The Whale Trail

At the top of HL’s trend forecast for 2014 is holidaying on the African continent. So give your carbon footprint a good kick and, instead of flying off to a distant destination, put on your walking boots and experience an amazing five days under uninterrupted South African sky. I felt on top of the world as we traced our way along the top of a mountain on Day One of the Whale Trail in De Hoop Nature Reserve, about four hours’ drive from Cape Town. The first day of a five-day hike covering 55km takes you right up to the top of the Potberg at 611 metres above sea level. Picture this: blue skies, a view down to the left as far as the eye can see into the Breede Valley, and to the right the azure blue coastline - a holding bay for nursing Southern Right whales between June and December, spectacular rock formations and a whole range of bird- and wild-life. Leopards are abundant here too. Their spoor is prolific, yet sightings of these beautiful creatures are, as we all know, rare. But hang on – the word ‘hike’ may have put you off – don’t let it, people with a reasonable fitness will enjoy this – it’s like having a jolly good walk every day in a glorious setting. At the end of the day there’s a hot shower waiting for you, as well as a roaring fire, good food and wine and a place to put your feet up. Accommodation is clean and adequate with cottages ranging from Arniston-style to A-framed thatched chalets. The best part is that all you carry is a light daypack during your walk. The rest of your luggage (bedding, clothes, food and drink) is transported to the next overnight spot every day. Here's a quick rundown on the places you'll go. Don't fear the distance. It is more than doable. ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Potberg to Cupidoskraal – 14,7km
  • Day 2: Cupidoskraal to Noetsie – 15km
  • Day 3: Noetsie to  Hamerkop  –   8,5km
  • Day 4: Hamerkop to Vaalkrans  –  10,5km
  • Day 5: Vaalkrans to Koppie Allan – 7km
TIPS: 1. Go early in the season when there aren't too many people. 2. Group bookings are limited to either six or 12. If your party is less you may find yourself walking and overnighting with people you don’t know, so if you aren’t keen on this, book for the maximum number. 3. Kids have no problem with walking this trail. They'll be way ahead of you! 4. Take good food. It’s worth it. Two-minute noodles are not an option. 5. Don’t skimp on tipple. It's just fabulous to kick off your boots at the end of the day and chill with a glass of something spectacular. 6. Savour every minute of it out there. Time passes quickly and you won’t want to go home. So if you like a bit of exercise mixed with absolute peace and solitude and plenty of time to reconnect with friends and family at a reasonable cost, this is for you. For more information and to book visit Text Michelle Hardie