April 2017: People often think that the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost point of Africa. At least, that’s kind of what I just assumed. In reality the southernmost point is a good few hours away at Cape Agulhas. On a sunny Sunday afternoon Fi’s good mate Lisa took us to check it out. We piled into our little Datsun and with Lisa as our GPS, headed out of Hermanus and down through the countryside to the end of Africa.
Southernmost point of Africa: Napier for coffee and scones
While the coastline around Hermanus is quite green and lush, pretty soon the countryside gets rather arid and dry. Vineyards give way to crops and sheep farms as the road winds it’s way south east through the little country towns of Napier and Bredasdorp. We stopped into the Napier Farm Stall and Restaurant for a coffee and some scones before continuing down to the coast. Our road continued until we found ourselves on a glorious stretch of squeaky white sand. A sparkling turquoise sea lapped gently to shore. The water was surprisingly warm…at least compared to the sub arctic temperatures of Cape Town. Families bathed in the warm sun and kids ran laughing into the water.
Southernmost point of Africa: Arniston and a fishing village which time forgot
The main reason Lisa brought us to Arniston was to take a lazy stroll around the old fishing village where time seems to have stood still. Limestone white cottages were organised haphazardly over a small hill with million dollar views down to the ocean. Various bits of fishing paraphernalia were lying around, from worse for wear looking boats to old buoys and fishing nets. On a Sunday families had their braais out and were getting ready to settle in for the afternoon. For whatever reason tourism hasn’t really reached Arniston so locals kind of just eye you off with a casual curiosity. The odd BMW parked beside a cottage indicated where perhaps wealthy Capetonians have started to buy in. Mostly though, the cottages seemed owned by the same working class families who have owned them for decades. Life continues simply and at a beautiful slow pace.
Southernmost point of Africa: Cape Agulhas
From Arniston, we continued down small country back roads on our way to Cape Agulhus otherwise known as the southernmost point of Africa. By the time we got there though we realised that we were in danger of missing our lunch reservation so the tour picked up pace. The village of Cape Agulhas was a bit of a one street town which would we could imagine being buffeted by fierce winter rain and gale forced winds. A few kilometres further down the road you come to the lighthouse where the road turns to dirt and you have the final little stretch down to the southernmost point of Africa.
As suspected from the thriving metropolis of the village, there isn’t a whole lot of fanfare about being at the end of Africa. It’s rugged, beautiful but otherwise a fairly lonely spot. Looking out from the small monument which marks the spot I could imagine the number of ships which would have come to strife rounding those rocks. After a hasty photo with the three of us we were back in the Datsun and off again. Next destination, The Black Oystercatcher Winery for a spot of lunch.
Southernmost point of Africa: The Black Oystercatcher winery for lunch
Lisa works at a fantastic little winery near Hermanus called Sumaridge Estate so we had put the request in for a local winery for lunch. Black Oystercatcher is down a country road and has a cracking view out over the rolling, parched hills. The restaurant is a large, open and airy affair. The tables look out over the lawn and a small pool before taking in the view. The menu was meat heavy with steaks, burgers and the odd salad but with enough to keep us interested. Parched as I was after all the driving I had to nail a cheeky pint of local ale before we got stuck into our rosé. Food wise, my venison burger was juicy and delicious. Lisa’s fig and blue cheese salad was enormous and not too stingy with plump, sweet figs. Arguably the winner of the day was Fi’s equally enormous hot smoked salmon salad with liberal lashings of smoked salmon, potatoes and fresh greens. Nothing finicky or exactly ground breaking but hearty, delicious and exactly we needed after the morning’s missioning.
Southernmost point of Africa: the way home
Our sizeable lunch and midday boozing seemed to put a dent in our enthusiasm. From the winery we were homeward bound. Lisa still had a few tricks up her sleeve though with a drive through a few random villages and more beautiful countryside. De Hoop was like an old Dutch lutheran community which time forgot with it’s austere cottages and dominant church. On the flip side the artist community of Baardskeerdersbos (god knows how you pronounce that) seemed like a place where people came to get lost and forget the outside world. All in all a super enjoyable day through the lesser known region of Overberg at the bottom of Africa. Thanks so much Lisa for showing us around.