The iconic Whale Trail should be on everyone’s bucket list. Located three hours from Cape Town, the trail meanders through the breathtaking De Hoop Nature Reserve which features endemic plant species, rare and endangered animals, jaw-dropping views, and of course, whales. After 2 years of hard work and refurbishment, the route has been reponed and is well worth the wait.
Situated on 34 000 hectares of land, which extends 5km out to sea, is one of the largest marine protected areas in Africa and part a World Heritage Protected Area. De Hoop Nature Reserve is a firm favourite for hikers, cyclists, bird and whale watchers. One of the main attractions of the reserve has always been its world-renowned Whale Trail, a 5-day overnight hiking trail taking visitors through the beautiful terrain of the reserve.
CapeNature, the conservation agency managing the De Hoop Reserve, has spent two years upgrading the trail and visitors can now look forward to an improved experience made possible through innovative and value-add enhancements.
The Whale Trail stretches over 55km, from Potberg to Koppie Alleen, with five overnight stops (hikers spend the first night at Potberg before starting the trail). The unspoilt natural beauty on this trail is unsurpassable, leading through lush fynbos and offering stunning views of the coast.
De Hoop is known as one of the best land-based whale-watching spots in the world. Between June and November, the coastline is transformed as southern right whales migrate here to breed and look after their young.
The five Whale Trail overnight huts lie at the foot of the Potberg Mountains, perched high on a sea cliff offering breath-taking views. Although the fully equipped huts can sleep up to 12 people at the time, the occupancy is currently restricted to 50% in line with COVID-19 regulations for dormitory-style accommodation. Unfortunately, children below the age of eight are not allowed on the trail. The route is fairly strenuous, varying in intensity. Reservations are limited to group bookings of either six or 12.
Dr Razeena Omar, CEO of CapeNature says, “With South Africa’s tourism sector slowly returning to the “new normal” with the easing of regulations, the reopening of the world-renowned trail comes at a time where locals are itching to get away on much-needed breaks. Annually between June and November, southern right whales make their epic journey back to the safety of these rich waters to mate and calve. The famed Whale Trail is revered as one of the most meaningful ways to experience this extraordinary phenomenon. De Hoop defies superlatives – it must be experienced to be truly understood.”
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