21 March 2011
The Whale Trail: Day Three
Date: 11 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 THREE: From NOETSIE to HAMERKOP
See also: Day One & Day Two. Info about the trail here. Map (pdf) here.
We had another early start to the day on our third leg of the Whale Trail. After crossing back over the beach and climbing the cliff we followed the path towards Hamerkop, our next overnight cottage. We had considerably less distance to cover today, only 8.5km. But I was feeling a bit tired and my feet were sore, so we started early with the idea of taking it very slow.
The path meandered along the top of the cliff. It was good walking weather: partly cloudy with a cool onshore breeze. It was a bit hazy too, with a fine salty sea mist drifting in.
We passed the rope access to the archaeology dig in the cave. Imagine that being your route to work everyday? Yikes!
The coastline was spectacular.
Rocky... wild... cliff and caves...
... and the roar of the waves a constant presence, like white noise in the background. I find it soothing.
I adore coastal bush, and was captivated by the variety of forms in the plants and the lovely muted colours.
There wasn't much in flower this time of year. Although we did see a lot of this small pale purple one, with slightly papery petals. No idea what it is.
Tiny cream-coloured bobble flowers... this is an erica of some kind I think.
And this is a lobelia I believe. I've seen one similar in Kirstenbosch, but don't its name.
Another haemanthus too... such a bright splash of colour.
We kept our eyes peeled for other interesting things on the way.
The main attraction though was the wonderful scenery. Of course from August to December one would also see plenty of whales along this route. We kept our an eye on the ocean, just in case, but didn't see any.
After about four kilometres we came to Stilgat,a recommended place to stop. From above we could see the rocky beach and rock pools.
To get there we had to climb down a series of wooden and chain ladders.
They were steep... but I managed!
We all had a swim in the refreshing water.
There were also some caves to investigate.
We spent a good few hours there, exploring and relaxing.
After lunch it was time to climb up to the path again and press on.
My energy levels were a bit low today and the rest of the walk felt long, especially in the heat of the day. Fortunately there was plenty to keep me interested in my environment.
There were numerous lizards sunning themselves. The blue-throated one looks rather extraordinary, doesn't he?
Before too long we spotted a sandy beach in the middle distance and knew we were nearly there.
First we rounded Rooikrans. Ian and John saw an enormous puffadder in the path hereabouts. It's likely I walked right past it a few minutes earlier without noticing it at all. Eeek!
The path led down to the sandy beach.
The overnight hut, Hamerkop, was tucked away behind the dune.
First I hung my wet swimming gear on the clothes line, then retrieved my box of belongings, and then had a long shower. It felt great to be cool and clean again. Life really reduces to the basics when hiking.
This house had a balcony overlooking the sea and I sat gazing at the view for a good long time, until it was time to start supper. Ian, Michele and I were cooking for the group tonight, a couscous dish. Later, before we all went to bed, we watched bioluminescence on the waves. Beautiful!
Next up: Day Four