A national monument steeped in history, with prehistoric rocks and Stone Age artefacts
Robberg, situated 8km south of Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, is not only a nature reserve, but also a national monument and World Heritage Site. Rocks from this region date back 120 million years to the break-up of Gondwanaland and evidence of middle and later Stone Age inhabitation has been found in a few of the caves along the peninsula. Visitors can find out more at the Nelson Bay Cave interpretive centre.
Some highlight features of a visit here include spotting the rare blue duiker, the Western Cape’s smallest antelope; walking alongside one of the seven climbing-falling dunes on the Cape coastline; and viewing the highest navigational light on the South African coastline, at the Cape Seal Lighthouse (146m above sea level). The reserve also extends 1.8km offshore, providing protection to a range of vulnerable fish species. Visitors can expect inspiring landscapes, exciting dolphin and whale sightings in season, and to be accompanied on their walks or hikes by a variety of bird species and the occasional seal. An overnight hut is available for those who want to spend more time on this beautiful reserve.
Watch this video for a taste of Robberg Nature Reserve
To find out more, download the Robberg Nature Reserve Brochure.
Robberg Nature Reserve has been awarded ECO Certification by Ecotourism Australia.
How to get there
From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway towards Plettenberg Bay. On approaching, take the Piesang Valley turn-off. Follow for 3km until you get to Robberg Road. Continue for 4kms towards the Plettenberg Airport. Turn left at the “Robberg” sign and continue until you reach the entrance gate.
GPS Co-ordinates: 34 06 15.30 S 23 23 31.56 E
Office hours: 08:00–17:00
Tel: +27 (0)44 533 2125/85
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190
Overlooking the Indian ocean, with spectacular views of the Robberg Peninsula, the renovated wooden shack sleeps eight people in four double bunk beds in an open-plan room. Only one group can book at a time.
Fountain Shack cannot be reached by vehicle and the route takes about two hours to walk (the route is not suitable for young children and should not be attempted in rain, mist or darkness).
The route is marked with a seal icon which starts at the car park. Follow the route onto a boardwalk and turn right at the Fountain Shack signboard. Follow the boardwalk until it gives way to rock rambling. Please regard this stretch with extreme caution because of strong winds and sheer cliffs! There is another route through Witsand which takes 20 minutes longer but is safer. Do not lose your way with all the rocks – there are cement steps that should guide you. The next stretch is a 600m beach walk that leads onto a footpath into the last section of climbing again before you see Fountain Shack. On departure, you can take the same route back or continue with the circular route past the Point – that route is strenuous with plenty of climbs and will take approximately six hours to the car park. The walk to the hut requires a reasonably high level of fitness.
Please phone 0445332125/85 or 082 8777435 to enquire about weather conditions before embarking on your journey to Robberg. CapeNature reserves the right to cancel a booking if there are adverse weather conditions.
Available at the Fountain Shack: two pots, a pan, a braai grid and tongs, a kettle, tripod, stainless steel mugs, plates and wine goblets, bunk beds (with mattresses and covers and pillows), an outside shower and an Enviro Loo, a gas bottle with a cooker top, solar power for lighting, limited water and hot water for shower, solar operated freezer.
Not available at the Fountain Shack: electricity, bedding, firewood, firelighters, supply of water (rainwater may be available).
We supply an overnight bag per group (which you collect and drop off at the entrance gate and need to carry yourself) containing: matches; rags, a black bag to collect your waste which must be brought out with you; a set of keys for the hut and toilet.
Remember to bring: extra wood (optional), drinking water; a First Aid Kit, firelighters, torch, sleeping bag; mosquito repellent; shoes with a firm grip for rock rambling; sunhat; sun protection cream; warm clothes for the evenings; bio-degradable toilet paper (although we supply twice a week we can not guarantee stock); bait for fishing (it is not permitted to make bait in the reserve). Rodney Manual can be contacted for a portage service at 0799338229
• Although there are signboards asking day hikers to pass by, it will be necessary to secure the shack and the Enviro Loo when leaving the shack to explore the area.
• Beware dangerous currents when swimming, snorkeling or diving.
• On your day of departure, please clean the shack for the next group – there only one cleaning service per week – and take all your waste with you (black bags provided in your overnight kit) and lock the shack and the loo. The bag and keys must be handed to the gate guard.
• Please use the water sparingly when showering – the shower is only fed by rainwater of which there is a limited supply.
Arrival/Departure: Last departure times in order to reach The Fountain Shack before dark are 15:00 in winter and 16:30 in summer. The entrance gate times are: 08:00 to 20:00 (1 October – 30 April) and 8:00 to 18:00 (1 May to 31 September). No entrance or exit is possible outside these times. Departure time is 10:00 and arrival time is after 14:00.
Please refrain from: smoking, disturbing any plants or animals in the reserve or in the marine area, littering, bait collecting, fishing without a valid permit, the misuse of alcohol.
The three circular routes on offer vary in terms of distance and difficulty. Regardless of the route, visitors must always wear hiking shoes, sunblock and hats. Water and warm clothing is essential, as the weather can change suddenly.
The three trails on offer range in time from a 30-minute stroll to a four-hour hike. All offer fantastic views, brisk sea air and sightings of the birds of the peninsula.
Help us protect nature
No littering/no pets/no fires except at designated spots/no fishing without a permit.
Permits may be purchased for R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.
Trail distance: 2.1km
Estimated time: 30 minutes
The shortest and easiest route that heads straight into a mudstone cleft, which has evidence of the prehistoric break-up of Gondwanaland 120 million years ago. Do not stand near cliffs, particularly if the wind is very strong.
Trail distance: 5.5km
Estimated time: 2 hours
The trail leads along the northern ridge of the peninsula and onto the wind-shadow of the climbing-falling dune, before heading down to the tombolo and boardwalk. Hikers will pass above the resident seal colony along the way and encounter a colony of kelp gulls at the end of the trail. Do not stand near cliffs, particularly if the wind is very strong.
Trail distance: 9.2km
Estimated time: 4 hours
This is a fairly strenuous walk and not recommended for young children. The trail heads up the north ridge to the Point and then back along the southern rocky shoreline. A highlight is encountering the hundreds of gannets, cormorants and terns at the Point. Do not stand near cliffs, particularly if the wind is very strong.
The Robberg Peninsula is conserved for several reasons. The mainland connects to an island through a spit called a tombolo. This results from waves sweeping around both sides of the island. Similar to other rocky headlands on this coastline, Robberg Peninsula supports a diverse array of plants and animals that have adapted to this land/sea ecology.
But what sets it apart is the distinctive climbing-falling dune (one of only seven on this coastline). The bedrock of the peninsula was dated to the prehistoric breaking up of Gondwanaland and evidence of this can be seen at several sites. Besides the unique and fascinating typography, evidence of middle and later Stone Age inhabitation was found in a few of the caves. It is for this reason that the reserve was proclaimed a national monument. The rare blue duiker (the smallest antelope in the Western Cape) and the vulnerable sex-changing roman fish are just two of the species that find sanctuary in this marine reserve.
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We recently hiked the 9k trail around the Point. As active 73yr olds (despite replacement knees and hips) we are used to walking. There was nothing on the trail map we were given at the entrance to prepare us for the gruelling nature of this hike with all its ups and downs, rock scrambling and climbing. We completed the course in 6.5 hrs and thought ourselves lucky to be only bruised, scraped and exhausted. We would not have undertaken it if we had known what lay ahead.
Better descriptions of each trail are definitely needed!
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