Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
The coast road runs down to the south end of the Cape Peninsula, which was declared a nature reserve in 1939 in order to protect the flora and fauna against over-developmentWithin this area of 8000 ha/20,000ac, with a coastline of 40km/25mi, live a great variety of animals, including antelopes, bonteboks, ostriches, warthogs, mountain zebras, lynxes, otters and baboons. The baboons tend to force their attentions on visitors, who should on no account feed them. Off the coast can be seen whales, dolphins and seals. The reserve also contains some 1,200 species of plants typical of the Cape, including proteas and various types of heath. But it is not so much the flora and fauna that attract more than 400,000 visitors to the southwestern tip of Africa every year as the grandiose scenery and the feeling that they are standing on one of the world's great historic spots.The main road runs south through the nature reserve to Cape Point, the most southerly point of the peninsula. The road ends at a large parking area from which it is a few minutes on foot or in a shuttle bus to Cape Point. There are two lighthouses here. The older one, erected in 1860, stands at a height of 249m/817ft above sea level. On a clear day its light can be seen at a distance of 67km/42mi, but in bad weather it is frequently lost in cloud. A new lighthouse was therefore built in 1919 almost 100m/330ft lower down. It is a vital landmark for the more than 20,000 ships which sail round the Cape every year, making this one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.From Cape Point a hiking trail runs west to the Cape of Good Hope, and there is also a motor road. Bartolomeu Diaz, who in 1488 became the first European to round the rocky promontory at the southwestern end of the Cape Peninsula, originally called it the Cape of Storms; for there are almost always strong winds here, during the summer months usually blowing from the southeast: wind speeds of up to 40km/25mi an hour are normal, and on occasion they may reach 120km/75mi an hour. Below the high, steep cliffs are rocks and shallows. Near the information center is a cross commemorating Bartolomeu Diaz, and farther east, near Buffelsbaai, is another cross honoring Vasco da Gama, who rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497 in his quest for a sea route to India.
Opening hours: 7am-5pm
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
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