Kanonkop and Venus Pools

Venus pools at Cape Point

This hike takes in Kanonkop and Venus Pools as well as the impressive Paulsberg cliff as an optional extension. Kanonkop and Paulsberg offer some magnificent views of the Cape Point peninsula, and a refreshing swim at Venus Pools is the perfect way to cool off.

Fynbos flower near Kanonkop
Another fynbos flower near Kanonkop
Beautiful flora near Kanonkop

Location

This hike to Kanonkop and Venus Pools is on the Cape Point Peninsula. The hike starts at the car park of Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre, 10 minutes drive from the entrance gate to the park. The peninsula is about 1-hour drive from the centre of Cape Town. If you don’t have a car, check out the options for car hire* from Cape Town. We did this hike in February 2021 after walking around Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope.

Venus Pools Walking Route and Map

Tips for Kanonkop and Venus Pools

  • This hike is in the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park.
  • The entrance gate hours are 06:00 to 18:00 from October to March and 07:00 to 17:00 from April to September.
  • Adhere to the closing time indicated at the gate to avoid having to pay a fine.
  • Entrance fee: Free for WildCard holders, R85/40 for South Africans, R340/170 for foreigners (adults/children)
  • A swim at Venus Pools is an excellent way to cool off during the hike.
  • Bring a mask and snorkel for the aquatic wildlife in the pools.
  • Sunhat, sunscreen and water are needed in sunny weather.
  • For navigation on this hike you can use for instance the offline maps app Maps.me.
  • We did this hike on a day trip to Cape Point as the second of two hikes, find the first one here.
  • Check out our Cape Point Guide for all other things to do in the area.

Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre

This hike starts at the car park of Buffelsfontein, the visitors centre of the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park. If you haven’t visited, it is worth a visit, to see the whale bones outside and get some information on the flora and fauna as well as the history of Cape Point.

The trail starts behind the visitors centre. The first thing we came across on this hike was a snake looking very much like an Adder, so be aware. The trail takes you across a sandy bit towards the Bordjies Rif Road. If you are tired and not up for a walk, drive down this road to a car park and walk to Venus Pools from there.

Buffelsfontein visitor centre
Looking back to Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre.
Buffels Bay and Cape Point Peninsula
Buffels Bay and the Southern end of the peninsula.

We crossed the road and walked uphill and contoured for a bit until the path joined the main path up to Kanonkop. If you want to shorten the hike a bit, you could start at this trailhead for Kanonkop instead.

Kanonkop

After a not so long walk up the hill, you turn left and reach Kanonkop. The cannon sits on a slap of rock and there are some great views of False Bay and the peninsula from here. The way down to Venus Pools starts here, but instead of heading down straight away, we went to explore a lessen trotted path to Paulsberg.

The cannon at Kanonkop on the Cape Point Peninsula.
The view from Kanonkop to Buffels Bay.

History of Kanonkop and Buffelsfontein

Kanonkop is Dutch and Afrikaans for Cannon head. This hill is named after an old Dutch cannon that was found here just before the Second World War. This and other cannons were used by the Dutch East India Company to signal the ships that rounded the Cape.

Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre is named after the farm which lands covered the southernmost part of the peninsula from the early 1800s. The land of Buffelsfontein farm was not very good for farming. At one point, ostriches were introduced. The descendants of these ostriches can still be seen in this area.

The farm had one resource in abundance: Lime from seashells on the beach and from Calcrete rock. This lime was used to plaster the houses in Cape Town. Near the end of this hike you pass a Lime Kiln that was used to get the lime out of the shells and calcrete.

Paulsberg

Paulsberg is not so impressive looking rocky hill if you approach it from Kanonkop. However, the other side is quite a different story as it is a sheer vertical drop all the way to the shore, where the Venus Pools are. From Kanonskop, hike the path towards the hill and take a right turn, the little trail up the hill.

Paulsberg from Kanonkop.
Paulsberg is not so impressive from this side.

The views from the top of Paulsberg are magnificent, probably one of the best on the Cape Point Peninsula. You are standing right on a sheer drop, with a series of cliffs to the north and views all the way to cape point to the south. The rocky shore down below looks amazing from here.

View to the north from Paulsberg.
View of the Cape Point Peninsula from Paulsberg.
The views From Paulsberg

After a well-deserved rest, we retraced our steps to Kanonskop and made our way down to the beach. It is a steep but good way down. You meet a tarred track that heads to Venus Pools where you turn left.

Historic lime kiln with Paulsberg in the background.
A historic lime kiln with the impressive Paulsberg in the background.
Azure blue waters near Venus Pools in Cape Point Peninsula, South Africa.
Azure blue waters near Venus Pools.

Venus Pools

Venus Pools quite surprised us. While the ocean may be wild and cold, the water in the pool was surprisingly warm and calm. It offered a refuge to various sea animals, from sea stars and sea urchins to beautiful as well as scary-looking fish. Luckily, we brought a mask and snorkel to have a close look at all this wildlife.

Sea star at Venus Pools
Venus Pools at Cape Point, South Africa.
Water wildlife at Venus Pools

After a well-deserved swim, it was time to leave as the sun was setting. We had to make it back to the car and leave the park before sunset. We walked up the road up to find where we crossed the road earlier. From there we made our way back to Buffelsfontein. That concluded a very enjoyable exploration of Cape Point.

Check out our morning hike around Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope, or visit our Cape Point Guide for more things to do.

Tree at Buffelsfontein Visitors Centre.

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