Swellendam to Hermanus via Cape Agulhas, South Africa

Like the previous morning we woke to an overcast sky that burned off, leaving us with a clear blue sky by the time we finished breakfast. Today we were headed south to Cape Agulhas, the most southern point in Africa. Located in the Overberg Region, at about 35 degrees south, it’s roughly the same parallel as Buenos Aires in South America or the northern equivalent of Santa Barbara or Memphis in the States.

The morning drive started with golden fields of wheat, some of which had just been harvested taking advantage of the recent days of warm sunshine, others still retained that not quite ripe greenish hue.

Wildflowers and Sand Dunes

After Bredasdorp the terrain flattens out with fewer cultivated fields and the brush not so thick in the white sandy soil. Just before the town of Struisbaai, following a trail of wildflowers, we turned down a dirt road that led us to not only larger patches of orange, yellow and purple daisy like flowers but to fine, white sand dunes with an empty wide beach beyond and the outline of Struisbaai barely discernible in the distance.

Southernmost Point of Africa

Struisbaai and L’Agulhas are quiet, clean and bright beach front towns without much of an actual beach. Instead the rocky shore is furnished with the occasional bench alongside a small parking area. Just beyond the lighthouse signs lead to the parking area for the southernmost point and the boardwalk that takes you to the actual point.

Nothing specific distinguishes this particular point from the rest of the shoreline other than the plaque and sign indicating the Atlantic Ocean is in one direction and the Indian Ocean in the other.

Lunch in L’Agulhas

Tried grilled cob for lunch in L’Agulhas. A firm flesh fish, also called cape salmon, with a mild flavor and somewhat oily texture but without the succulent quality of the fish it is named after.

Drive to Hermanus

From Struisbaai we took the dirt road that cuts across the cape to Gansbaai. There is no road that follows the coast, but the inland road is in good shape, for a dirt road, with few pot holes, more packed sand-like than gravel. We are able to make pretty good time, that is, if I don’t stop to take so many pictures. An interesting landscape of flat, undeveloped stretches mixed with cultivated fields and farm houses.

For an undistinguished area we encounter a surprising amount of wildlife. First, a couple of ostrich roam along the side of the road. On the wrong side of the fence, she freaks out when we stop to take a picture, crashing into the flimsy barbed wire to get away from us. A frightening sight that leaves me feeling guilty for having scared her so.

Later we pass a herd of antelope in the distance and a smaller group at a watering hole. Pairs of giant heron fly above us.

Once we hit the paved coastal road outside of Die Dam, the brush on both sides is so tall there isn’t anything to see but the road. Typical of SA coastal roads with only the occasional glimpse of the sea at a bend or highpoint, it’s long and straight with little traffic.


Hermanus, located on a cliff above a jagged shoreline, is known as a great spot for whale watching. Often the impressive mammals can be seen from the foot path that runs along its coastline.

138 Marine Beachfront Guesthouse

The 138 Marine Beachfront Guesthouse, recommended to us by Dan and Nancy, is a few kilometers west of Hermanus in Sandbaai on a quiet residential street facing the rocky shore. Two of the guestrooms and the public rooms of this contemporary house, done all in white, take full advantage of the view with walls of windows facing the sea. At night when the house is lit up it looks like a large display case of precious items.

Our bedroom, decorated in an understated sea theme in mostly white with blue accents, is comfortable and nicely appointed. However, it is the fabulous views and sound of the surf that makes the room.

Coatal Walk

Before sundowners we took a quick walk along the Hermanus costal path that runs through town. Jenna, the host at 138, kindly gave us a map indicating the prettiest part of the coastline – on the east end of town starting at Sievers Punt.

We could have make a decent walk of it getting a little exercise in the process, but with the surf high and dramatic, crashing time and time again into the rugged coastline, we were far too distracted by the sea to walk very fast or far. Instead we stopped at the numerous benches along the cliffs to marvel at the sea and take yet more pictures of the awesome explosions of water. An Incredible display of turbulence and power.

Back at the B&B, guests are invited to a glass of sherry and to watch the sunset from the lounge balcony. A clear evening with just a soft sea haze in the air, the sun was clearly visible as it hit the water above immense waves rolling into shore. Without a dramatic color display the sun quietly slips into the sea marking the end of the day.

Dinner at Bamboo Beach

Dinner was at Bamboo Beach, a converted garage of one of the neighborhood houses just around the corner from 138. Busy on a Saturday night the service was friendly and South African slow. Painted white with a funky contemporary vibe, it retains its spruced-up garage feel with minimal decorations and world beat type music playing in the background. Boasting a pizza oven up front, the menu includes an extensive selection of pizzas with a smaller list of daily specials on a chalkboard.

We ordered a pizza and the tandoori cape salmon. The pizza was ok, not great. The thin crust not as crispy and light as it should be. The cob was moist and nicely cooked, but the flavors of the fish on a bed of chickpeas missed the mark, a weird combination that was not quite Indian or anything else. Go for the atmosphere and slice of life aspect. Try somewhere else if you looking for great food.

October 8, 2011

For links to all the posts in this series see the South Africa page.

2 thoughts

    1. Hi Paul, I’m flattered that you want to use my photo. Thank you for asking. No problem as long as you site Cooking in Tongues as the source. Good luck with your book.

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