Cape Point Nature Reserve in South Africa is home to the southwestern tip of Africa. This incredible place offers you some magnificent views overlooking the wild ocean and stunning nature. It is a sight to behold and a place like no other. A day trip to Cape Point Nature Reserve is simply something you must do when in Cape Town. With its pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and some breathtaking views there are so many things to do and see in Cape Point. It is almost impossible to see all of it. However, we have made this guide to exploring Cape Point Nature Reserve so that you are able to see as much as possible on a day trip to this amazing area.
Cape Point road trip
Cape Point Nature Reserve is a huge area on the southwestern tip of Africa. There are so many things to see that it might be difficult to do it all. Therefore, we have made this perfect road trip itinerary for you to follow on your next trip to Cape Point. By visiting these 10 stops you are able to explore as much of this incredible nature reserve as possible.
1. stop: Cape Point Lighthouse
Your first stop in Cape Point Nature Reserve should be the famous lighthouse. By starting your road trip here, you are able to avoid the bigger crowds that arrive around 10:00. The first lighthouse of Cape Point was built in 1859. But due to its location so high above the ocean clouds often concealed it. Therefore, a new lighthouse was built on a lower cliff closer to the ocean. Nowadays, it is the old lighthouse that you are able to visit.
When you arrive at the parking area of Cape Point Lighthouse you can either follow the path on foot to the top or embark on the Flying Dutchman Funicular. We would recommend you walk to the top. It is a bit steep, but you are rewarded with some stunning views from the many viewpoints on the way to the top. We used about an hour to walk to the top and down again – with plenty of stops along the viewpoints. When you reach the lighthouse, you are rewarded with an incredible panoramic view of the ocean and mountains. From August to November, you might even be lucky enough to spot a whale.
2. stop: Cape of Good Hope
The second stop of the day is possibly the place Cape Point has become most famous for; the Cape of Good Hope. This is the southwestern tip of the African continent. You can either drive from the lighthouse to Cape of Good Hope or walk along the boardwalk from the parking area at the lighthouse. This hiking trail is about 3,5 kilometers out and back and takes you along the beautiful Diaz Beach. This is definitely one of the hikes worth taking on this road trip around Cape Point Nature Reserve.
3. stop: Pegeam’s Point
From Cape of Good Hope (or the parking area of the lighthouse if you went on the hike), you must drive towards Pegeam’s Point. Here you are rewarded with a beautiful view overlooking a stunning beach.
4. stop: Platboom Beach
Afterward, you should drive toward Platboom Beach. On your drive, you pass the Diaz Cross that was erected in honor of Bartolomeu Dias. He was an explorer who reached Cape Point in 1488. He actually named the area Cape of Storms – which seems very precise nowadays as the coast is lined with shipwrecks.
Shortly after the cross, you will reach Platboom Beach. This is probably one of the most unspoiled and wildest of the beaches in Cape Point Nature Reserve. This sandy area is quite deserted unless you count the resident ostriches and baboons. It is therefore a perfect place to go for a walk along the beach or enjoy your lunch.
5. Buffels Bay
The next stop on your Cape Point road trip is Buffels Bay. This was definitely one of our favorite stops along the route. Buffels Bay offers a stunning beach with powder-soft sand and a more gentle ocean than elsewhere in the area. If you brought your bathing suit this is absolutely the place for it. Another plus of Buffels Bay is that the water tends to be a bit warmer on this side of the peninsula. The beach is also perfect for a stroll – there are a lot of birds in the area so keep your eyes open!
6. stop: Bordijesrif
The sixth stop on the route is Bordijesrif. But before you get there you pass Da Gama Cross. This is another cross on the Cape that has been erected in honor of explorer Vasco da Gama. After the unsuccessful quest to reach India by Bartolomeu Dias Vasco da Gama was to complete the trip back in 1497. Like so many others he also experienced trouble getting around Cape Point. However, after 3 attempts in 5 days, he managed to pass.
When you arrive in Bordijesrif you will find a nice tidal pool. This is one of the better tidal pools we have visited during our time in South Africa. A dip is therefore perfect if you brought your bathing suit. If you haven’t gotten to lunch yet there are also a few picnic areas perfect for the occasion.
7. stop: Booi se Skerm
From Bordijesrif you should drive toward Booi se Skerm. On your way, you pass Black Rocks, as well as Lime Kiln. From Booi se Skerm you are rewarded with a stunning view of the areas – you can even look over at Buffels Bay.
8. stop: Gifkommetjie
Your next stop on the route is Giftkommetjie. To reach this part of the nature reserve we would recommend you drive along Circular Drive. This drive takes you more inland where you might spot even more animals such as baboons and ostriches. When you arrive at Giftkommetjie you will find several viewpoints. From there the view is absolutely incredible. This is the perfect area to wander a bit around to take in the beautifulness and marvel at the many cliff formations.
9. stop: Olifantsbos Beach
When you are done exploring the viewpoints at Giftkommetjie you should drive along Circular Drive toward Olifantsbos Beach. This is the longest of the drives from one stop to another, however, it is all worth it. During your drive, the landscape changes a bit as you are driving inland rather than along the coast. You are therefore rewarded with some incredible views of the mountains and beautiful flowers.
Olifantsbos Beach has become famous over the years due to the many shipwrecks you will find along the coast. The drive to the area is therefore well worth it if you want to go on a hiking trail to see some of these shipwrecks. Another plus of the area of the peninsula is that you might be able to spot the eland, which is the world’s largest antelope.
10. stop: False Bay
The last stop of the day is the viewpoint overlooking False Bay. You will find this viewpoint on the right side of the main road on your way back to the main gate. Here you are rewarded with a stunning view of False Bay. If you visit between August and November this is one of the best places to spot whales.
