ARRIVAL DAY – Up to 18km (or less!)
Drive to the Cape St Francis Resort to arrive no later than 11h00. Your vehicle will stay here for the duration of the hike. We will take you to Oyster Bay, a trip of around 45 minutes to check in to the Oyster Kaya, your accommodation for the first night.
The full walk is around 18km but you can do as much or as little as you like, because it is an out-and-back trail along the coast to Thysbaai (if you have time and you can’t resist adding a beach walk, please note that the bay is 3km long). We suggest you walk out for no more than two and a half hours before turning back.
The trail follows the rugged coast line, through fynbos and low coastal thicket. It is peaceful and uninhabited, with only an occasional fisherman to be seen and the crashing waves and birdsong to be heard. At low tide you can see ancient fish traps in a rock gully, built over two thousand years ago by the KhoiSan. This walk will soothe your spirit and ease your body into the trail mode – and add extra enjoyment to the sundowners and dinner being prepared for you.
Should you be lucky to arrive early (or have spent an additional night in Oyster Bay), you can also enjoy a walk on the 8km Oyster Bay beach to Klippenpunt and back.
DAY TWO – 16km
After a hearty breakfast, you pick up your lunch pack, fill enough water bottles to last you at least 6 hours and set off down the road, leaving your luggage to be transported to your next overnight stop.
A guide will hike with you, mainly because it is impossible to mark the route, and the dunes are forever changing so a route description is also useless (we love the dunes so welcome any excuse to spend a day there!). You soon leave the quaint village of Oyster Bay behind and enter another world. Peace and tranquility take over as you walk through the bush, enjoying the birdsong in the coastal thicket on either side of you.
The track leads you to the dunes of the Oyster Bay Dune Bypass System, also referred to as the Sand River by the locals.
The dunefield is mobilised by wind and water. The prevailing westerly shapes the dunes, which slope gradually up in front of you and then drop steeply. Your challenge is whether to slide down or traverse! Remember to look across the countryside to the mountains in the north, the beautiful Kouga mountain range, and look around you for evidence of ancient cultures – a feature of the dunefield is the KhoiSan middens with artefacts like pot shards and shells.
The day’s hiking finishes at the Dune Ridge Country House, situated on a private conservation reserve. You will enjoy a well deserved drink around the swimming pool, before you find your room for the night.
DAY THREE – 15km
The day’s hiking starts with a trail through an indigenous coastal forest, where old man’s beard and mushrooms guard over roaming bush pigs and small buck.
After a few steep dunes (sorry!) you will cross into coastal thicket before you reach the Mostertshoek road. The trail meanders through a small group of holiday cottages at Mostertshoek and along the Wild Side, so named for the untamed sea that crashes onto the rocks in spectacular fashion the length of the trail. Look for otters in the rock pools and keep your eyes open for Oystercatchers, Kelp Gulls, Terns, and Turnstones.
Again you will be accompanied by a guide to make sure you don’t miss the second largest blow hole in Southern Africa, the remains of the Osprey (a shipwreck), an unmarked grave and more middens. After about 12km you will arrive at the village of Cape St Francis, passing Sunset Rock on your right. Sunset Rock is a favourite whale watching lookout point as well as a photographer’s dream for sunset seascapes.
From the Seal Point Lighthouse (which might be open), situated on the south eastern most point of Africa, the trail heads for the beautiful sweep of sandy beach of Cape St Francis where a blue drum marks the Cape St Francis Resort – your overnight stop. Your treat for the day is a sunset cruise on the famous St Francis canals before dinner is served in the Joe Fish Restaurant – enjoy!
DAY FOUR – 13km
You will continue your hike on the Cape St Francis beach towards Shark Point, where you often see tracks of the Cape Clawless Otter early in the morning.
Around the point you will see Port St Francis, the working harbour which is home to most of the chokka fleet, as well as hake and pilchard vessels, and other sea-going yachts and leisure craft. The local NSRI is also based here, doing sterling work off this very unpredictable coast. You will enjoy a tasting of calamari, hear more about the Chokka industry and see a chokka cleaning demo at Clive’s Chokka Block.
You will enjoy a farewell lunch with your guide before heading back to the Cape St Francis Resort. It will be possible to plan your depart from 14h00 onwards.