I can jabber on about the chalets on stilts in the Agulhas National Park like a lovesick teenager (read my guide to Agulhas National Park here). But if the sights and sounds of the sea aren’t your cup of tea and you want a totally different experience, you can book a renovated old farmhouse a few kilometres inland.
But for me, the most interesting thing is how varied the landscapes at Agulhas are. From the coastal plain with its rocky shoreline (where the new rest camp is), it’s a journey into another world when you drive just 20–30 kilometres inland. First you pass vleis that still reveal evidence of the salt-mining that used to take place here until a few decades ago. Then you reach flat farmlands and the old farmhouses of Rhenosterkop, Bergplaas and Rietfontein.
The atmosphere at Rhenosterkop is entirely different from our sea chalet, less restless and more olde-world farmy. A strategically placed small tree provides shade so you can sit and relax over your braai, and the houses’ thick walls and thatch roofs help with insulation too.
I’m told that the idea for the thatch roofs with rounded end gables that you see here was brought to the Strandveld by the many Scotsmen who were shipwrecked along this coastline and made their lives here. The purpose of the design was to reduce the effect of the strong winds. Because trees were scarce in this barren landscape, locals used wood from shipwrecks to make window frames, doors, rafters and other items.
The name Rhenosterkop comes from the skull of a black rhino that was found here many years ago and is still preserved in a museum nearby. It’s an interesting peek into the animal life that once occurred here, even though nowadays grysbok, steenbok, caracal and honey badger are about all that’s left, unless you count the marine species like seals, dolphins and whales. In time, once this relatively new park reaches maturity, the plan is to reintroduce some of the species that historically occurred here.
Who says you can't have it all? I can't wait.
More about the area
Agulhas walking trail
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