22 March 2011
The Whale Trail: Day Four
Date: 12 March 2011
Location: De Hoop Nature Reserve, in the Overberg
Walkers: Ian, John, Marianne, Rainer, Madeleine, Rob, Rooken, Kati, Michele & Helen
*** Route plotted here ***
DAY FOUR: From HAMERKOP to VAALKRANS.
See also: Day One, Day Two and Day Three.
Trail info here. Map (pdf) here.
After a good night's sleep we were up early again on our fourth day on the trail. By now we were getting into a easy routine; it's really fun to get up and walk day after day! Today we were starting with a 5km hike along the beach. Michele and I figured this might be a bit hard-going so we set off ahead of the rest, with Ian and John close behind.
As it was high tide we had to go up and over the rocky headlands that broke the sandy stretch at regular intervals (at low tide one can walk around them). As we reached this one the sun broke though the clouds and bathed the rocks in golden early morning light.
We looked back along the beach on one direction, and ahead in the other. Not a soul around... what a treat to have the entire beach to ourselves.
As we reached the next set of rocks a few drops of rain began to fall and we sheltered under the overhang. Luckily it didn't last long, and soon after the clouds began to clear.
We passed Lekkerwater. This old homestead on the coast is available to rent (see here). I think it would be fabulous to spend a holiday here. Might do just that one day... maybe next summer?
We stopped to inspect interesting finds along the way. Here the guys used their sticks to poke an unfortunate dead sea bird, one of two we saw.
Also: a tiny fish, and many blue-bottles.
I was interested to see that this dune plant was in flower... pretty.
We stopped on yet another rocky headland, and waited until the rest of the group joined us so that we could have our mid-morning snack together.
And then we set off again, for our final leg on the sand. I hadn't found walking on the sandy beach nearly as tiring as I expected it to be, although I was glad we did it before the day got too hot.
When Ian and John stopped to swim I couldn't resist joining them, and had a quick plunge into the waves too. It was very invigorating.
I tied my wet sarong and swimming costume onto the outside of the backpack. And my sandals too, and walked the last bit barefoot.
But the shoes had to go back on again as we reached the end of the beach, and followed the path up the cliff once more.
We were on the lookout for a recommended detour to a see a blowhole. This rocky peninsula looked promising and as there was a path down to it we followed it to see.
Yes, this was the place! As the waves came in they went under this rock and blasted out the hole in a plume of spray.
We climbed up the rocks to see the blowhole from above.
It was exciting to watch and so beautiful. The were rainbows in the spray, and of course we got drenched in the salty mist.
Nearby there were a couple of sandy beaches, and a rocky overhang providing some shade. It was a pity that the rest of our group had missed the detour and walked on, as this lovely spot was heaven. Michele, Ian, John and I spent a good few hours here, swimming, exploring and relaxing.
There was easy access to safe rock pools with sandy floors... perfect for wallowing. The water was gorgeous... perfect temperature, clean, fizzy, refreshing. I had numerous dips.
Slightly further out the rock pools were full of fish and other sea life.
The blowhole continued to entertain.
We all spent some time playing in the sand.
And the clouds in the sky were amazing.
After lunch we had to press on as we still had quite a long walk. The scenery continued to dazzle... this stretch of coast is so wild and empty... almost too lovely for words.
Interesting weathering on this sandstone cliff. I was intrigued by the holes.
At times the path veered inland through the coastal bush...
... then returned to the coast, to rock pools and swimming places we would love to have had the time to explore further.
After a good couple of hours of walking we spotted Vaalkrans, our overnight cottage, perched on a cliff.
Wow, what a setting!
From the house, we looked back along the coast we'd walked today.
In the other direction we looked down into the bay directly in front of the house. We'd hear the roar of the waves crashing onto the rocks tonight.
And beneath the house: a cave.
We had a very relaxed evening. I had to laugh at Rainer's climbing up to the spot with cellphone reception, marked with a cairn: he went to check the scores in the SA v India cricket match. The rest of us chilled and chatted, feet up, watching first the sunset then the campfire. I was feeling wonderfully content after my day of walking, sun and sea. Hungry too. John and his helpers made a delicious curry and we all got the giggles at the dinner table. This was our last night together. Only one day of walking left.
Next up: Day Five