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Cape Agulhas Development Enhances Africa’s Southernmost Experience

Author: Selene Brophy - 28 March 2024

The Cape Agulhas National Park upgrade, worth R54 million, is set to be completed in June. 

South Africa’s Department of Tourism marked the near-completion of the Lighthouse Precinct project this week as part of its R94 million investment into 25 tourism upgrade projects across the country.

Enhanced Visitor Experiences at Cape Agulhas

Cape Agulhas, a must-do attraction for most visitors to Cape Town, holds the unique title of the continent’s southernmost point. This distinction sets it apart from the spectacularly rugged Cape Point, which is often confused as the southern tip of Africa. 

The attraction, described as a geographical marvel, drew over 26,500 visitors in 2023, about 31% lower than in 2019, when visitor numbers peaked at 38,271.

The Cape Agulhas project, a two-phase project, saw its first phase completed in 2018. But Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille, who made a progress visit to the park on Tuesday, says this is not just an infrastructural upgrade.

De Lille stated that the enhancements are designed to increase visitor numbers and encourage tourists to extend their stay in the region.

 

Key points of the Cape Agulhas Phase 2 Upgrade:

  • Infrastructure Enhancements: These include a new restaurant, an interpretation center with vendor stalls, a lecture theatre, and revamped reception areas.
  • Community Benefits: Employment of 77 individuals, including youth and women, and engagement with local subcontractors.
  • Progress: 73% is complete, with full completion expected by June.

 

South African Minister of Tourism Patricia De Lille and delegates during a progress visit to the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Precinct.

The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Precinct Project forms part of the department’s ongoing maintenance projects, with 22 of these near complete and three are still under construction.

De Lille also outlined a number of community-based tourism infrastructure projects underway in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State, North West, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Northern Cape. These projects have an investment value of R676.44 Million and have “so far created 605 jobs.”

Plans for a new Kruger gate in the northern region to increase tourism to South Africa’s flagship park are continuing after logistical and community input delays. Kruger saw over 1.6 million visitors between March 2023 and mid-March 2024, with recovery to 2019 pre-pandemic tourist numbers only expected in 2025.  

READ: Kruger’s New Gate to Grow Tourism + SA’s Top Parks to Visit in 2024

Augrabies National Park in the Northern Cape is the only park out of SANParks’ 19 national parks that exceeded its 2019 visitor numbers last year.

De Lille remains convinced that investing in enhancing South Africa’s tourism experiences will “creating the conditions conducive for further investment by the private sector.”

“Investment in infrastructure by government shows the private sector that we are serious about growing our tourism offering,” said De Lille.

“As a top tourist destination, we remain committed to constantly diversifying and growing our tourism offering so that we remain an attractive destination that keeps visitors coming back.”

How to Have an Unforgettable Visit to the Southernmost Tip of Africa

Located in the Southern Overberg of the Western Cape, the Cape Agulhas National Park stretches between the towns of Gansbaai and Struisbaai.  

Cape Agulhas and its surrounding attractions offer a compelling itinerary addition to a safari experience in South Africa. They combine scenic beauty, maritime history, and vibrant local culture. 

Start your day trip early or plan an overnight stay in the area: The drive to Cape Agulhas takes about 3 hours, offering stunning landscape and coastal views. 

Farm Stall Stops: Enjoy a hearty breakfast at one of the local farm stalls, like Peregrine or Houw Hoek Farm Stall. These spots offer fresh, locally sourced produce and baked goods in a cozy setting.

Small Dorpie Visits: There are many interesting towns or dorpies as they’re referred to, worth visiting en route to Cape Agulhas:

  • Grabouw, in the heart of the Elgin Valley, is known for its abundant fruit orchards. The area is also gaining a reputation for its cool-climate wines from vineyards like Charles Fox MCC Vineyard. 
  • Explore the Elgin Railway Market, set in an old apple warehouse now transformed into a bustling hub of artisanal vendors, food stalls, and live music. It’s an excellent spot to experience local crafts, cuisine, and culture.
  • Bredasdorp offers an optional visit to The Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum for maritime history enthusiasts.
  • The Struisbaai Harbor is a wonderful spot to watch local fishermen bring in their catch and take snaps of the colorful boats. You might glimpse Parrie, the resident stingray known to frequent the harbor waters. 

 

 

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Top Things to Do at Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Precinct:

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse: Climb the iconic Cape Agulhas Lighthouse for panoramic views of where two oceans meet. The lighthouse also houses a small museum worth exploring.

Southernmost Tip of Africa: A short drive or walk from the lighthouse, visit the geographical southern tip of Africa. Snapping a photo at the famous sign is a must, marking where the Atlantic and Indian oceans converge.

Fynbos Explorations: Immerse yourself in the unique biodiversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom on guided nature walks in the area.

Shipwreck Trail: View the wreck of the Meisho Maru No 38 that ran aground in 1982, amongst other ships that succumbed to the treacherous waters off the coast.  

 

Want to add Cape Agulhas to a broader South African safari itinerary? Contact our Discover Africa travel experts to plan your adventure.

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