We wanted to do a two day hike out to the Cape of Good Hope, but were having trouble booking it online or over the phone. So, we decided to test our luck and show up at the Table Mountain National Park Visitor’s Center to see if they had a spot available for us. We arrived at the visitor’s center at around 0900 and asked if there were two spots open for that night.
The lady at the counter seemed a little reluctant to sell us the tickets for the hike. She told us we needed to book much farther in advance. However, there were two spots available for that night. We later found out that all the spots were available for that night because we were the only ones at the huts. The lady seemed worried that we were leaving late (after 0900) and didn’t think we were prepared with food and water. After assuring her that we had food and water for the two days and could make it to the hut easily before sunset, she took our money and gave us the keys to the hut.
The hike is two days with a night in a hut on the Cape Peninsula. The first day is ~13 km with and optional detour to Cape Point. The second day is 20.5 km with an optional detour to a shipwreck site. The Cape of Good Hope Peninsula encloses False Bay on one side. Cape Hangklip is on the other side. This bay is called False Bay because historically, mist on the bay would obscure the view of the land. Ships would round Cape Hangklip thinking they had gone around the Cape of Good Hope and run ashore or vice versa.
In order to start our hike, we had to drive back to the entrance gate of the park (the visitor’s center is actually about halfway into the park). We parked our car near the main gate so it would have some security while we were gone, sorted out gear, and headed out. It was raining by this time, so we had on our rain jackets and pack covers.
The rains cleared fairly quickly. We climbed 3 small peaks and took in the spectacular views of the cape. We could see the light house on the very end of the peninsula which was our end point for the day. The huts were not quite out to the cape, so our plan was to drop our packs once we got to the huts and then continue on to the cape.
The halfway point of the day was actually back at the visitor’s center. The thing about this trail was that we were never very far from the road. In fact, there was a road that went straight out to the cape point with tour buses and vans. After a PB&J lunch at the visitor’s center, we continued on a somewhat flatter trek.
By the time we could see the huts from the trail, we turned upward to start climbing again. Shortly into the uphill climb, we noticed something in the water. At first I thought it was just a rock or seaweed, but Jay assured me it was an animal. Then we saw it breech. It was a North Atlantic Right Whale. We weren’t quick enough to get a picture, but it was still very cool to see!
We finally arrived at the hut called Protea Hut around 1430. Fun fact: a protea is a type of South African flower. The hut was perched up on a high hill on the cape. The Atlantic Ocean was to the left and the Indian Ocean was to the right. The views were spectacular! We couldn’t believe we were so lucky to be the only ones up here in this incredible spot!
After taking in some of the views, we dropped our packs and headed to the tip of the cape. The hike over to the cape point was pretty tough. It involved a lot more climbing and scrambling up and down rocks near the steep cliffs of the cape. But we finally made it to the entry gate. While there had been no one on the trail up to the gate, now there were tour buses full of crowds of people.
The cape consisted on a steep climb up a paved pathway to a light house and several lookouts. There was also another short hike out to Danger Point which was the very end of the cape. Despite what I had learned in school, the Cape of Good Hope is not the most southern tip of Africa. The other side of False Bay can be seen from the cape and is unmistakeably further south. L’Agulhas is a actually the southern mist tip of Africa.
We enjoyed seeing the huge waves and the differences between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Despite what is commonly thought, the two oceans do not actually meet at the Cape of Good Hope. The two oceans actually meet at L’Agulhas.
We still had the hour hike back to the hut, so we decided we needed to head back around 1700. But, we didn’t head back before getting a couple beers to take back to the hut.
We spent the evening watching the sunset from our perch on top of the mountain. The rangers paid us a visit that night to make sure we safely made it to the hut. After assuring them we were better than ok, we got to bed. We had another big day of hiking tomorrow.