Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Robberg Nature Reserve

Robberg is a rocky peninsula that juts out into sea on the Western edge of Plettenberg Bay, a pretty coastal town with some of the Garden Routes best beaches. It’s a beautiful Nature Reserve that is easily explored on foot, with a couple of trails snaking around and over the top of the neck of land. The interesting flora and highly visual geological zones (some dating back to about 130 million years ago) offer more than enough for the eye but it’s really the animals that live on and visit the place that make it special. There is a noisy and decidedly smelly Cape fur seal colony, an abundance of Southern Right and Humpback whales that visit every year after winter and plenty of playful dolphins. The bird life is wonderful and I’ve even come across penguins on the beach every now and then.

The reason I decided to write a quick story about Robberg is that in the last 2 months I’ve seen Great White sharks on five occasions. This last Sunday I watched one the size of a bus, glide up and down along the rocks, seemingly hunting but staying confusingly far away from the seals. Maybe he’d just eaten or was vegetarian and looking for sea cucumbers? All I know is that I’m going to be a bit more careful the next time I’m flapping around in the waves like an injured walrus.

The entrance fee is R30 for adults and the park is open from 7 to 6 daily (with closing times being extended to 8 in summer). There are 3 circular hiking trails, ranging from 30 minutes to around 4 hours, if you’ve got the energy to go the whole way around. The full loop around the point must be done at low tide and is not really suitable for young kids. There have recently been a few incidents with freak waves but if you use common sense you should have no problems whatsoever.

The Nelson Bay Cave, which is located a little after the entrance gate and down to the sea on the right, is a really worthwhile attraction. It’s a significant middle and later stone-age archaeological site which was first inhabited around 120,000 years ago. At that time there were no braai (barbeque) or picnic facilities and residents scuttled around the rocks hunting sea life. Fortunately things have changed and today there are two braais and plenty of tables at the parking area. It’s a very special spot, even on a wild and windy evening, and ranks at the top of my ‘world’s best braai spots’ list.

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