Any visitor to Cape Point Nature Reserve will soon realise that they are not in one of our country’s game reserves, but a nature reserve in the truest sense. Although a few small herds of bontebok and eland roam these narrow plains, with an isolated sighting of one zebra from time to time, the most abundant animal is the Chacma baboon, and it is the birdlife and fynbos beauty that should be the main target of the sightseeing. Apart from the long haul up to the lighthouse, that is. This is a place to sit on a rock and listen to the silence, or the wind through the restios, or the splashing of the waves against the shoreline. The very best way to appreciate what the reserve has to offer is on foot, on one of the many lengthy and generally easy to follow sandy paths that crisscross the plateau. Almost all provide a linking trail down to the beaches, and the choice is your whether to make it a gentle or a strenuous walk. Cape Point claims the fame of being the most consistently windy place in South Africa, but this doesn’t always translate into a gale, and can sometimes be imperceptible.
Starting in Buffels Bay, we took the steep road back up almost to the main road, then veered off into the thick fynbos to the left. The track is pleasant, even and with gentle undulations as it snakes southwards,. Mature pincushions are dotted across the landscape, having escaped the many veld fires over the decades, and at least four species of erica could be admired along the way. We crossed two streams that bubbled on their way to the sea far below, no doubt their source being a spring, as there is no body of water in this area, the closest being Sirkelsvlei near Olifantsbos. The breeze was light but cooling as we stopped many times to admire the views and have a water break, so essential on these very hot days to ensure sufficient hydration.
Along the way we passed scattered, half-eaten cones from the leucadendrons that flourish here, and there were many close encounters of the turd kind, making us aware of where we placed our feet. We soon became aware of the perpetrators of the dirty deeds, and found ourselves in the midst of a healthy population of baboons, quietly munching on the bushes and doing what baboons do when in their territory – the alpha male snarling at young upstarts daring to approach any female, lots of babies clinging to their mothers or tumbling over each other in play, and always foraging. We passed them respectfully, not challenging them with a stare or waving at them, and they in turn barely glanced our way.
Almost at Rooikrans, it was time to sit on the warm, flat rocks, next to the warm, flat sea. A dozen or so fishing boats lay at anchor in the bay, with kayakers fishing from their smaller craft close to shore. While we enjoyed a rest before the last stretch, the boats suddenly set off for home, engines at full throttle and racing at speed across the smooth surface. How I would have loved to be on board on such a sea!
We passed another troop on the way back, also foraging but this time on the beach – a varied diet that provides food all year round. It was warming up and the last scramble over the rocks was quite testing, but the cooling influence of the sea and our overall appreciation of our spectacular surroundings kept all complaints at bay. Another walk in paradise!