There’s no bad time to hike the Overberg coastline, but July is one of the best months for whale watchers to put on their boots, and a new section on the established Fynbos Trail is a great spot to start looking for these massive marine mammals.
The seven-kilometre optional coastal section is a new addition to the two-and-a-half day 26-kilometre guided or self-guided trail through Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy, and offers some of the best land-based whale watching in the world. Southern rights arrive in Walker Bay between June and December to mate and calve. The high coastal cliffs you hike along for the first half of the new section provide the perfect vantage point; the water below is deep and the whales are so close you don’t need binoculars to catch the action. The scenery is as mind-blowing: jagged rocks poke up like great teeth and waves crash into deep, narrow gullies.
Hikers adding this section to the full trail overnight at a guest house in De Kelders, then hit the trail early in the morning. Shortly into the hike, you pass the deep exit hole of Duiwelsgat, a cave that is accessible from its base at low tide (the view of the 20-metre-deep hole in the rocks from below is very impressive).
The sweeping sands of Die Plaat, a long beach between De Kelders and Hermanus, stretch out ahead of you as you traverse the final section of cliff before descending down the steps to Klipgat, a vast cave that was used as shelter by strandlopers and which has been excavated by archaeologists.
After a short section of beach walking, it’s into the dunes before lunch at Growing the Future, a sustainable agriculture and life-skills training college on Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. This is the starting point of the core trail and from there it’s another six-and-a-half kilometres through coastal strandveld, ancient milkwood forests and limestone fynbos to Fynbos Retreat, the overnight spot where you’re treated to pizza and a tasting of the local wines.
Day two (12 kilometres) starts with a walk through the magnificent Witvoetskloof forest to a waterfall, followed by a hike up Grootberg. Then you head down through Flower Valley to the tranquil Bodhi Kaya Retreat. On the final day, it’s an easy six-kilometre walk up the Baviaans Fontein Valley through more indigenous forests and dense fynbos-clad hills to Grootbos, where the trail ends with lunch on the terrace overlooking Walker Bay.
Fynbos Trail facts
The two-and-a-half- day Fynbos Trail costs from R825 (self-guided) to R2 400 a person (guided). The coastal section costs R650 to R1 150 extra.
33 km over three days (26 km without coastal section)
Easy to moderate
Photo by Shaen Adey.