The wood-and-thatch chalets are perched on stilts for minimum impact on the dunes. They’re clean, spacious and well equipped, with a large wooden deck where we could lounge about for the whole day taking in the sights and sounds of the sea if we were too lazy to fish, hike, swim or search for marine creatures among the rocks.
The chalet's elevated position gives us an opportunity to experience the various faces of the park. When we arrived, the wind was howling and the chimney of the metal fireplace was clanging and clanking. It felt as though we were on a ship in stormy seas. The next morning dawned clear and still, the rhythm of the waves and the call of birds the only sounds. We enjoyed a hot and sunny day but by early evening, both chalets and sea disappeared behind a thick veil of mist. With changes like this, there’s certainly no chance to get bored.
But hang on, I can hear you thinking, Kruger has all that Big Five stuff to offer. Granted, but although Agulhas is still in the development stage and will reintroduce animals in time, it already has its own attractions. Like a spectacular sea view you won’t find anywhere at Kruger. Like endangered lowland and limestone fynbos. Of the 2 000 species of indigenous plants in the park, 100 are endemic to the area and more than 110 are Red Data species. In fact, I’m told that this bit of the Cape Floral Kingdom boasts a species-richness akin to that of tropical rain forests. That’s gotta be worth something.
Another attraction you won’t find at Kruger (much as I love the place) is the pristine coastline and coastal wetlands. Voëlvlei, for instance, is a magnet for a flotilla of birds while Soetendalsvlei is South Africa’s largest freshwater lake with access to the sea. And that’s not to mention the park’s history, from Stone Age Khoi middens and fish traps to the second-oldest working lighthouse in the country and a tidy little pile of shipwrecks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say one park is better than the other – each has its own special charms. And if Agulhas is expensive, so is Kruger, really. But if you’re after a wild and coastal experience at the southernmost tip of Africa – something that’s on many people’s ‘bucket lists’ – just suck it up, save some money, and come stay a night or two at the Agulhas rest camp. You won’t be sorry.
More about the area
Farm-style accommodation in the park
Agulhas walking trail
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