Travel ? Visiting the Southern tip of Africa
We have published several articles on South African National Parks (SANParks) in Rolling Inspiration over the last few years on the various accommodation, facilities and activity options available to people with mobility impairments. Regular readers will also know there is an access feature on a different national park in every edition. Let's look at some of the less heralded SANParks that are developing and don't have the acclaim of places like the Kruger, Addo Elephant or Table Mountain National Parks, and highlight some of the accessible attractions of these parks.
Agulhas National Park
Cape Agulhas is the most Southern tip in Africa and is also the official meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans (not Cape Point as many people believe). It's also the spot at which to have one's photo taken and there is a stone plaque that marks the spot - right on the beach. Vsit the Agulhas Lighthouse which is still operational and open to the public, it boasts a museum in the bottom section. Other attractions in the area include whale and dolphin watching plus other abundant ocean and coastal life. The area is also famed for its shipwrecks and the voyages of great ocean explorers. There is a Shipwreck Museum which offers an extensive collection of artefacts and furniture from ships wrecked along the coast in the nearby town of Bredasdorp. Another must-see is the majestic Cape Floral Kingdom and the Agulhas National Park, a global biodiversity hotspot with plant-life unique to the area. It features wetlands with wonderful birdlife, enchanting fishing villages so that one has access to fresh seafood, beautiful beaches and many adventure activities and historic locations in the surrounding area.
But what can people with mobility impairments do in the park?
Perhaps the most popular attraction is the boardwalk that takes visitors to the southern tip of Africa where the two oceans meet. It is great in enabling wheelchair users and others with limited mobility to comfortably get to this geographic landmark. The parking area is suitably firm and flat and there are a number of fascinating information boards along the trail.
The Agulhas Lighthouse is a challenging location for the mobility impaired, but can be accessed by wheelchair users with assistance as the building is equipped with two long metal runners that can be propped parallel to each other against the entrance steps to provide a passage for one's wheels. Going up unsupported is impossible as it is too steep, but wheelchair users with good balance will be able to go down unassisted. Unfortunately, the steps up the lighthouse tower are incredibly steep and the staircase is spiralling, and challenging even for able-bodied people, but at least a person with limited mobility can experience the museum and the little tea room on the bottom floor.
Many of the area's other attractions are moderately accessible or can be enjoyed from the comfort of a vehicle, but the big bonus of staying in the park is that it offers several different accommodation options with adapted ablutions for visitors with mobility difficulties.
In the Agulhas Main Camp, two of the eight units are adapted, one sleeping four and the other sleeping two guests. The ablutions are fairly-well designed and the accommodation is fitted with satellite televisions. If the rest of one's travel party was off doing something that was not suitable for people with mobility challenges, then at least it offers an alternative means of entertainment.
Renosterkop is a smaller and more remote rest camp inland from the coast. It is set in a grove of milkwood trees and the cottages are renovated Cape Dutch style buildings. It has a wonderful atmosphere and is ideal for those who like to stay in rustic, antiquated places that are stil comfortable and meet one's accessibility needs.
There is also an accessible room at Rietfontein and another at one of the other converted old farmsteads that supplement the park's accommodation, so there are plenty of places for people with physical disabilities or other mobility constraints to stay.
For those who haven't explored this captivating part of our wonderful country it is definitely a place to visit.