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May 14, 2013

My weekend away at the Agulhas National Park

My weekend away at the Agulhas National Park culminated in a visit to the southernmost tip of Africa, where two oceans meet! Photo courtesy of Fazielah Williams

There are few things I enjoy more than exploring my beautiful Cape Town and her gorgeous surrounding towns, so my adventures with South African National Parks (SANParks) are a real treat.

Marking a year since our first trip to the West Coast, our media family set off for the luscious shores of the Agulhas National Park on Friday April 19, 2013.

The park is in close proximity to the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas, the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the renowned lighthouse, the second-oldest working lighthouse in South Africa after the one in Moulille Point in the Cape; and the quaint little villages of Napier, Elim and Struisbaai.

Following 48 hours of hours of non-stop adventure, sightseeing and oh-so-much eating, I’d say a visit to the Agulhas National Park is a must for:

The unbeatable views

Sunsets at the Agulhas lagoon are unbelievable. Photo courtesy of Fazielah Williams

Trust me when I say that you have not truly experienced a South African sunset until you have seen it from the porch of the Lagoon House on the shore of the Agulhas lagoon.

Equally impressive are the views along the hiking trails and the 2 000 species of indigenous plants.

The luxurious accommodation

The park's rest camp has all the modern comforts you need. Photo courtesy of SANParks

I’ve found with each trip that SANParks continuously dispels the notion that rustic lodgings mean tin shacks with dodgy loo facilities – the Agulhas National Park accommodation is a pure pleasure for the senses, both aesthetically and comfort-wise.

From the impressive Lagoon House, which was the original farmhouse in the area complete with a fireplace in the kitchen, to the wooden chalets at the rest camp that are fitted with all the modern comforts your dear little heart could ask for (DStv, TVs, microwaves, plush duvets and shower) – not to mention the fact that you awaken to the roar of the ocean's waves each morning – these getaway dwellings are my idea of paradise!

The delicious food and wine

You have not lived until you've tried the stuffed mushroom at the Black Oystercatcher in Napier. Photo courtesy of Fazielah Williams

The only thing I love more than sightseeing is indulging in my food and wine fetish; and let me tell you, you’ll find both in scrumptious abundance in Agulhas.

The Black Oystercatcher's linefish of the day, skewered on lemon grass. Photo courtesy of Rory Alexander Photography

Whether you are stopping for a simple yet filling breakfast at the Pelican Harbour Café in Struisbaai; popping by for wine tasting and lunch at the Black Oystercatcher boutique winery (you have not lived until you’ve tried its HUGE stuffed mushrooms); sampling the sweet JD Wines; or digging into the homemade goodies at the Napier Farm Stall and Restaurant (its chicken pie is divine!), Cape Agulhas is a gourmet and winemaking destination of note.

The incredible discoveries and adventures

The Meisho Maru 38, which ran aground in 1982 at Cape Agulhas. Photo courtesy of Fazielah Williams

Boasting myriad thrilling activities, including a one-hour hike across its dense terrain, the park is also the final resting place of quite a few spooky shipwrecks (more than 250), most notably the Meisho Maru 38, which ran aground in 1982.

The park’s primary claim to fame, though, remains the southern tip of Africa, and it is here that scores of tourists and locals will stop for a photo or two to mark their accomplishment of a seemingly impossible feat – straddling two oceans at once.

Levitation at the southernmost tip of Africa. Photo courtesy of Rory Alexander Photography

Being a group of fantastical writers and whimsical television personalities, we naturally took this photo opportunity up a notch and managed a never-to-be-seen-again levitation at the tip of Africa shot, under the careful tutelage of resident group photographer Rory Alexander.

A mere three hours from Cape Town’s bustling City Centre, the Agulhas National Park is an absolute must-visit!

For more information and reservations at the Agulhas National Park, please visit http://www.sanparks.org/parks/agulhas/.

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