CapeTownMagazine.com

Olifantsbos shipwreck trail

We'll get through this. CapeTownTogether
Follow our social channels for useful news,
daily local champions + find moments of joy
 
+27(0)72 350 2062
Ideas Cartel - 113 Loop Street
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

Olifantsbos shipwreck trail

A hike with Hi-Tec in the Cape Point Nature Reserve

Dutch born, J.K Van Der Luit, clearly remembers the day the Nolloth, his family’s coaster, was shipwrecked at Cape Point. “In 1963, we left Cape Town for Durban in stormy weather. We sailed painfully slow. At 1am or 2am that morning we started shipping water; and after about an hour the bilge pump gave up. Within two hours, we had taken on two metres of water. The vessel was very sluggish and we all went to the wheelhouse where, miraculously, and with the engine still running, my father was able to steer the vessel clear of the coast.

“All we could do was pray that the engine wouldn’t stall. I will never forget the sound of the ship smacking the beach.”

This, now rusty, piece of family history can still be seen partially submerged beneath the sand along the shipwreck trail at Olifantsbos.

Far from the madding crowd

As we pull up in the Olifantsbos parking lot at Cape Point a herd of bontebok are grazing on the outskirts of the beach. There isn’t a tour bus in sight, and it’s wonderfully quiet. I’m wearing my V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi Hi-Tecs which do a great job of keeping the sand out, plus they keep me stable on the rocks.

What to bring

  • A map. Pick up a pamphlet at the Buffesfontein Visitors Centre. Written by volunteers, they’re a wealth of knowledge and will set you back just R3.
  • Hat and sunblock. You’ll need to bring your own shade for this walk along the beach.
  • Hiking shoes. For the rocky bits and path to the beach.
  • Water. Make sure you bring enough to keep you hydrated.
  • Camera. Cape Point has some of the most dramatic landscapes which makes for interesting photos.
  • Children from age 10 and up.
  • Warm top. It’s not called the Cape of Storms for nothing; the wind can be icy even when the sun is shining.
  • Don’t bring food with you, plan your picnic before or afterwards: there are sometimes baboons on this route, and they will be attracted to the food.

Routes

There are three routes that start and end at Olifantsbos which vary in length so you can choose between them depending on how much time you have and how energetic you’re feeling. Once you’re in the Cape Point Nature Reserve look out for the Olifantsbos turn off on the right. This will take you through the reserve and down to the beach where there’s a parking lot. You’ll get to enjoy the fynbos and occasional animal along the drive. Look out for the Thomas T. Tucker sign on the left if you’re facing the sea, this is the start of all three routes.

Thomas T. Tucker shipwreck trail
Easy
Follow the yellow tipped markers along the path down to the beach. You’ll leave the path through the fynbos behind as you clamber over a rocky section which will lead you to the beach. There’s plenty of interesting sea life in the rock pools at the water’s edge. Continue on along the beach until you see the remains of the Thomas T. Tucker – an American ‘Liberty Ship’ that struck the rocks while avoiding torpedoes in a night attack in 1942 (don’t worry, everyone on board survived). You can stop here for a break before returning the way you came or continuing on to see the Nolloth and following one of the circular routes back.

Duration: This 3km route will take about an hour and a half.

Shipwreck circuit
Easy
Carry on past the Nolloth shipwreck and up to the inland ridge. The path will lead back towards the Olifantsbos parking lot, go past the sign that turns off to Sirkelsvlei and keep going towards Staavia Edge.

Duration: This 5km route will take up to two and a half hours.

Sirkelsvlei circuit
Moderate
Sirkelsvlei is the largest body of fresh water in the area and is thought to be fed by underground springs. You can reach this route by following the path near the boom gate at the top of the road from the parking lot. You can choose which way to start out with when the path splits, the path on the sea side will take you along Staavia Edge and then around to Sirkelsvlei and then on to a rock shaped like an arch before leading back to Olifantsbos.

Duration: This 6.5 km circuit will take about three hours and 45 minutes.

What to look out for

Flora: The large stretches of open plains at Cape Point are home to over 1200 species of indigenous plants so there is plenty for plant lovers to discover. We stopped to admire the fields of white everlasting flowers (also known as Cape snow and sewejaartjie), they were covering the area looking very much like snow and filling the air with their rustling in the wind.

Fauna: We spotted ostriches, dassies, bontebok and snakes as well as a troop of chacma baboons who were foraging on the beach. There is plenty of birdlife in the reserve too. It’s great being able to walk freely in the reserve with the chance of spotting so much wildlife. You can also spot Cape mountain zebra, eland, Cape grysbok, red hartebeest and many others.

Trivia: This is the only place in Africa where the chacma baboons are protected. The herds of bontebok we spotted are the rarest antelope in the world and closely escaped extinction in the early 1900s.

Cape of Good Hope (Cape Point):
+27 (0)21 780 9010

Opening Times:
April - September (winter) 7am - 5pm
October - March (summer) 6am - 6pm

By Lindsay Callaghan

*Sponsored by Hi-Tec


Have a look at our Facebook album of the route and follow us on Twitter to find out where (and what) we’ll be hiking next. Plus, subscribe to our weekly newsletter for a seven day weather forecast.

Cape Town Events Calendar
December 2020
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Maker's LandingMaker’s Landing, the Waterfront’s ...

Sticky koesisters, authentic Cape Malay curry and gorgeous harbour views

One&Only A glamorous escape at One&Only Cape ...

A resort holiday with special experiences for less than ever

Distillers & Union Make your unique brand of gin

And there’s more: vodka, rum, fiery ginger beer plus the chance to tour this working ...

africamps7Discover South Africa with these great ...

From the pet-friendly Stanford Hills to a camp located on a large fishing dam in Limpopo

Goodluck bandSunday Fundays at Constantia Nek La ...

Expect happy hour drinks, delicious tapas-style food and live music every Sunday

Festive Lights switch-on concert Adderley Street Festive Lights Switch-on

This year's event is cancelled but exciting new CBD events are planned

trail fit sa Discover a new Western Cape hiking ...

Find a secret waterfall or meet sleeping bats in a 150m long cave

Tiger's Milk UnpluggedCatch live music every Sunday at ...

This week Gerry Liberty is heading up Tiger’s Milk’s Sunday stage

virtual_garden3Discover the McGregor Magic Virtual ...

Explore South Africa’s amazing biodiversity without leaving home

Watershed 2Known favourites and new discoveries at ...

825 square-meters of the best in African art, craft, design, and now beauty

cape point vineyard 3Enjoy an idyllic weekend walk at Cape ...

Get a 360-degree view of the mountain, the fynbos, the vineyards and the ocean

robin_hoodLunch is sorted at Robin Hood Burger ...

Robin Hood in Kloof Street has basket lunch deals every day

The grill father The Grillfather is back with a hearty ...

Enjoy their 2.8kg pure beef patty and backyard braai vibes

Flea MarketMilnerton Flea Market: a treasure trove ...

From antiques and trinkets to a variety of second-hand items

spring_2Bradwell Spring: Vredehoek’s fresh ...

It’s the second formalised spring water collection point built by the City

spring_1Newlands Spring: Cape Town’s ...

Rules are in place to ensure everyone’s safety

GiveawaysTravel Tips