Often referred to as the Cape Point of the Garden Route, Robberg nature reserve and marine protected area forms a long narrow peninsula that stretches out for approximately 4 kms into the sea. The terrestrial nature reserve is bordered by a productive and critically important marine protected area that host’s whales, dolphins, seals, sharks and numerous critically endangered line-fish species. There is also a rich human history dating back some 120 000 years with Nelsons Cave providing some of the best evidence of the Stone Age inhabitants. Scenery is spectacular and an excellent system of trails offers three choices of circular hiking routes of increasing difficulty and distance.
Incredible views of sheer beauty are to be had from standing on top of the high cliffs near the entrance to the reserve. Standing a good 200 meters above the sea, one overlooks a u-shaped bay where waves roll forward in long lines to rise and break in the shallows. Pods of bottlenose dolphins patrol the back line of the waves and break away occasionally to play with speed and dexterity amongst the breaker line, leaping out the back of the waves or spinning out below them as the waves smash into a white foam. Out to sea, during late summer, bait-balls of small pelagic fish attract hundreds of feeding Cape gannets, common dolphins and Bryde’s whales that churn up the surface into a white froth of activity. Sub-Antarctic skuas and swift and sandwich terns benefit from the larger predators by dipping down to pluck at scraps and smaller fish driven to the surface by the other hunters.
On the beaches far below the cliffs, pairs of African black oystercatchers probe their long red dagger-like bills deep into the sand to pull out buried isopods that are quickly swallowed. Small flocks of kelp gulls, white-breasted cormorants and Cape cormorants also rest and preen above the high tide mark on the sandy beaches.
There is a Cape fur seal colony on the western side of the peninsula beyond the “Gap”. Viewed from the high vantage point of the cliffs, hundreds of seals frolicking in the shallow clear waters may be seen and for those with patience, occasional great white sharks may be watched as they patrol near the colony in search of a high-protein meal. This seal colony is highly popular amongst visitors, who through registered tour operators may kayak and swim with them or cruise close by them on a marine-mammal watching vessel.
Given the good network of trails through the reserve that pass close to the coastline, trail running and jogging is a popular past time and with the incredible beauty of the run and the strenuousness of the trail routes, few places can offer a better place to exercise amongst another of South Africa's wild gems!
For more information please do visit Marine Protected Areas South Africa and also please help spread the news in support of our MPAs.