Five reasons to put the Whale Trail on your bucket list
On day one, you have the opportunity to see the last remaining breeding colony of cape vultures in the Western Cape. The colony is currently thriving thanks to conservation efforts at De Hoop, and seeing them circling the surrounding area is a reminder of just how special these enormous birds of prey are. It’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else in the province, and a great start to what is an amazing hike!
On the first two days of the Whale Trail, hikers get to experience some of the most pristine areas of fynbos in the world. In fact, many of the fynbos species on display at De Hoop are endemic to the area, meaning that you can’t see them anywhere else in the world! So pay close attention to the vegetation around you and you just might see something you’ve never seen before.
The new Noetsie Cabins
After the first two long days of hiking, the descent to the Noetsie bay, complete with the smell of the sea wafting over the air in the last kilometer or so, is a sight for sore eyes. And the new Noetsie cabins are just the place to rest your weary legs. After a long period of development, the new cabins are up and running. Built on the existing footprint of the old cabins to ensure minimal disruption to this unique protected area, the cabins feature an ergonomic design, fully equipped kitchen and outdoor braai.
The Stilgat Tidal Pools
On day three, between Noetsie and Hamerkop, there is a detour, via a short wooden ladder, down to the Stilgat tidal pools. Keen snorkelers are able to dive in and view all of the pristine marine life on the coast, while you could also spend plenty of time just enjoying the scenery.
And Finally, The Whales!
We’ve left the best for last. The Whale Trail gets its name from the abundance of whale activity that can be seen along the coast from June to December each year, with peak months being September and October. Some hikers have been lucky enough to see pods of Whales on all three days of coastal hiking in the peak season, and, if the weather is clear, you’re almost guaranteed to see Whales during those months. Seeing these larger-than-life marine mammals from the coastal and beach trail is a breathtaking experience, which makes all the aches and pains associated with five days of hiking worth it.
Bookings for the Whale Trail can be made through our central reservations centre on 021 483 0190 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (allow two working days for a response).
Groups are limited to a minimum of six and maximum of 12, and hikers can opt for the portage option, where all provisions are transported to and from each of the overnight huts, leaving them only needing to carry a day pack on the trail. It’s slackpacking at its finest! For a details breakdown of each day, click here.
Images copyright Scott N Ramsay, Peter Chadwick and CapeNature