Cape Agulhas

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Kassiesbaai, ArnistonWhere Africa starts: This is the southern most tip of the African continent and where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.  The Cape Agulhas Municipality includes the towns of Bredasdorp, Arniston/Waenhuiskrans, Struisbaai, L'Agulhas, Elim and Napier.

The main photo in the image gallery to the right shows the RAF's Red Falcons sky diving over the southern tip of the continent.

Agulhas LighthouseThere is plenty to set this region apart.  The towns of Bredasdorp and Napier were established 16km apart in 1838 when locals couldn't agree where to establish their church.  And how many towns have two completely different names – Arniston and Waenhuiskrans?

The southernmost tip was named Cabo das Agulhas ('Cape of Needles') by Portuguese seafarers at the end of the 15th century because compass needles show no variation between true north and magnetic north points.

It's an area rich in pre-recorded history with a strong focus on a high-tech future.  The runway at the SA Air Force's Training School is able to land the largest and fastest aircraft in the world and is the only place in the southern hemisphere where the US space shuttle can land should the window over America itself close for some or other reason.  And there's also OTB – a test facility specialising in the in-flight testing and evaluation of missiles and aviation systems for the local and international aerospace industries.

Arniston Hotel But it's tourism that will have the biggest impact.  In 1996, Time Magazine voted Arniston one of the world's top 10 hideaways.  The Arniston Hotel (right) has been a favourite among cognoscenti for years, and it keeps getting better.  City people (predominantly English-speaking, with a broader skills base) are changing the innate character of all the towns.  And 'big' money has started finding its way here. One Arniston house changed hands in 2002 for R6.3 million (US$1 million) to a South African buyer.

A new tarred road will extend the route through Hermanus and Gansbaai to the Cape Agulhas region.  A less accessible area will become a prime tourist destination, for locals... and the tour buses.  How will these areas cope?

Exceptionally well is our guess.  Using competent consultants they have identified the challenges and opportunities. They have started safeguarding their assets and have the plans to manage change.  One example is Napier, one of the few unspoilt country towns.  Its rural character will be retained and enhanced.

Related content: Where two oceans meet

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