Hiking Robberg Peninsula
One of my favourite hikes – The Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay is named after the seals that have always been there – “Rob” meaning seal and “Berg” meaning mountain in Afrikaans. Unrestricted hunting in the late 19th century almost totally destroyed this seal colony; however after the outright ban on seal culling in 1990 they are now protected from man’s destruction although they remain a source of food for their natural predators – sharks and Orcas.
A hike on the “Robberg” is not to be considered a ‘walk in the park’. It is a rigorous hike with rugged, stony and rocky terrain. Although in recent times railings and paths have been laid to make the going easier it is recommended that good walking shoes with sturdy soles are worn; don’t attempt this hike in sandals. And as there is no protection from the elements and weather can change in a flash I recommend that you take a wind/rain jacket. Carry some water with you too as hiking is thirsty work and there are no refreshments available on the Reserve.
One feature of a hike along the Eastern face is the large seal colony where you will hear them barking, see them basking in the sun, swimming and frolicking in the bay and of course the smell which can be quite offensive when the wind’s in the “wrong” direction. As you walk the first section keep a look out in the waters below for the “Robberg Express” a large shark swimming back and forth in search of food.
Another feature is the amazing different rock formations laid down in a vast inland sea about 400 million years ago and converted to quartzite by immense pressures as continents collided. Table Mountain Quartzite forms the base of the peninsula. Layers of conglomerate of the Robberg Formation lie upon it, with the different rock faces telling a story of the past. Millenia of wind and water have left towering cliffs, boulder-strewn hillsides, caves and sand dunes.
Don’t forget to take the time to admire the vegetation that has adapted to the shallow soil, strong winds and fierce sun. When in bloom the Montane Fynbos is very beautiful and well worth taking photos of.
Most times we take the “middle” route over the sand dunes and head for the Island which is the best example of a tombolo beach (where waves actually approach each other from opposite sides) in South Africa. It is an important nesting site for kelp gulls and the endangered Black Oystercatcher. Here is it time to climb the steep steps onto the Island, find a good resting spot and bring out the picnic snack from the rucksack, stretch out in the sun and watch the bird life and crashing waves.
For those up to the challenge keep going on to the Point, an additional approximately 3 kilometers, but the paths are much more rugged with no laid paths or railings but well worth the extra distance travelled. A feeling of satisfaction overcomes you on completion of hike to the Point and around the Western face of the peninsular.
The Robberg Nature Reserve is well worth assigning at least a morning or afternoon of a day in Plettenberg Bay. Can one tire of such beauty? I certainly can’t so this remains one of our favourite weekend pastimes.
Guided tours can be arranged with an experienced guide – contact Gareth Robbins of Golden Orb Tours on 082 525 3946 firstname.lastname@example.org who will be only too happy to share his vast knowledge of the peninsula
There are 3 circular routes from which to choose, each increasing in distance and difficulty:
- The Gap – 2.2km approximately 45 – 60 minutes
- Witsand – sand dune, down to The Island, 5.6 km 2 – 3 hours
- The Point – 9.2m (not for young children and the unfit)
What to bring:
- Water is essential as there is no water on the trails
- Sunscreen and hat
- Wind/rain jacket
- Walking or Hiking Shoes with sturdy sole
Cost:R30 per adult / R15 per scholar
Opening times:Nov – April: 7am – 8pm /May – Oct: 8am – 6pm