The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. Nonetheless, the five-day Whale Hiking trail must be one of South Africa’s greatest selling points. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with the likes of the Otter Trail that rates as one of the top 10 hiking trails in South Africa and is popular to the point that one needs to book two years in advance, so be warned!
The Whale Trail spans over 55 kilometres from Potberg to Koppie Alleen with five overnight stops. Its comparison with the Otter Trail stops at its popularity and the cliff-top walk to Hamerkop, for the rest of its setting is totally different. The Whale Trail combines both mountain and coastal walking, predominantly through the De Hoop Nature Reserve, close to Bredasdorp.
Of course the main reason for doing the hike, other than the incredible scenery, is the increased chance of sighting whales. De Hoop lies on a portion of the coast strongly associated with the Southern Right Whale. Sometimes more than 50 of these peaceful giants can be spotted at a time.
Better still, the hike is designed for those with a moderate degree of fitness – you don’t need to have conquered Kilimanjaro to manage the Whale Trail – and the days vary when it comes to intensity. For instance the first day is the most strenuous and covers 15 kilometre climbing 611 metres of the Potberg Mountain, whilst day three is half that and gives one more time to loiter and drink in the views and the rock pools along the coast.
Overnights are in a series of cottages that don’t qualify as ‘roughing it’, whilst the trail only takes groups of 6 or 12, so planning who accompanies you on the hike takes on an added dimension.
Reservations for the Whale Trail can be made through Cape Nature:
The Contact centre is open from 07h00 to 16h30 (South African time) on weekdays.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 483-0000