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Shedding new light in South Africa with a lighthouse tour

30 Dec Posted by in Africa, South Africa | 1 comment
Shedding new light in South Africa with a lighthouse tour

South Africa has a scenic coast line spanning about 2500 kilometers/ 1500 miles. As the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the waters along the South African coast can be as dangerous as it is beautiful. The first European explorers along the South African coast were the Portuguese. The Dutch colonized the Cape in 1652 and by the 1800’s, the entire South African coastline was under control of the British. There are 40 lighthouses along the spectacular coast line of South Africa. All the South African lighthouses are overseen by the Transnet National Ports Authority. There are about a dozen lighthouses open to the public. As many of these lighthouses were previously ran at a loss, many of the lighthouse keeper’s old homes have been converted into beautiful self catering units where you can spend a day or two while exploring the area.

Umhlanga Lighthouse, KZN, South Africa

Umhlanga Lighthouse, KZN, South Africa
Image Credits: Axel Bührmann

If you land in Johannesburg, you might want to take a short flight to Durban, rent a car and start your lighthouse tour on the East Coast. If however, you fly in to Cape Town, you will start along the West Coast. A great time of the year to do a lighthouse tour, would be between August and September as this is when the wildflower blooming season overlaps with the whale watching season. There are numerous maritime museums to visit and well known shipwrecks such as the Arniston which can also be viewed. In the Struisbaai area there is around 386 shipwrecks within a 24 kilometer stretch of coastline. For those with 15 meter diving qualifications, the opportunity is there to explore some of these shipwrecks with local diving companies.

The lighthouses which are open to the public are:

Lighthouse in Neptune's Corner, Cape Town, South Africa

Lighthouse in Neptune’s Corner, Cape Town
Image Credits:Steve Crane

Travel tips for a Lighthouse Holiday in South Africa:

  • Make sure you always head out with a warm and weatherproof jacket. The weather along the South African Coast can be very unpredictable.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes from a brand of work boots that are the top.
  • Make sure you have a good sunscreen with you at all times, wear a hat and drink a lot of water. In the sunshine and wind along the coast it is very easy to dehydrate.
  • August is still considered as out of season travel time in South Africa. You can get really good deals for car rental and accommodation in this time.
  • Have a look at South African travel sites and shop around before booking. In South Africa, many of the smaller guesthouses offer Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at a really good rate.
  • Ask the locals about restaurants where they prefer to eat. These restaurants usually offer the best value for money.
  • Most attractions and shops in South Africa accept all major credit cards so there is no need to travel with large amounts of cash.

How long should you plan your trip for?

Well, how long do you have? This kind of travel is not the hasty “See South Africa in six nights and seven days” type of travel. You should take your time and be a true explorer in modern time. There are many treasures awaiting you, wedged between the lighthouses, sleepy little towns and stories of great maritime history and adventure along the South African coast.

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  1. Nandy02-16-16

    Hi. I would like to organise a group of students to go inside the Umhlanga lighthouse KZN. Please forward me a contact number. Many thanks

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