Together with Bonteboks at Platboom Beach, South Africa
When Bob and I set off from Cape Point at Cape of Good Hope in search of the distant stretch of glistening white sand seen from the lookout, we were in for a big surprise and a treat!
What we discovered was a unique landscape of unspoiled sand dunes, timeless in its beauty.
These pristine coastal dunes comprise part of the area called Platboom Beach, considered to be one of Cape Point’s most deserted beaches. Our eyes soaked up the rugged beauty of this secret gem.
I had mixed emotions about stepping foot onto the undisturbed surface of fine golden sand. The idea of exploring uncharted territory exhilarated me, and yet, I was reluctant to tarnish the uniform ripples.
And then we did it, made our move forward! I was filled with a sense of uninhibited freedom.
Running parallel to Platboom Beach, the dune system is a result of wind-driven sand.
The concentric nature of ripples on the upwind side of the nearest dune was mesmerizing in its perfection.
It was a little unnerving to find ourselves alone in that wild place. The only sounds were waves crashing against the shore and our own hushed voices. We treasured the seclusion and untouched natural beauty of the bone-white mounds of sand.
The dune formation seemed to stretch to infinity so Bob and I let our imaginations soar. We were primed to walk a good distance enjoying the salty sea air at our backs while anticipating what might lay ahead.
It wasn’t long before our exploration turned up traces of some previous activity. Pockmarks half filled with grains of sand told us that some animals had passed that way in the recent past!
A scan of the landscape through our binoculars revealed a small herd of antelopes up ahead, but the heat haze made it difficult to determine the species.
Bob and I gave a wide berth to the group of animals as we attempted to gain a better vantage point.
It was exciting to realize that we had found a small assembly of Bonteboks complete with a young calf.
Bonteboks occur naturally in the fynbos region of the Western Cape. These individuals were wiling away the hot afternoon in seclusion in the shelter of the dunes.
Only active during the daytime, Bonteboks wander the coastal grass plains and graze on the fynbos vegetation.
Bonteboks are among the rarest of antelopes in South Africa. We had never even heard of them before.
As we neared the small grouping, Bob and I were able to really appreciate their striking facial markings. The white “mask” is called a threat mask, and oddly enough, it resembles the helmet of a medieval knight. It is intended to intimidate predators such as lions, leopards and cheetahs.
The allure of the far-reaching stretch of sand dunes had Bob and me wandering even further always with Platboom Beach on our left just the other side of grassy mounds where vegetation had managed to take hold. A glance to our rear reminded us that we were not very far from the Cape of Good Hope, and the Bonteboks appeared as mere specks in the distance.
When it came time to end our adventure, Bob and I were pleased to find the Bonteboks still hanging out on the dunes where we had last seen them. Once killed almost to the point of extinction because they were considered pests, the population of Bonteboks in West Cape today rests at about 3,000.
This is all thanks to the efforts of one Dutch farmer, Alexander van der Bijl, who corralled the last 17 Bonteboks to protect them. In 1931, the animals were transferred to Bontebok National Park to conserve the species. Bonteboks are still considered extinct in their natural habitat, and yet, there we were seeing them in the wild landscape of Platboom Beach.
Platboom Beach at Cape Point National Park had really delivered a unique experience. The quiet majesty of the place was both magical and unsettling. That was the true beauty of this solitary beach, wild and unspoiled.
Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean