With the Cape acting as a trading post for more than 500 years, it’s no surprise that many seafaring nations have left behind evidence of their long-distance travels. From early Portuguese explorers to Dutch, English and French vessels, each wreck chronicles the life and times of its crew.

Did you know?

More than 2 700 shipwrecks have been identified along the South African coast, a large proportion having succumbed to the treacherous rugged coastline of the Cape Point.

Although many ships lie deep below the icy waters off Cape Point, others can still be seen today on the Olifantsbos Shipwreck Trail, also known as the Thomas T Tucker shipwreck trail.

Since the trail falls within the Cape Point Nature Reserve, an added bonus is walking amid the indigenous flora and fauna to be found at this southern tip of the African continent. More than 1 200 endemic plant species grow here, and wildlife roaming freely include baboon, Cape mountain zebra, red hartebeest, ostrich, Cape grysbok and bontebok.

Right on the water’s edge you’ll see distinctive African black oystercatchers with red legs and beaks, and the ubiquitous kelp gulls, often squabbling over a kelp frond.

You can pick one of three routes from Olifantsbos, all of which end at the departure point.

The easy 3km Thomas T Tucker trail marked in yellow takes you down to the water. Not far along you’ll find the remains of American liberty ship the Thomas T Tucker, which struck Albatross Rock on her maiden voyage during wartime in 1942. Further on you’ll come across the Nolloth, a Dutch coaster wrecked in 1965 with a full load of liquor, long since removed by the authorities!

For a longer 5km walk, keep going past the Nolloth and the parking lot to Sirkelsvlei, named for the spring-fed wetland to be found here.

Another trail leads on to Staavia Edge, a vantage point from which you can see Olifantsbos Cottage at the base of the hill.

The drive out to Cape Point Nature Reserve is scenic and relaxing, setting the scene for your peaceful stroll in nature once you arrive.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Buffelsfontein Visitors’ Centre
Tel: +27 (0)21 780 9204

Cape Point Information Centre
Tel: +27 (0)21 780 9010/11
Email: info@capepoint.co.za

How to get here

Drive to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Take the Olifantsbos turn-off to the right, which goes via the reserve to the beach where you can park.

Best time to visit

April to September (winter) 7am - 5pm; October to March (summer) 6am - 6pm.

What will it cost

The fee is R90 for adults and R40 for children under 12.

What to pack

A map of the trail – pick one up at the Buffelsfontein Visitors’ Centre – plus hat, binoculars, camera, sunscreen, hiking shoes, bottled water and a light jacket.