Cape of Good Hope
Key information: Cape of Good Hope
- The magic of this place is its combination of Ocean beauty, fabulous fynbos vegetation and historical resonance.
- There is a variety of trails, but the best takes you along the booming cliffs and beaches of the Atlantic coast, then turn inland, through changing bands of vivid and varied fynbos.
- The Cape of Good Hope has had resonance for travellers for centuries, "rounding the Cape" a key and risky landmark on the routes to India, Australia and the Far East.
- Cape Point is always crowded and has an unpleasant baboon population. Despite that, this is not a walk to miss.
- Walkopedia rating81
- Natural interest15
- Human interest7
- Negative points3
- Total rating81
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: N/A
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The Cape of Good Hope has had resonance for travellers for centuries, "rounding the Cape" originally and aptly named the Cape of Storms - a key and risky landmark on the routes to India, Australia and the Far East. Diaz was the first to accomplish this in 1488, and died in a wreck here in 1500. Vasco da Gama rounded the cape in 1497. The treacherous coast is littered with wrecks and the Flying Dutchman is most frequently seen off Cape Point.
The Cape is often thought to be the southernmost point of Africa, but in fact this prize goes to a stretch of beautiful but landmark free coast some 150 km to the east. The Cape is, in contrast, unforgettable, the wild terminus of the 75 km Cape Peninsula which narrows from Cape Town and the extraordinary Table Mountain to the beautiful national park at its southern end.
The Cape area is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the world's six major botanical zones, and its richest one, harbouring an extraordinary diversity of plants in a relatively tiny area. On the Cape peninsula alone, there are said to be over 2,800 species of plant, more than in the whole of the UK. Known as fynbos, this vegetation includes proteas, ericas (heathers) and reeds and is startlingly beautiful and vivid on a bright day.
There are numerous trails in the area, but the best route runs from Cape Point in the south along the western shore, then turns inland and threads through the fynbos vegetation to the park entrance in the far north, a long four hour's trek.
At Cape Point, the spectacular rocky spine where the Cape peninsula peters out into turbulent waters, the cliffs fall sheer into the surf. The views here are superb and the lucky may see a school of dolphins or a southern right whale far below.
A path drops down past the unpleasant, swollen-arsed Baboons which prowl around the carpark at the base of Cape Point, then winds through gorgeous fynbos, around the cliffs above the perfect Diaz Beach, immaculate white sand, to the real Cape; just as The Cape is not the southernmost place in Africa, so Cape Point is not, despite looking the part, actually the Cape of Good Hope, which is a comparatively modest pile of boulders a mile or so to the south-west.
The path follows a magnificent curve of shingly beach for perhaps 3km before climbing onto the plateau and entering a different world. The fynbos is superbly vivid and varied here, a really wonderful experience to wander through. The path turns north along a good track through the bush, which gradually shrinks to lower, drier scrub. After a few flattish, beautiful but relatively uneventful miles, the track winds over a small rocky ridge and snakes down to the park entrance.
There are antelope, a few bountebok and cape mountain zebras here, as well as Cape clawless otters.
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
The Cape of Good Hope has had resonance for travellers for centuries, "rounding the Cape" – originally and aptly named the Cape of Storms - a key and risky landmark on the routes to India, Australia and the Far East. Diaz was the first to accomplish this in 1488, and died in a wreck here in 1500. Vasco da Gama rounded the cape in 1497. The treacherous coast is littered with wrecks, including the troopship The Birkenhead, which sank off the aptly named Danger Point in 1852 with 600 soldiers still on board, following the first recorded instruction for "women and children.....READ MORE
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Mountains in the Sea; Table Mountain to Cape Point: An Interpretative Guide to the Table Mountain National Park - John Yeld
The Rough Guide to South Africa - Rough Guides
Fodor’s South Africa - Fodor
South Africa - Footprint
South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland - Lonely Planet
Table Mountain to Cape Point - Carrie Hampton
Good maps can be bought locally.
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
You can walk here any time of year - but summer (Nov - March), while hottest, is most likely to deliver clear weather.
Generally fine in season. Come prepared for unpredictable weather.
By car or bus to your chosen trailhead.
See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Unpredictable weather: rain, cold and wind are possible at any time of year. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Dangerous animals, including snakes. The unpleasant baboons around Cape Point. Take all appropriate precautions.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
Most people do this walk independently, but should come prepared.
Some people form or join organized guided expeditions. Walking with a knowledgeable guide can add to the fascination of the walk. Expedition organisers include:
- ATG, the Alternative Travel Group, do some excellent-looking guided walking in the Cape Area of South Africa.
- Hoerikwaggo Trails (www.hoerikwaggontrails.co.za) organize a selection of wonderful multi-day walks in the area.
- Downhill Adventures (www.downhilladventures.com)
- Venture Forth - www.ventureforth.co.za
- Cape Xtreme - www.cape-xtreme.com
Guide (not personally known to us): Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org - "I am a qualified guide who understands the complex weather systems, swell conditions and paths to give them an incredible experience. Guiding includes, walks with wildlife, information about vegetaion, identification of land based whale watching, birdwatching: pelagic, costal, fynbos and birds of prey and lots more."
The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation.
There are a lot of Cape Town accommodation websites. Search “Cape Town accommodation”.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
- www.wikipedia.org - predictably, very useful, including some links
- www.places.co.za - includes information on further routes
- www.trailguide.co.za is worth looking at.
Other things to do in the area
Table Mountain. Not to be missed.
There is now a fine (multi day) trail hiking trail from the Cape Peninsula to Table Mountain.
And excellent organized walks in the area can be found at www.hoerikwaggotrails.co.za.
The wine areas are stunning, especially Franschoek.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more