Why don’t you take the road less travelled this season and explore the hidden gems in our beautiful country with your loved ones?
If there is anything the past few years have taught us, it’s that traveling through our beautiful country is fantastic and can be filled with adventure and unexpected surprises. You often wonder where to start with so many places to explore.
Using Cape Country Routes’ maps, you can explore the Western Cape and take your journey south. A great road trip to undertake with your family is the one from the Mother City to the Cape L’Agulhas, the actual most southern tip of Africa and then further on to Arniston.
The journey to the small town from Cape Town will take about three hours, and on the route, you will pass many farms and stunning landscapes. In August and September the farmlands will be bright yellow with canola flowers, becoming a patchwork of these beautiful flowers.
L’Agulas is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Early Portuguese seafarers rounding the most southern tip of Africa called it Capo du Agulhas, which means Cape of Needles (referring to the jagged rocks of the coastline). It is estimated that almost 200 ships have sunk off the shore of Cape Agulhas in the past 200 years. Most notably, the Japanese ship Meisho Maru’s wreckage is still visible just offshore.
Most visitors consider the beautiful, historical red and white lighthouse as the icon of this region. And a climb to the top is definitely worth it (even if you’re intimidated by the steep wooden flight of steps). The entrance to the Agulhas National Park is just east of the lighthouse entrance. If the winds aren’t too strong, you can visit the marker indicating the official dividing line where the oceans meet. You will see many fishermen next to the shores, as the waters here offer some of the best fishing in Africa.
Agulhas Country Lodge is the perfect place to stay for a few days while you explore the beautiful area. The elevated position of the lodge offers guests remarkable sea views from nearly every vantage point. A home away from home, this lodge offers eight en suite rooms, all with sea-view balconies. And on the days when the wind is too rough, you can sit on the bar’s enclosed balcony and enjoy the best views while playing board games with your family.
The lodge is built from limestone, so it blends perfectly into the surroundings. With a commitment to excellence, you will feel at home from the moment you arrive. The staff will ensure that you are well looked after while you relax in the beautiful surroundings.
Enjoy a mouthwatering breakfast in the dining room each morning before you head out to explore the area. Lunch or dinner is available in the quaint restaurants in the town and the picturesque harbour in Struisbaai. And upon your return to the lodge, you can look forward to a relaxing glass of wine in the aviation themed bar or enjoy a cigar in the adjoining cigar lounge.
Off to your next adventure
After spending a few days in the area, you can prepare for your next adventure in the small seaside settlement of Arniston. Arniston, also called Waenhuiskrans, is was later named after a British transport ship that wrecked here in 1815. Somehow both names seem to have stuck and are still used today, so it’s the only South African town with two official names.
At first, this was only a fishing community, but it has become a popular holiday destination, and its hinterland is a region for viticulture and agriculture. The fishing village is something out of a picture book with lime-washed walls and thatched roof houses, and it remains unspoiled. It has been declared a Western Cape heritage site in its entirety. Here you can spend endless days enjoying activities from whale-watching to caving to fishing and snorkelling.
Once you have parked your car at the Arniston Spa Hotel, you can literally explore everything on foot for the next few days while exploring everything this village offers. The hotel is in the middle of the village and offers 67 en-suite rooms with breathtaking sea and pool views. All the rooms offer the comforts of a world-class hotel. Some rooms have fireplaces, and the deluxe sea-facing rooms have private balconies with panoramic ocean views. Patio-facing rooms open onto a tranquil garden and heated swimming pool.
The hotel overlooks the beach, Indian ocean and fishing harbour, and you can hear from the clatter of the guests that it’s a place where you come back again and again. The hotel was initially built in 1935 and had an interesting history. During the early days, it was a local watering hole that the rowdy types frequented. However, after World War II, it turned all prim and proper and had a significant make-over in the 1980s and again in the early 2000s, making it the inclusive, family-friendly establishment it is today. And being part of Cape Country Routes’ collection of hotels, you can be sure to receive the best service.
The food at the hotel is something to rave about. Here you will enjoy the most scrumptious dishes – especially its trademark selection of local seafood. They are also well-known for the breakfast buffet – a delectable spread of traditional and healthy dishes. And while enjoying your delicious breakfast, you can be sure to spot some whales in the water from May to November. Between July a September, you can see them lobtailing, spyhopping and breaching. Southern Right whales visit all the way from Antarctica to these waters to breed, so you might even spot some calves too.
There are so many activities to keep you busy in Arniston, but you have to take time to relax in their spa. It’s run by the renowned Ginkgo Spa and Wellness Group. They are well-known for their outstanding service and attention to detail, and each session is uniquely personal, with their treatments based on traditional hands-on touch therapy.
A great way to start your day is to a walkabout in Kassiesbaai. This old fishing village is a provincial heritage site, and the village is tucked into the sand dunes just next to the hotel. The white-washed cottages with thatched roofs are home to descendants of the original families who successfully fought off attempts to remove them in apartheid times. Here you can talk to the locals, visit a few of the local shops and enjoy the sounds of laughter in the streets.
Lunch at Willeen’s is a super traditional outing. She has been the proprietor since 2003. It’s simple but delicious, and while the menu changes occasionally, you will always find fish and chips here. Enjoy sea views from rustic shaded tables.
And then, for an unforgettable experience, you should visit the Waenhuiskrans cave. This can only be done during low tide, and you should wear comfortable shoes with a good grip that you don’t mind getting wet for the adventure. It’s a great walk from the hotel (just time yourself to be at the caves during low tide). The cave is cavernous. So large, in fact, that it is named for its space – the idea being that a wagon with an entire span of oxen could turn around inside (although there is no way you could actually get an ox or cart down there).
Another great experience is exploring the creamy white dunes around the village. You can climb to the top of one, get beautiful views out to sea, and then surf your way down.
The beaches in Arniston are also great for swimming, with the warm Mozambique current ensuring that the water temperature is pleasant. Remember to take your goggles and snorkel with you, and you can spend hours exploring the rocky pools on the lookout for sea creatures.
Both the Agulhas Country Lodge and Arniston Hotel are part of the Cape Country Routes establishments. It is South Africa’s leading group of owner-operated and managed accommodation and activity establishments with more than 28 privately owned hotels, lodges and guest houses – located on the scenic and historic routes in the Western and Eastern Cape. All carefully selected for their character, charm and romance, they offer the best accommodation and activity options to suit every taste and budget.
To plan your next adventure, visit https://www.capecountryroutes.com/.