We love hiking. Going somewhere where hiking is possible is practically a prerequisite for choosing where we are going on vacation next (I’m looking at you Iceland and the Lake District). South Africa, of course, was no exception. Most people know it for its incredible wildlife, but it also boasts some of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever taken. Hiking the Robberg Peninsula in Plettenberg Bay is a must do if you are driving the Garden Route – it was one of the highlights during our three weeks in South Africa.
Hike the Robberg Peninsula
There are three lengths of hikes you can choose between on the Robberg Peninsula – 2km 4km hike, or the 9km hike (more on the shorter ones later). The 9km hike takes you completely around the peninsula, which I recommend doing. It will take you about four hours in total to do the hike (well, that includes if you stop for lunch), hiking at a fairly moderate pace.
I should warn you before you read on – if you’re afraid of heights, this hike most likely isn’t for you. Just take that into consideration before committing to the 9k trek. And you need to be physically fit, this isn’t an easy stroll. There are sections where you need to pull yourself up a very steep ascent over boulders – you will have to scramble with both your arms and your legs and will need to be able to pull yourself up.
Starting from the parking lot you’ll start with gorgeous views of Plettenberg Bay, first walking along a boardwalk – this is the busiest part since many visitors just go to this section and turn around. Don’t let the crowd discourage you, and keep on.
The colors of the water are absolutely stunning on this hike… I couldn’t stop taking pictures!
As you continue to hike the Robberg Peninsula, you’ll reach farther and farther until you beat the crowds, and start walking along a (pretty) narrow path. You might also notice a distinct smell coming from below… if you’re not afraid of heights, look down and see the seal colony sunbathing on the rocks below, splashing in the water and playing.
You’ll also pass through the Witsand Sand Dune, which seems somewhat other worldly after walking along the dramatic coast line.
Walking along the path on the edge of the peninsula, there’s not a lot of room for error – i.e., don’t lose your footing. It’s not exactly a sheer drop on the other side, but just about. So just keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. Honestly, although the sign in the parking lot shows a skull and cross bones on the other side of the peninsula, I thought this was one of the most dangerous parts.
Reaching the tip of the peninsula is the perfect place to stop and have lunch – just watch out for all of the ANTS! Ants, everywhere, biting you! I was so annoyed at this point from all the ants crawling over my ankles and constantly biting me. I probably looked like an idiot to the locals, but hey, I’m not used to aggressive ants!
As you turn to the other side of the peninsula, you’ll probably notice one major change – the wind picks up! Or at least it was incredibly windy on the day that we hiked there. That side is unprotected, so hold on to your hat. Make sure from here on out you look out for the green seal signs which indicate the route. Sometimes it can be unclear where to go next, and you need to be cautious to follow them since this side of the peninsula can be especially dangerous at high tide.
It was when we hiked the Robberg Peninsula that I realized that when South Africans call something a hike, they really mean it. When I looked up the steep rocky ascent and realized I’d need to pull myself up, I couldn’t help but think that this could be very dangerous if you’re not strong enough to pull yourself up – it’s also a bit intimidating to look up the sharp ascent and think crap, I have to get up there somehow. If you’re up for it, it’s a great challenge and is really rewarding to finish this hike.
As you get toward the end of the hike, after you’ve passed by the most tricky parts, you’ll come to the Island which extends from the sandy strip that you’ve seen at the beginning of your hike. Shortly before you get there, you’ll also notice a small house called the Fountain Shack. If you book in advance you can actually STAY HERE! We didn’t, but stopped and talked to a couple of guys who were renting it – there’s no electricity, and no running water – just views of the ocean. You’ll have to book pretty far in advance, but it seemed like the perfect place to disconnect.
What if you don’t want to hike the whole 9k?
No problem, there are shorter routes.
- The Gap: This 2k hike takes you to (you guessed it) a gap between the rocky formations on the peninsula. Much of this hike is on a boardwalk
- Witsand Sand Dune and the Island and back: This hike is 4k will take you to the picturesque Witsand Sand Dune and the beautiful Island – two of the main highlights of the hike
- The Point: this is the hike mentioned here. As far as I’ve read, its 9k, though some sites quote 11k. Either way, you’ll be in for about four hours of hiking.
What to bring when you hike the Robberg Peninsula
Anytime you hike, don’t leave without enough water – since this hike is 9k, I’d bring 1 liter of water per person, but hey, I’m no expert – I always try to bring more water than I think I’ll need.
Lunch or snacks – over the course of 4 hours hiking you’re going to be bound to get hungry, so I would definitely recommend bringing something to snack on. It costs a lot of energy to go on an intense hike, so make sure you’re fueled up to enjoy it.
A hat: the sun can be really strong in South Africa, so make sure you’re not getting burned on your scalp while you hike – ouch!
And while you’re at it… bring plenty of sunblock – and apply generously!
Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay
We stayed at the beautiful Sea Breeze Beach House, which is conveniently just a short drive from both the Robberg Peninsula and from the center of the town where you’ll find the restaurants. The hotel is also just a short walk from the beach. This was one of our favorite accommodations from our 3 weeks in South Africa. There are tons of cute touches in the hotel (I loved the door pulls in the shape of animal heads… but hey, I’d just come from safari so maybe I was a bit biased!), the towels are fluffy, the beds are comfortable and the breakfast is delicious!
Sea Breeze was ideal for our stay in Plett, and we’d definitely stay there again if we go back.
Have you hiked the Robberg Peninsula? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!