Must-Visit Places Along the Oystercatcher Trail - Cassandra Dodd
Cassandra Dodd - Must-Visit Places Along the Oystercatcher Trail
The late Miriam Makeba once said: “Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them”. The coastline of South Africa, and the Garden Route, in particular, boasts a natural beauty unlike any you have ever seen. It has been estimated that visitation to the area increased by 14% between 2015 and 2016 with an exceptionally busy festive season being predicted for this year. One of the countless world-class attractions on the route is the Oystercatcher Trail, which stretches between the St. Blaize Cave and the Gourits River. The trail passes through a number of destinations of which the following three are undoubtedly worth a mention.
The picturesque Boggoms Bay is situated a mere 26 km from Mossel Bay and offers visitors an entire kilometer long untouched, striking beach. The beach is not only immensely popular with anglers but with hikers as well, which is precisely why it has been incorporated into the ever-popular Oystercatcher Trail. If you want to cool down after a long walk on a balmy, summer’s day, you can bath at one of two designated swimming areas that are open year-round. Due to the fact that Boggoms Bay forms part of the Garden Route conservation area, there are no shops in the immediate area, necessitating hikers to stop for supplies and refreshments in town or even pack a picnic basket for an idyllic picnic amongst the dunes. The South African sun can be relentless so remember to lather on the sunscreen, even in winter and don’t forget to bring along your binoculars and camera. Boggoms Bay is known to be home to an impressive variety of plant, bird and animal life and if you are lucky you may even see dolphins and whales frolicking in the surf.
Long before European explorers discovered Vleesbaai, the area was occupied by the native Khoi people. Today, most of the original Khoi have been relocated and Vleesbaai has become known as a seaside vacation town. The southern side of Vleesbaai is protected by the Fransmanshoek Peninsula which effectively shelters the bay from open-sea currents which makes for very popular swimming conditions. The beaches are popular among hikers, both local and those visiting from abroad, with those participating in the Oystercatcher Hiking Trail making their way through the town on the fourth day of their excursion. Wildlife is in abundance here with Oystercatcher birds with their bright red beaks being a common sight on the rocks and amongst the dunes. Marine animals also frequent the bay with dolphins, in particular, enjoying the occasional romp close to shore. If you are a 4x4 enthusiast you will be happy to learn that the sand dunes between Vleesbaai and Kanon are a popular 4x4 route, offering 12km of thrilling driving with a beautiful view.
When passing through Pinnacle Point you will feel yourself being enveloped by the historical significance of the area. The archaeological sites at Pinnacle Point have revealed some of the first evidence of modern human behavior and have been declared a Provincial Heritage Site with good reason. Pinnacle Point also boasts a breathtaking beach that is completely secluded and sheltered from the wind. The area abounds with vegetation, smaller animals, and birdlife and is a hotspot for ardent photographers wanting to capture the untouched beauty of the Garden Route. The outstretched sandy beaches are ideal for hiking and also make for an ideal playground for the children. If you want to enjoy a round of golf you can visit the nearby Pinnacle Point Golf Estate or, instead, enjoy some open sea fishing while the rest of the family explores the countless rock pools that are brimming with interesting marine life.
Enhance your Oystercatcher experience
Apart from your regular hiking kit which includes your sun hat, water bottle, and hiking boots you can enhance you Oystercatcher Trail experience by investing in a number of additional helpful items that will make your hike even more enjoyable. If you are exploring the area on your own, a map, compass or GPS device might be a good idea to help prevent you from getting lost while a first aid kit designed for the outdoors always comes in handy when needing to treat minor injuries and ailments. Always carry a lightweight yet weatherproof jacket with you as the South African weather is known to change at the drop of the hat, resulting in a seemingly sunny day turning cold and gloomy almost instantaneously.
With all the exquisite natural beauty of the area, it is simply impossible to not be left in complete awe while visiting the Oystercatcher Trails. Regardless of which trail you opt for, you are bound to experience the experience the untouched splendor of the Garden Route at its best – the way Mother Nature intended it to be.