by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Mid-July we went way down south. To Cape Agulhas. The southernmost tip of Africa. Next stop Antarctica, which is appropriate since its mid-winter. We stayed in a chalet at Agulhas National Park.
Despite the car, with lunch and a walk at Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, we arrived in good time, still light and we could enjoy the sunset.
Next day we went on the Two Oceans Hiking Trail. We walked along the shore and wound thru the dunes. Driving the landscape looks deceptively flat, but on foot we wound up, and down. To limestone ridges then edging along valleys. On the shore we saw African black oystercatchers and perhaps a glimpse of whale. The chalets are graciously set back, close enough for a sea view, far enough that you can walk along the shore in nature.
As always I came home with rocks, five pebbles from the beach, from BOTH oceans. I was intrigued by the way the waves scalloped the shore here.
It is a fierce rocky shore. Agulhas (= needles) was named by early Portuguese navigators since they could rely on their compass pointing due north here.
Agulhas National Park was proclaimed in 1999. Those original 4 hectares are now 21 000 hectares. Accommodation includes the former farmhouses, some historic off-grid cottages and our comfortable (with an extra blanket please) chalets. Sadly off-road vehicles have trashed the environment and a Khoisan shell midden. The former trail goes diagonally across the picture. Bottom and left you can still see the exposed sand, top and right with kindness and care the vegetation reclaims its rightful space.
Lowland and limestone fynbos with some renosterveld. In July Agulhas became a World Heritage site. Some I recognise, Metalasia muricata, and Erica coccinea?, a buchu. And some I don't a silvery thistle with tiny leaves.
Red Lachenalia with spotted leaves. Yellow daisies and berries on bietou Chyrsanthemoides monilifera. An unknown bulb with sculptural leaves. Semi-parasite Hyobanche with pink furry flower spikes.
Cape Agulhas is where the geographers answer the question - where do the two oceans meet? The east coast is the warm Indian Ocean with reefs and turtles. Ours is the cold west coast where the trawlers fish in the Atlantic Ocean, kelp forests, penguins and whales.
It was my 60th birthday and I chose to be in sight and sound of the sea. To spend the day hiking along the seashore and among fynbos. The bunch of flowers was a surprise there!