The Whale Hiking Trail

Our motto: Hike more, worry less…


The Whale Trail is a world-renowned backpacking or slackpacking trail in De Hoop Nature Reserve , and a must-do for all nature lovers. 5 Day and 5 Night Trail.


Trail distance: Approximately 55km

The Whale Trail is an unforgettable experience, taking you through one of the Western Cape’s most unique and diverse nature reserves.

The route 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.

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.

The tariff includes the shuttle service from Koppie Alleen, where the trail ends, back to the Potberg tourism office and the Whale Trail parking area.

Day 1:  Potberg to Cupidoskraal
  • Trail distance: 15.5km
  • Estimated time: 8 hours

Get up early to tackle the first, and toughest, stretch of the trail. Hikers will walk to the top of Potberg (611m), which has breathtaking panoramic views of Swellendam, the Indian Ocean and the Breede River, Cape Infanta and Cape Agulhas. Keep your eyes open for the rare Cape vulture. The trail descends along the watershed above Grootkloof towards Cupidoskraal, where you will find erica and protea species that grow only here and nowhere else in the world!

Day 2: Cupidoskraal to Noetsie
  • Trail distance: 15.2km
  • Estimated time: 8 hours

On the second day, hikers walk to the Noetsie cottages. The Noetsie cottages have been completely rebuilt on the footprint of the old cabins, with minimum ecological impact in mind. Day Two’s trail follows the crest of the Potberg through mountain fynbos with unequalled views of the Indian Ocean and the Breede River. The route finally exits Potberg and leads onto limestone hills with strikingly different fynbos, then descends to the enchanting bay of Noetsie at the coast.

Day 3: Noetsie to Hamerkop
  • Trail distance: 8.5km
  • Estimated time: 6 hours (3 hours of actual walking with the rest suggested for several break periods).

There is ample time for exploring the coastline on this stretch, as day three takes you along the coast, with the Marine Protected Area on your left. Stilgat is a most enjoyable stop. Several vantage points lie ahead until you reach a beach stretching a short distance to Hamerkop Cottage.

Day 4: Hamerkop to Vaalkrans
  • Trail distance: 10.5km
  • Estimated time: 6 hours

The long beachwalk on day four can be quite strenuous. Allow time to rest. On the way you pass Lekkerwater beach lodge. Look out for the shy oystercatchers and whitebreasted cormorants basking in the sun. The intertidal pools on the wave-cut rock platforms and coral reefs are remarkable sights. The last stretch to Vaalkrans ambles through diverse coastal vegetation.

Day 5: Vaalkrans to Koppie Alleen
  • Trail distance: 7km
  • Estimated time: 6 hours (3 hours of actual walking with the rest suggested for several break periods)

This is a short hike through coastal thickets with ample time to soak up the last of the scenic landscapes. There are two alternative routes for high and low tide.

Hippo Pools offers great swimming before the path leads up to Koppie Alleen where the trail ends.



  • Whale Trail Cottages

There are five comfortable cottages along the Whale Trail.

  • All the cottages are solar powered
  • Solar operated fridges
  • Solar and gas geysers
  • Gas stove
  • Enviro toilets
  • Cutlery and crockery
  • Kettle
  • Braai grid
  • Wood for braai
  • Bring own sleeping bag/pillows
Luggage transport – Optional. You can choose backpack or slackpack option

2021: Slackpack: R550pp

Payable prior to the time or on arrival

This is slack-packing at its finest. Your extra luggage is transported every day to the next cottage, so all you need to carry on the trail is a day pack.

The 70-litre transport containers are waiting for you at Potberg cottage.

Up to 14 units per group of 12 are allowed, or seven units per group of six. Hikers

pay for each container transported to the next cottage, including units used as cooler boxes on the trail.

Arrive Potberg and overnight at Potberg prior to starting your hike.  Information session at 14h00

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Price Available On Request

Contact 082 663 6168 or 064 523 1807


All information adapted with permission of owner

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