The Whale Trail is one of South Africa's iconic trails, with bookings opening a year in advance. Situated in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the is operated by Cape Nature. The route starts with a trek up the Posberg Ridge, with the first two days inland and the last three days along the coast. Whale sighting are frequent between July and November and dolphins throughout the year. The trail accommodates 12 people and can be done either 'Slackpacking' style or backpacking. If we are able to get a booking, we offer it as an exclusive fully catered, guided 'slackpacking' trail, with a minimum of six people and a maximum of ten.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
Local transport options: far from any public transport hub, private transport or by arrangement with shuttle service.
Trip Duration / Options
Option 1: 5 day, fully catered and guided trail with booking support and value added catering and guiding servces provided by Platteklip Tours and Trails; on trail logistics arranged with and provided by Cape Nature.
Option 2: Backpack option – self catering
Start / Finish
Start: De Hoop Nature Reserve – Potberg Camp GPS: 34˚36'18.28 S / 20˚53'62.65 E
Finish: De Hoop Nature Reserve – Koppie Alleen GPS: 34˚47'53.18 S / 20˚50'58.21 E
with transport provided to Potberg GPS: 34˚36'18.28 S / 20˚53'62.65 E
Daily Time / Distances
First night: Potberg
Day 1 – 15km to Cupidoskraal
Day 2 – 14.7km to Noetsie
Day 3 – 7.8km to Hamerkop
Day 4 – 10.5km to Vaalkrans
Day 5 – 7km to Koppie Alleen
Based on a grading of Easy – Moderate – Strenuous.
The Whale Trail can be regarded as moderate, with the first day, 15km being the most strenuous. There are some steep uphill gradients initially and later on the first day. Once the coast has been reached the distances are short.
A reasonable degree of overall fitness required, with hiking fitness being an advantage
Technical detail / Terrain
Initial inland route on mountain terrain with some short steep sections on well defined natural rock path with some loose stones and uneven surfaces underfoot. Some high ridge and cliff paths, but no technical exposure or scrambling. Along the coast there are some high cliff paths but generally well set back. There are rocky uneven patches and loose stones underfoot in places, as well as soft sand along paths adjacent to the beach.
Mostly renovated cottages and one purpose built facility. Mostly bunk beds with utilitarian foam mattresses. Own pillows and sleeping bags need to be provided.
Bedrooms are communal with no private options and ablutions are shared. Facilities are mostly located in scenic surroundings.
Food Supply / Catering
This is a fully catered trail with lunch packs both days, dinner, breakfast and hot beverages supplied. Cold beverages / drinks for own account.
Logistic support / Guiding
All overnight luggage is transported – only day packs are required. The trail is guided by a fully trained, accredited mountain / hiking guide with a reasonably good knowledge of local flora and history.
Numerous highlights – occasional sightings of the resident Cape Vulture colony, views over the Breede River, coastal vistas, whale sightings (in season) and dolphin pod sightings. Fynbos and terrain diversity. Rock formations on the coast and rock pools on the shoreline.
Some swimming in places
Fauna & Flora
De Hoop Nature Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot, in the core of the 'fynbos' biome and part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site. Mostly nocturnal and shy small animals, occasional small antelope and rock hyrax. Home to the endangered Cape vulture and many other bird species. Occasional sightings of eland and bontebok, with numerous lizards and agamas.
De Hoop as part of the Western Cape is located in a Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall. Summer can be hot (up to 35 degrees) although usually moderate along the coast. Spring and Autumn are moderate and the best hiking season although good winter days can be quite warm and summer temperatures are seldom high for long periods. Hiking is possible all year round, but whale season between July and November are the highlights.
Seasonality & Best Time Year
Spring and Autumn are moderate and the best hiking season although good winter days can be quite warm and summer temperatures are seldom high for long periods. Hiking is possible all year round. Whale season for the migration of the souther right whale is between July and November.
Minimum 6 persons – maximum 10 persons (recommended group size 8 to 10)
5 night / 5 day Whale Trail 2019
R10900 pp – minimum group 6 people – excluding group transport to start
Price review date: 1 November annually
- All accommodation and trail fees
- Hiking guide and support team
- All Meals: Dinner, Breakfast & Packed lunch on hike days
- Booking and logistical arrangements
- Luggage Transfers & Vehicle Support
Transport arrangements to the start and return
Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (order in advance or no charge to bring your own)
Here you'll find any scheduled trails that you can join. Trails may be booked up to one year in advance, so be sure to scroll ahead using the arrows on the left to find if there are any available. The trail operator page will also list any scheduled trails.
If you would like to enquire about different dates, please fill in the form below. Trails are initiated when someone makes an enquiry, and go ahead once the minimum numbers are confirmed.
Scheduled Whale Trails
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Whale Trail enquiry
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