The Robberg Hiking Trail is probably one of the most popular and well known hikes in the area and also one of the most scenic. The route is a circular trail along the Robberg peninsula with two shorter variations available ranging from easy to moderate.
This is not recommended for your regular Saturday afternoon stroll or when you are just bored. However, when you’ve done it, you’ll have to agree it really is special – one of a kind. If you are interested in geology you will find it inspiring.
A fee of R50 is charged per adult. There is ample parking, a visitors centre as well as braai facilities should you decide not to do the hike. There are also toilets which you are advised to visit as there are no such amenities along the way. Make sure you have enough water as there is none along the way and it can become extremely hot. Hats, sun block and suitable hiking shoes are essential. Be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. If you are planning on visiting The Island, check tide tables at the entrance gate. Beware of freak waves and strong currants at all times. Don’t take short cuts over the rocks. Be sure to start out early and walk clockwise.
There is a choice of three circular routes of increasing distance and difficulty.
1. Walk to The Gap and back to the car park, round about 2km.
2. Walk to The Witsand sand dune and down to The Island and back round about 4km.
3. The round trip via The Point is 11km and takes four hours or more. Not recommended for young children.
The path to The Point climbs the steep rocky slope which has a sheer drop from the path. Take care not to go too close to the edge of the cliff.
Take heed of the sign warning of the extreme danger of unstable sand on the north side of Robberg. You will probably hear the Cape fur seals barking before you spot them. Envy their lifestyle as they don’t seem to do much more than laze on the rocks, float in the water and have their barking conversations. Look out for dassies as they scurry for cover under rocks. Other animal life includes grey buck, duiker and bushbuck. Cape claw-less otters and mongooses are occasionally seen. Robberg is the ideal vantage point for whales and dolphins. Even orcas, also known as killer whales, have been spotted in the Bay. There are also numerous bird species like Cape Robins, Cape white-eyes, red-winged starlings and orange-breasted Sunbirds to name but a few. Stop for a moment and admire the majestic Tsitsikamma Mountains. The Point is the ideal place to stop for eats and watch the large numbers of Swift Terns and Kelp Gulls. This must be their favorite roosting place as the rocks are white with their droppings. Check out the magnificent anemone in the rock pools if you happen to be there at low tide. Sadly the Point Shack was demolished by a monster-wave on September 1st 2008 and all that is left is a heap of rubble. However, the Fountain Shack has recently been renovated and is available for overnight hiking. It sleeps 8 and the facilities are basic.
Past the shack ruin is arguably the most beautiful section of the trail. The huge sandstone boulders are brightly coloured by orange lichens and form a stark contrast with the blue-green sea. Along this section you have to negotiate a narrow ledge on a vertical rock face above the sea with the help of a fixed chain. If you find this daunting, choose the high route which takes you over and above this section. From here you pass The Fountain Shack and then onto the beach connecting Robberg with The Island.
With a boardwalk around it’s perimeter The Island is well worth a visit. The breeding success of Kelp Gulls has improved greatly since the introduction of this inviting boardwalk. The views down to the pools and the rock formations are magnificent. All that remains is a walk along the beach back to the mainland where the trail takes you back to the parking area. Be careful on the rocks along the return loop, particularly if they are wet. Before you climb up to the peninsula on the south side of The Gap, take the steps down to the secluded little Gap Beach and marvel at the conglomerate rock of rounded pebbles set in sandstone to the right of this beach.
P.S Cameras are compulsory!
A national monument steeped in history, with prehistoric rocks and Stone Age artefacts
Robberg Nature Reserve, situated 8km south of Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, is not only a nature reserve, but also a national monument. Rocks from this region date back 120 million years to the break-up of Gondwanaland and evidence of middle and later Stone Age inhabitation has been found in a few of the caves along the peninsula. Visitors can find out more at the Nelson Bay Cave interpretive centre.
Some highlight features of a visit here include spotting the rare blue duiker, the Western Cape’s smallest antelope; walking alongside one of the seven climbing-falling dunes on the Cape coastline; and viewing the highest navigational light on the South African coastline, at the Cape Seal Lighthouse (146m above sea level). The reserve also extends 1.8km offshore, providing protection to a range of vulnerable fish species. Visitors can expect inspiring landscapes, exciting dolphin and whale sightings in season, and to be accompanied on their walks or hikes by a variety of bird species and the occasional seal. An overnight hut is available for those who want to spend more time on this beautiful reserve.
To find out more, download the Robberg Nature Reserve Brochure.
How to get there
From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway towards Plettenberg Bay. On approaching, take the Piesang Valley turn-off. Follow for 3km until you get to Robberg Road. Continue for 4kms towards the Plettenberg Airport. Turn left at the “Robberg” sign and continue until you reach the entrance gate.
GPS Co-ordinates: 34 06 15.30 S 23 23 31.56 E
Tel: 044 533 2125/85