A Hike through Robberg Nature Reserve

It has been a while since our last hike – farm life has been keeping us busy with adventures of a different kind – but when the opportunity arose to hike through Robberg, Damian and I both jumped at the chance. A fellow volunteer joined us so we were happy to have company on what we had been told was a difficult walk. Our aim was the lighthouse, which is at the point – and the longest route of 9.2km. I thought setting out that it was a bit ambitious for me to attempt a 9.2km hike with Damian on my back on rugged terrain, but I went with the mindset that we would give it a go and see how much we managed.

The pathways as well as the surroundings are so diverse within this relatively small area – rough stoned paths transform into large, smooth-pebbled paths and again into rocky stairways, then yet again into beach sand trails through bush and fynbos. Not long into the walk I noticed a strange smell which got stronger as we progressed. As I wondered about this odour harassing my senses, the tribal barking sounds below alerted me to the source – the seal colony playing in the water far below us.

Up rocks and down rocks, through bush, over beach and down dunes – in a shorter time than expected we found ourselves at the point. Standing on the rocky ledges with the wind whipping through our hair we watched seals diving through the tumultous waves below and we are almost certain we saw a large fin break the surface and slice slowly through the waves…

We tried to make our way up to the lighthouse through dense fynbos, but realised we couldn’t get through from where we were, so decided to continue around the point for the full round-trip trail. The last photo I took was of a little rock lizard before attempting to climb down a steep rock face – where my camera went crashing down into the rocks below. Our companion went to retrieve all the pieces and we couldn’t find one of of my rechargeable batteries. Loathe to ‘litter’ in a nature reserve, I was worried about leaving it behind. “Do you think it will be bad if I can’t find it?” I asked. “It’s not so good for nature, I’m sure – but nature took it from you so there is nothing you can do” was the response I got. The signboard indicating our location and the rest of the route showed two areas with skull and crossbones – advising of difficult sections on the route.

“Everybody says everything is dangerous in South Africa,” our friend commented, “but so far I have found it is just a warning to be cautious.” So we decided to continue along the rocks, with the waves crashing close by. Soon we found the section we assumed we had been warned about – it involved some serious rock-climbing. Not one to back down without trying, I gave it my best attempt with Damian on my back before deciding it was actually too dangerous and too difficult with a child on my back. Some other hikers were climbing down from the other direction and told us it only gets worse further on and they wouldn’t advise that I continue with Damian. So we turned around and went back the way we came – adding quite a number of kilometres to the expected length of our walk.

The way back took considerably longer – perhaps because we were considerably more tired and it was extremely hot by this point. When we got to the last stretch, our friend decided on an alternate route which provided more shade – and more climbing up rocks. My legs were shaky by this point but just one foot in front of the other got us closer to the end. I was rather relieved to see the carpark – though Damian was adamant he wanted to keep walking…

It really was one of the most magnificent hikes I have done – but also one of the most difficult. We estimated we walked between 12 and 14 kilometres in total – quite something with 20kg on my back.

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