Things To Do in De HoopThe Whale Trail
Where? Start at Potberg, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Cape Overberg
When? Booking is essential.
How? Call Cape Nature on +27 (0)21 483-0190
How much? Price on request
Start: Potberg, De Hoop Nature Reserve
Finish: Koppie Alleen, De Hoop Nature Reserve
Duration: 54 km, 5 days
Fitness: moderate to difficult (this is a relatively easy walk; you will need endurance to complete 5 days)
Our tip: book far in advance! This is an extremely popular hike, particularly when the whales are in the bay (August/September)
De Hoop is one of the most beautiful spaces on the coast from which to watch whales. It is also one of the least frequented, when compared to places like Hermanus, during the whale season.
What makes it so enticing is the hundred or so whales that return to De Hoop bay annually.
Up there with other highly popular hikes - like the Otter Trail - the Whale Trail is relatively young (around since only 2002). But the combination of awe-inspiring mountain and coastal walking for moderately fit hikers makes it achievable for a larger cross-section of society.
You overnight in cottages; roughing it is not part of the deal.
Day one: Potberg to Cupidoskraal – 15 km
The toughest stretch of the hike, ascend Potberg and climb to the highest point of the trail. Lunch at the second crossing of the Melkhout River.
Day two: Cupidoskraal to Noetsie – 14.7 km
Follow the crest of the Potberg through mountain fynbos, before descending to Noetsie bay.
Day three: Noetsie to Hamerkop – 7.8 km
The easiest of the five days, you only do about three hours of walking, giving ample time to explore the coastline, particularly Stilgat. Whilst you have to negotiate a chain ladder to get there, it is well worth it for the snorkelling and swimming opportunities.
Day four: Hamerkop to Vaalkrans – 10.5 km
The day is mostly beach walking, which can feel strenuous. Vaalkrans lies on top of a cave.
Day five: Vaalkrans to Koppie Alleen – 7 km
Again a shorter day of hiking through coastal thickets with plenty of time to drink in the scenery. Hippo Pools provides great swimming.
People have seen up to 50 whales at a time in the bay at Koppie Alleen.
For more info and photos see our article at "The Whale Trail"