Words & pics Kate Collins
A flash of chocolate brown and white revealed itself as we made our way through Cape Point towards Olifantsbos. Edging closer, a herd of bontebok materialised. They gazed at us and then continued grazing, not at all fazed by the presence of our vehicle.
This sighting was the first of many that awaited us on the two-hour Thomas T Tucker shipwreck trail. The trail starts at the Olifantsbos parking lot. Olifantsbos cottage is just up the road and if you are overnighting, you will have been given the key to the padlock on the gate chain. But you don’t need to have a reservation to enjoy the walk. Anyone can explore the trail along this beautiful stretch of coastline.
We started out on a winding path dotted with jewel and star-shaped flowers. Beautiful vygies, gazanias, oxalis and many other wild beauties lay before us, inviting us to admire them. The path was soon replaced by a spotless white beach, littered only by dried-up kelp and broken seashells.
The next attraction along the beach is the wreck of the Thomas T Tucker, an American ‘Liberty Ship’ that struck the rocks while avoiding torpedoes in a night attack in 1942. Everybody on board survived, fortunately. Today you can see the wreck and imagine what it must have once looked like. Seagulls and African black oystercatchers now make use of the ship as a place to perch.
The path takes a turn and once again we were making our way along a narrow walkway with an incredible array of flora surrounding us. The path snaked up to a vantage point amongst the dunes where we could look back onto the beach, a great spot for sighting dolphins and whales playing in the surf.
This was also a good place to have a picnic. We sat with our sandwiches under the shade of a protea bush and watched as a klipspringer stood statue-like on a boulder not far away. This little antelope made a quick dash as we advanced, soon disappearing into the fynbos-covered landscape.
After two-and-a-half hours of walking, we found ourselves back at the parking lot, the tar paving a harsh reminder that our walk had come to an end. I now envied the visitors who had booked into the Olifantsbos cottage, they had the whole beach to themselves and the Shipwreck Trail on their doorstep.
The three routes that start and end at Olifantsbos vary in length, but all are easy: Thomas T Tucker shipwreck trail (3 km), Shipwreck circuit (5 km) and Sirkelsvlei circuit (6,5 km). Maps are available from the Buffelsfontein visitor centre.
At the parking lot, look out for the Thomas T Tucker sign on the left if you’re facing the sea, this is the start of all three routes.
Source: Wild Magazine