The Whale Trail Hike – Part 3

Day 4 & 5 and General Comments

Day 4: Hamerkop to Vaalkrans

This was a 10,5km walk, described as “moderate”.

Map provided by Cape Nature

The first about 4,5km we walked on the beach.  Low tide (tables provided in the hut) was at noon.  We started just before nine, counting on catching the outgoing tide and to have increasingly harder sand to walk on as we went along.

That did not really work out the way I figured it in my head.  We walked in each other’s tracks to ease the strain on our calves.  This was suggested by the information poster in the Hamerkop hut, and it works very well.  Not so much for the one walking in front, though.

Step by step

Past the Lekkerwater Lodge the track swung away from the sea, and we once again walked on the cliffs overlooking the sea. 

The rock formations and pools on this stretch are just amazing.  

Enter the Dragon
Big brother dragon
Tidal Pools
Blow holes

We arrived at Vaalkrans just past 2.

Vaalkrans hut

Two members of of our team had to arrange an urgent exit to head home, since existing flight arrangements for 19h00 the following evening turned out to be not from Cape Town but from Johannesburg.  A bit of nifty footwork (asking very nicely) and an hour and a half trip on the back of a bakkie resolved the crisis.

At dusk I walked up the koppie behind the hut to find a signal for my mobile phone.   On my way back I spotted a dead puff adder on the road.  I realised it could not have been dead for too long, since there had been no dead snake when I walked up the hill.   So just to be safe I told the dead snake to hiss off.  Which he then duly did, and by a happy coincidence, away from me.  I am much more partial towards dead snakes than any other species of snakes.  I did manage to get a shaky video clip of the snake. 


Day 5: Vaalkrans to Koppie Alleen

We were looking forward to an easy 7km walk on the last day.  One needs to be at Koppie Alleen by noon to catch the shuttle.  However, due to some members having pressing work commitments later the same day, we managed to arrange for the shuttle to be there by 11h00 already.  So we started our last day’s walk at about 07h00 the morning.

We spent quite some time at the Hippo Pools, although we did not spot any hippos.  Maybe now is a good time to mention that we also did not see any whales.  I thought maybe Hermanus bay has hogged all the good whales and sent the second team over to De Hoop to do their thing, but not so.  The whale season is between June and November, and we’ve been here in the first week of May.

We did, though, on numerous occasions saw pods of dolphins of up to 8 – 10 together. 

Hippo Pools

The problem with these pools are, every 10 yards you move, you find a better angle for an even better photo than the previous one.

Hippo Pools 2

When we arrived at the spot where the shuttle should await us at 10h50, it was there already.

The shuttle

The shuttle took us on a 45 minutes’ drive back to Potberg where we had a short debriefing, giving feedback to Cape Nature officials on what was good and what was better.

And so ended a remarkable 5 day hike!


As a novice hiker, I did not have much of an idea how to prepare.

  • It so happened that my son’s schoolbag was actually a 25 litre backpack, so we had one to take along.
  • Halfway through day two I began suspecting a blister might be forming under my foot.  One of our teammates provided me with blister plasters – something I never heard of before.  Blister plasters contains hydrocolloid particles that seems to work wonders on both suspected, already formed, and broken blisters.  In my case it prevented the blister to come to full fruition.
  • The slack packing option offers quite some leeway in what one can take along.  Although our 70 litre boxes were filled to the top (it included our sleeping bags and cushions), the cooler box had still ample space.  I could have gone more exotic than having to stick to tap water for the duration of the hike.
  • Speaking of which, at some huts the tap water is not drinkable, but then water is provided in water cans.  I forgot about this and swallowed down some pills from a tap next to a notice that says the water is not fit for human consumption.  Luckily I suffered no ill effects.  I guess it was the pills.
  • My shoes were well worn trail runners, which turned out to be a good choice.  It survived the terrain well.  I did have to glue one part back afterwards though.
  • I paid no attention to socks and, in fact, walked with spanking brand new ones.  This was not a good idea and one could even consider investing in blister (preventing) socks.
  • Lightweight and water repellent clothing is a splendid idea for a hike like this.

The map that Cape Nature provides has very interesting and useful information.  Apart from showing the route maps, it indicates the inclines of the routes, as well as the energy required to walk the route.

The map of the whole route
Elevations and energy

Additional reading

Cape Nature provides very extensive information on the whale trail:

From that link you can also access the Whale Trail Map:

And to the Whale Trail Information Sheet:

PG Jonker


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