A rewarding finale to our trail is on offer today, with a series of undulating ascents and descents accompanied by stunning fynbos vegetation and seemingly endless ocean views. As today’s hike is within the wildlife-managed Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park, we also hope to come across some of the reserve’s larger wildlife, such as the Chacma baboon, bontebok, eland, ostrich and Cape Mountain zebra. From July through to November, we’ll also keep one eye looking seaward in the hope of spotting a whale or two. Towards the end of our hike, we ascend a well-visited path to the Cape Point lighthouse before continuing round to the Cape of Good Hope and Africa’s most south-westerly tip, a fitting place to end our trail along Hoerikwaggo, the mountain of the sea. From here we travel back to Cape Town where the trip concludes and the end of our Hoerikwaggo Trail experience.
The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, part of the greater Table Mountain National Park, is situated at the junction of two of the earth’s most contrasting water masses–the cold Benguela current on its west coast and the warm Agulhas current on its east coast. This contrast encourages a rich diversity of marine life including the migrating Southern Right whale, Humpback whale and Bryde’s whale. The area has excellent vantage points for viewing these majestic creatures during their mating and breeding season between June and November. Our visit should also provide us with some excellent wildflower viewing, as the reserve is an integral part of the Cape Floral Kingdom-the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. The reserve is home to around 250 bird species, as well as some herds of Cape Mountain zebra, eland, hartebeest and bontebok. We may also encounter troops of Chacma baboons, the only protected population of this species in Africa. The cliffs at the southern tip of the reserve tower more than 200 metres above the sea with three clearly defined promontories–Cape of Good Hope, Cape Maclear and Cape Point. Early European seafarers who circumnavigated the Cape of Good Hope include the 15th-century Portuguese explorers Bartholomew Dias and Vasco Da Gama, whose journeys led to the establishment of the Cape sea route to the East. In 1488, Dias named the peninsula Cabo Tormentoso, or the “Cape of Storms”. Portugal’s King John II later gave it the name Cabo da Boa Esperanca, the “Cape of Good Hope”. In 1580, Sir Francis Drake described it as “The stateliest thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.
Walking distance/time: 17 kms, 6-7 hrs; 10m net height gain.