Cape Agulhas (Western Cape)

How does it feel like to be at the southernmost tip of that big mass of land relating Europe, Asia and Africa? Bring at the extreme bottom of our planet having billions of people to the north of you, inhabiting those majestic continents?

Cape Agulhas is a rocky headland, a wild and treacherous coastline which perhaps no other nickname than ‘Graveyard of Ships’ would suit. A fascinating history of shipwreck including some 250 ships have been wrecked there over time) adds drama to the remote beauty of the area.

Soft and gentle winter days settle between the wild storms that strike this beautiful area in the Overberg region, 170 kilometers (105 miles) southeast of Cape Town.

Cape Agulhas National Park

The Agulhas National Park is located in the Agulhas Plain, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) south-east of Cape Town. It includes the southern tip of Africa, extending to the towns of Gansbaai and Struisbaai, of a total area of about 21 000 hectares (52 000 acres).

More than 1750 botanical species can be found in this park, along with some of the most remarkable examples of lowland fynbos, particularly those on limestone soils as they are considered endangered and indigenous to the southern Overberg. Breeding sites of rare birds such as the African Black Oystercatcher are also present. Expect a glimpse of Southern Right whales in spring and early summer too.

The park is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vision behind setting up this park is the conservation of the unique marine, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity of the area through sustainable use of its resources.

The work carried out in this park is an expression of a South African dream to preserve its treasures for its present and future generations to benefit.

Agulhas - Peak of Southern Africa

It is the primary tourist attraction in the Cape Agulhas National Park. You can find an official stone plaque marking the place right on the beach while strolling on the wooden boardwalk there, which is located about 1 km west of the lighthouse. It is undoubtedly a famous place to click your pictures. Do watch out for the beautiful sceneries along the way—they are definitely worth a ‘click’!

Indian-Atlantic Oceans

As declared by the International Hydrographical Organisation, the official meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans is Cape Agulhas, even though the ocean currents may keep on moving. This demarcation is cast in stone.

This was the main attraction that drew sailors and explorers to round the cape: the satisfaction of sailing in one of the most challenging sea crossings of their times. The love for adventure and mysteries round this cape has remained alive in the hearts of modern travelers today. You might be one of them!

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

This charming, historic red and white lighthouse is South Africa’s second oldest working lighthouse. Built in 1848 in the Pharaohs style, it includes a small but fascinating museum, curio shop and tearoom. Enjoy counting the steps as you climb to the top of the lighthouse—there are exactly 71 of them!

The small hill behind the lighthouse, locally known as a ‘koppie’, will give you a panoramic view of the ships sailing nearby and the point where the two oceans meet.

L’Agulhas Town

The town of L’Agulhas is located nearby. Discover the amazing historic and cultural legacy bequeathed here by the Khoikhoi beach nomads inhabiting the place for many centuries.

Shell middens, stone hearths, pottery and the ingenious fish traps successfully preserved for a long time there have a particular historical appeal.

The fish traps, which were constructed by building dams across shallow gullies, are called visvywers.

They strand the fish on the outgoing tide and some are still being used today.

Those valuable relics remind modern man of an earlier culture that was in perfect harmony with nature.

The Cape of Needles

The name ‘Cabo das Agulhas’ (Portuguese for ‘Cape of Needles’) was given to it by Portuguese navigators in the 1500s when they noticed that the compass needle which shows the direction of the magnetic north corresponded with the true north of this region.

Cape Agulhas Wine Estates

In the village of Elim one can find a unique terroir where one-of-a-kind flavoured wine is produced. The strong and dominant icy winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean slow the ripening season so that the grapes can mature at a relaxed pace. If you happen to be nearby, don’t miss the Shiraz and Semillon varieties, and especially the Sauvignon Blancs which have a good reputation all over the world.

What More to See and Do

Cape Agulhas is famous for having one of the best fishing grounds of South Africa. The water around the shoreline is very shallow, so you might consider having some fishing experience as well.

There are also many hiking trails and coastal walks through the National Park in case you want to explore the region on foot. As for those who wish to swim a bit in this key location, there are tidal pools and rock pools present.

A number of towns consists the Agulhas Municipality. Among them, you can find the small village of Suiderstrand just 5 km west of the southern tip, which is a real haven for nature lovers. Bredasdorp has a museum which is also worth a visit if you wish to know more about the historical shipwrecks along the southern cape coast and their influence on the region.