Wildlife in Cape Point Nature Reserve
Cape Point Nature Reserve is home to a large amount of wildlife. Here you are able to spot playful baboons, ostriches strolling around the plains, small turtles crossing the road, and a variety of antelopes. The area is also a birdwatcher’s dream as there are over 270 species of birds in Cape Point. And if you visit in the months between August and November you might even be lucky enough to spot a whale out on the horizon.
Because of the wild animals in the nature reserve, there are a few things you should be aware of. You should always keep your distance no matter which of the animals stand in front of you. However, the baboons are definitely the most dangerous of the wildlife in Cape Point. It is therefore very important that you keep a safe distance from the baboons, move away slowly if one approaches, and don’t feed them. Driving with closed windows when you pass a baboon is therefore recommended.
Hiking trails in Cape Point Nature Reserve
As you might have gathered, there are several hiking trails in Cape Point Nature Reserve. This is definitely a mecca for nature lovers and adventure seekers. There are plenty of hiking trails for all fitness levels. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to find hiking trails that suit your needs. Some of the best hiking trails in Cape Point Nature Reserve are the following.
Cape of Good Hope Trail
This trail starts at the Cape Point Lighthouse parking area and leads along Diaz Beach to Cape of Good Hope. This is one of the easiest hikes in the area as you walk on a wooden boardwalk most of the way. The trail is 3,5 kilometers out and back and should take you about 2 hours.
The Antoniesgat trail starts at the traffic circle just south of Buffels Bay Beach. This trail is about 7 kilometers and takes you along the coast and inland among the beautiful fynbos. Hiking this trail in Cape Point Nature Reserve should take you about 3 hours – depending on your fitness level.
Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail
The Lighthouse Keeper’s trail starts right behind the upper funicular station at Cape Point Lighthouse. This means that you must either walk from the parking area to the starting point or embark on the Flying Dutchman Funicular for an easier trip. This 2-kilometer trial is another easy one in Cape Point and should take you about an hour to complete.
From the visitor center in Cape Point Nature Reserve, you are able to hike the Kanonkop trail. This trail will lead you to a cannon on top of one of the many cliffs in the reserve. You should set aside 3 hours to hike this 5,5-kilometer trail, as there is so much to explore.
From the Gifkommetjie parking area, you are able to start the Gifkommetjie hiking trail. This trail is about 5,5 kilometers and should take you about 2 to 3 hours – depending on your fitness levels. This is definitely one of the toughest hikes in the area, but it is a bit sandy, which can be more difficult to walk in for some people.
From the parking area at Gifkommetjie you are able to hike the Phyllisia Circuit. This hiking trail will take you to the shipwreck of Phyllisia. The trail is about 5,5 kilometers and should take about 2 to 3 hours to complete depending on your fitness levels and how much exploring you want to do.
The famous shipwreck trail in Cape Point Nature Reserve starts at the Olifantsbos parking area. From here you are able to see 3 shipwrecks along the coast of Cape Point. Depending on whether you only visit the wreck of the SS Thomas T. Tucker, or walk further to the Nolloth wreck and Sirkelsvlei, this trail should take you a few hours. However, there are trails for almost everyone as the route can be divided into three lengths: 3 kilometers, 5 kilometers, or 7,5 kilometers. Seeing the shipwrecks of Cape Points is therefore possible for most people.
Opening hours of Cape Point Nature Reserve
The opening hours of Cape Point Nature Reserve depend on the season. In the summer months from October to March, the reserve is open from 06:00 to 18:00. Whereas in the winter months from April to September it is open from 07:00 to 17:00. No matter which seasons you visit you must leave the nature reserve no later than sunset. If you have not left by then you will be given a fine of 500 ZAR.
The opening hours of the Flying Dutchman Funicular are from 09:00 to 17:30 in the summer months and from 09:00 to 17:00 in the winter months.
Entrance fees to Cape Point Nature Reserve
In the table below, you can see the entrance fees to Cape Point Nature Reserve in South Africa.
|South Africans||90 ZAR||45 ZAR|
|International visitors||360 ZAR||180 ZAR|
|SADC Nationals||180 ZAR||90 ZAR|
If you want to join a ride with the Flying Dutchman Funicular you must buy a ticket. The prices for a ticket in the funicular are as follows.
|Type of ticket||Adults||Children||Pensioners|
|Return ticket||85 ZAR||45 ZAR||50 ZAR|
|One way ticket||70 ZAR||35 ZAR|
Keep in mind that the entrance fees to Cape Point Nature Reserve can only be purchased by card.
What to bring for a day in Cape Point Nature Reserve
When you are going on a road trip to explore Cape Point Nature Reserve there are a few things that are useful to bring. Below we have gathered a list of the things you should bring for a day in Cape Point Nature Reserve.
- Sunscreen – The sun can be brutal and there is little to no shade in the reserve.
- A hat and sunglasses – To protect your face and eyes from the harsh sunlight.
- A sweater / jacket – The weather can change in seconds. We experienced clouds, rain, and sunshine during our trip to Cape Point.
- Bathing suit – So you are able to swim at Buffels Bay or the tidal pool at Bordijesrif.
- A pair of binoculars – To spot wildlife, especially whales if you visit between August and November.
Best time to visit Cape Point Nature Reserve
The best time to visit Cape Point Nature Reserve is definitely as early as possible. If you arrive before 09:00 you are able to explore some of the nature reserve without the big crowds from tour buses. Visiting between August and November is also a good time as you might be able to spot whales in False Bay. However, no matter when you visit Cape Point Nature Reserve you will be rewarded with some stunning views and breathtaking nature.