The Cape Cross Seal Reserve is home to the world’s largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals. With a surrounding area of about 23 square miles consisting of flat gravel plains and a rock outcrop where the seals gather, the reserve was proclaimed in 1968 to protect the biggest and best known of the 23 colonies of Cape fur seals that breed along the coast of South Africa and Namibia.
Located close the coastal towns of Swakopmund and Henties Bay, visitors can walk along the edge of the colony and learn about these interesting animals and the unique history of Cape Cross. It was here that the Portuguese navigator, Diego Cão, on his second expedition to Africa south of the equator, planted a stone cross in 1486. Two replicas of this cross can be viewed at the site where the original one was erected.
The Cape fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus, is the largest of the world’s nine fur-seal species. Up to 210,000 of these animals gather at Cape Cross at any one time during the breeding season. From November and December, massive bulls fight for beach territory and the right to mate. Females breed in synchrony, and spend their days fishing in the Benquela Current returning to the shore amongst thousands of pups. The reserve is situated approximately 80 miles north of Swakopmund and is open daily from 08:00–17:00 (16 November–30 June) and 10:00–17:00 (1 July–15 November).