The Witsand Hike
Robberg Nature Reserve (South Africa)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Robberg Nature Reserve (South Africa)
Advantages: An interesting and varied Coastal walk
Disadvantages: Be prepared for changing weather
When we were staying in Knysna, on South Africa's Garden Route we took a drive out to Plettenberg Bay one afternoon. Robberg Penninsula is a lovely conservation area a bit further round the bay and there are a three official walks to do. This coastal region has changeable weather and you are advised to stick to the paths and be prepared for changeable weather conditions. We were here in August, so winter in this part of the world, and rain showers are to be expected. There was a conservation fee of R25 (£2.20/US$3.30) when I visited, and a discount for children.
The Gap circuit is 2km and estimated to take 30 minutes
The Witsand walk is 5.5km and expected to take 2 hours
The Point Circuit is 9km and is expected to take 4 hours.
All routes are circular and run clockwise - the longer routes take in much of the shorter routes so you don't miss very much. We did the Witsand walk and I found the time estimation to be accurate. Parts of the walk are on clear footpaths and even boardwalks, but part of it is scrambling along and up slippery rocks. Paths are generally narrow and you are sometimes quite close to the edge, where there is a drop. Parts of the walk may be inaccessible or liable to be cut off at high tide, but high tide had passed when we commenced our walk, but is something that you may need to factor in when planning a trip here.
As you walk you may see some seals on the rocks or beach below (depending on tide), there is also the chance to spot dassies (little guinea pig like creatures that are related to the elephant or minute antelopes. Off the coast you may also be able to spot dolphins and whales at certain times of the year. The natural plants are ones I am not familiar but quite hardy due to the wind and inclement coastal weather that can occur. I was surprised how green it was even though it was winter.
When you get to Witsand you then have to either carry on to the Point path or cutting across the sand and continue on the Witsand route (which is what we did) and got to travel down a sand dune that is approx 80m (wind blows the sand upwards to make the dune). This dune is very steep and quite fun to get down, you slide most of the way. I lent back a bit as I did not want to tip forwards and fall, so I did end up on my bum once. It is quite hard on your knees and you ideally need a fairly good sense of balance. Once at the bottom we walked along the beach to Die Eiland (the Island) which can get cut off at certain times. Much of this part of the walk is on a board-walk but it does go up and down, like steps, so you do feel it in your legs. This is a looped walk and a good place to watch the waves crashing.
As we walked back from die Eiland across the sand the rain came down and blew horizontally into our face. It wasn't pleasant but it is nature, and you have to take your chance. Then we were back to scrambling across rocks and uneven ground, until The Gap where we climbed some steps back up. This is all wooden board walk again, but the steps are again uphill, before returning to the car park.
I found our walk varied and challenging, yet enjoyable (except being pelted by rain). I found I wore several combinations of outfits from a T-shirt, to a chunky cardigan, to a light jacket and a rain jacket in the space of two hours so recommend following the advice about being prepared for all weather conditions. Also take plenty of water as this is a very up and down walk with lots of scrambling. The Point walk is not recommended for children, and I don't think the Witsand one particularly suitable either, as it requires a good level of fitness and is uneven underfoot and narrow in places with sheer drops thus requiring concentration. I recommend following the route in the correct direction (clockwise) as you don't want to climb up that dune!
Summary: An interesting Coastal conservation area.