – at the end of Africa
21 March 2021
Pigcasso – a piggy painter
25 March 2021
 

I assumed that Cape Agulhas is just a stop. I will set my foot on the most southern tip of Africa, see the second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa, swim in the Indian Ocean and drive on. I came for one night, but I liked it so much that I came back to stay there for longer, for more adventures and impressions. 😀

Allan and Sheryl, the owners of the hotel Agulhas Ocean House (my review of this place you can find here), had a huge impact on my return, for sure. They encouraged me with stories about shipwrecks, 14 km of beaches, stingrays in the port and resident ghosts. During my first visit. I did not expect so many attractions in a small town! In fact, two towns, because right next to L'Aghulas, where I lived, there is a settlement called Struisbaai with picturesque, traditionally white washed fishing huts. In both towns, time slowed down and the residents are nice and sociable. Interestingly, the houses here don’t have upstream fences or bars on the windows, which is common in South Africa. It’s like everyone has forgotten which country we are in. According to the locals, it is simply safe, and I felt that way too.

The ocean was so close, there are even two! Officially, the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet at Cape Agulhas. I imagined to see a border insight, on one side the turquoise of the Indian Ocean, on the other a deep Atlantic navy blue, but this is not the case here. There is a monument for it that forces us to believe in the International Hydrographic Organization, the Department of Oceanography at the University of Cape Town and the South African Navy. These three organizations have approved the border. However, this division may still spark controversy because it was determined by humans. The oceans and marine life are influenced by sea currents, and many oceanographers claim that the waters are mixed all the time and we (humans) cannot draw a single correct parameter.

However, everyone will agree on one thing. The ocean in this place is very tricky. A needle-sharp reef, storms with huge waves, and the fact that the compass does not distinguish true north from magnetic north make this place extremely dangerous. Over the centuries, many sailors have learned about it. To this day, about 150 ship wrecks can be found. Some parts of the ships were washed ashore, others found their resting place underwater. Eventually, after a series of accidents, it was decided to build a 27-meter lighthouse. On March 1, 1849, it was lit and shows the way to this day, thus becoming the second-longest operating lighthouse in South Africa (the oldest and longest operating is located in Cape Town).

However, the lighthouse’s lights did not save the crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Meisho Maru No. 38, which was operational around 1982. This wreckage is now quite an attraction. It can be reached in two ways. By car, passing the most southern point of Africa with a monument or on foot. I definitely recommend the second option because it's only a two kilometres walk. The path starts near the lighthouse and leads through a small fynbos bush with very nice views and a nice breeze from the ocean. I was lucky because during my walk, when I got to the wreckage there was a low tide so I could get really close. Additionally, when I had warmed up sufficiently because of the African sun, on the way back to the hotel I jumped into the so-called tidal pool which are swimming pools with ocean water. There are three swimming pools like that in L’Agulhas. It’s a super cool refreshment, to be honest.😁

 

Another unforgettable experience in Cape Agulhas is searching for the ghost during the climb of the surrounding hills. The path is called Spookdraai (ghost alley). It’s a two-hour hike with great views of the coast. It is not demanding. The rule is to follow the 28 signs with the image of a ghost. Whose spirit are we looking for? A young girl who fortunately survived the marine catastrophe and lived in one of the limestone caves (which we literally pass). Unfortunately, she died lonely, and because she was very social, she continues to "entertain". Apparently, she had a beautiful voice so if you’re “lucky” you can hear her singing sometimes. I haven't met her (fortunately 🙄). There are more stories about local ghosts. It seems to me that even I could be the hero in one of these stories. This is because, while relaxing on the hotel balcony late in the evening, I noticed an owl standing in the middle of the street. Without hesitation, in a white bathrobe, I ran to take a picture of her. A few people saw me ...

As a big fan of South African’s wines, I couldn't miss Wine on Main, the southernmost liquor store. However, it is not an ordinary shop. For the price of R85 (about USD6), we can order wine tasting with matching homemade ice cream. The paring of pinotage wine and chocolate ice cream was my absolute favourite one. 😎 I should save the ice cream and wine for dessert. For starters and the main course, I’d suggest, (recommended by locals) L'Agulhas Seafood or Zuidstekaap. I was not disappointed. They serve delicious fish in both places, and sushi (L'Agulhas Seafood).

There is no coincidence that the seafood is fresh if there is a marina next to L'Agulhas. Right in the charming fishing village of Struisbaai. It is best to visit in the morning when fishermen return from night fishing. Then you can see really nice fish and stingrays coming for breakfast. Stingrays are said to recognize the sound of arriving boats and eat fish leftover overboard. They like the company of people and they even allow you to feed them, which is a truly amazing view.

 

One of the stingreys, named Parrie, is a real celebrity. She or he has even a FB account @ParrieTheStingray. According to the locals, this huge, much larger than others, stingray has lived in Struisbaai for over 30 years. It also gained fame in Cape Town, when for some time it enjoyed the curiosity of visitors to its aquarium.

 

There is a small beach by the marina. I recommend going further along the wooden promenade. At the end the 14 km long beach with beautiful dunes begins. By the way, it is the longest beach in the southern hemisphere. The best part is, dip your feet in the Indian Ocean and just keep walking. You will probably meet fishermen fishing from the shore and no one then, only the ocean and fine and soft mountains of sand, bearing the remains of wrecks.

There is another place on the coast in this area which is worth visiting. It is located in Arniston, approximately 40 minutes' south coast drive towards Mossel Bay. I went there after checking the conditions of the tides. When there is a low tide it’s possible to squeeze yourself through a small hole in the rock to the Waenhuiskrans Cave. Unfortunately, I was a bit late. It was already too dangerous and I didn’t want to take the risk of getting stuck in the cave. Anyway, it was worth looking into the hole and seeing this amazing spectacle of ocean waves hitting the rocks.

Cape Agulhas was my discovery of the year and my greatest surprise. As a city lover, I didn’t expect to be able to spend two weeks in small fishing towns without getting bored. Moreover, I was really sorry that it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful corner of Africa. I recommend this region to everyone and I hope to come back soon. Actually, I have to come back, because there is one more attraction on my bucket list I didn’t have time to visit. This attraction is big game fishing. It was always my dream to catch a big one. I have this feeling I will definitely be able to do this someday in the African waters close to Cape Agulhas.

 

See my adventures at the Cape Agulhas in the video below:



 
Useful information:

  • Cape Agulhas is about 225 km (3- hour drive) from Cape Town. It is worth visiting the whale town "Hermanus" on the way. Make a stop for wine tasting in one of the local wineries. I strongly recommend Creation.
  • Hotels In the area I recommend: Agulhas Ocean House - an extraordinary boutique hotel. Check my review: here. Arniston – near the Waenhuiskrans cave Ocean Boutique Guest House in Struisbaai. Both in Agulhas and in Struisbaai there are a lot of guest houses, apartments and hotels. There is even a descent camping. In the "normal" (without covid) high season which is from November to March, it’s recommended to book in advance.
  • More places to visit nearby:
  • Black Oyster Catcher- the vineyard with restaurant and farm. It is famous for its unique wine due to the climate and the local soil on which grapes are grown (40 km north of the Cape Agulhas).
  • Shipwreck Museum in the town of Bredasdorp (40 km north of the Cape Agulhas). It is best to call in advance and confirm that it’s open.
  • Rezerwat De Hoop – on the way towards Mossel Bay. More about the reserve and its attractions: here.

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