Robberg Peninsula in Plettenberg Bay is a CapeNature reserve. There is a well maintained trail running around the entire peninsula, and it is most definitely one of my all-time favourites.
Getting there: Follow the airport road from town and look for the turn-off to the left
GPS Coordinates: -34.100685, 23.376989
Entry: R40 for adults
Difficulty: fairly strenuous walk with some boulder hopping and mild exposure
I lived in Knysna for two years. During that time I did not take advantage of my surroundings to the extent I should have, however, walking around Robberg was one of the walks I did do, and it remains a favourite today that I repeat whenever I am in the area. It is an amazing walk, and if you are a trail runner, it is one of the most spectacular runs you can treat yourself to!
The trail is designed and signposted in a clockwise direction. The trail is varied, and includes sections where you will be boulder hopping along the water’s edge, and crossing sand-dunes and beaches.
The north side is steeper and you are mostly fairly high up on the peninsula with views of the usually calm and always beautiful Bahia Formosa (beautiful bay). You definitely need to take water on the route as you will be exposed to wind and sun at all times and there is almost no shade on the route.
Park in the parking lot and set out along the trail as it heads down a wooden stairway to a viewing deck. Look out for the infoboard explaining the geology of the peninsula. The different layers of rock are clearly exposed at many points and it is fascinating to understand how they were formed. From here, continue down the trail into The Gap, and then climb back up immediately to the left. The trail is well constructed and includes shiny stainless steel safety railings that are very “Plett”, darling. As you are reaching the 2km mark you will start to smell, and then hear, the colony of Cape Fur seals on the rocky, sheltered shoreline below. On a calm day the water is crystal clear and you will see these large mammals swimming casually in the water and basking on the rocks. As you reach the 2km mark you will drop down to what is in fact the top of the Witsand (“white sand”) dune — more about this later.
The south side faces the open ocean and is wilder and you will mostly be on the rocks right at the water’s edge. You will be more exposed to the elements which on a hot day usually means a pleasant, cool sea-breeze.
The harsh, salty environment makes its mark on the surroundings, but keep your eyes open and you will spot Oystercatchers, gulls and cormorants, as well as a magnificent display of Chandelier Lilies (January to April) and more. You will pass the Fountain Shack which is an old fishing shack that was renovated a while back and can be rented for the night. As part of the upgrade to The Shack there is now a drinking water tap at the sign on the trail for hikers to use.
Shortly after this you will reach the tombola joining The Island to the peninsula. The Island is worth the quick diversion. Well constructed wooden boardwalks have been built to protect the seabird colonies. Please stay on them. The sand that forms the tombola is trapped by The Island. Additionally, the wind drives this sand up the slope of the peninsula, form the Witsand dune, the top of which you crossed earlier in the day. The sand is driven up over the crest of the peninsula where it tumbles down the other side, contributing to the sandy beaches that Plett is famous for.
The coast is well know among archaeologists, take a moment to stop below the midden to learn how man survived on this coastline in the past. Plett was popular long before the Gautengers discovered it!