When we reached Vaalkrans at around 3 we found that our luggage had not yet arrived. Since we forgot our pot at the previous hut we couldn’t cook lunch on the trail, so we cooked up what we had in our bags and had a nice lunch at Vaalkrans. At around 4 we heard a vehicle pull up and deliver our luggage. Apparently this is the normal time for luggage to arrive at Vaalkrans, so keep that in mind and pack accordingly.
The hut itself is located at an amazing location. This is the view from just outside the dining area:
We spent most of the evening warming ourselves near the fire watching the waves break against the cliff. It’s perfect to reflect on the long journey you’ve completed.
On the last day we all woke up quite early to enjoy the last of the views on offer. We were rewarded with an amazing sunrise.
For the last hike we decided to pack light since we had finished most of the food we had brought along, so the containers had plenty of space to store the heavy items we had been lugging around in our backpacks.
The hike starts with a short, steep climb to get up to the cliffs above the hut. Once up on the cliffs it feels very similar to the third hike, there are lots of smaller inclines and descents. Since this was the last chance to drink in the sights of the magnificent coastline we managed a slower pace than what we were used to, even with our much lighter backpacks.
There’s lots to see on this final hike
Eventually the trail dips all the way down to the beach level. There are lots of places to stop and admire the rock pools here. Unfortunately we couldn’t linger too long because the return bus departs from Koppie Aleen at 12, so we needed to finish the 7km trail before then.
I wish we could have spent more time here
After a while we came upon a sign showing that day hikers were not allowed passed that point. This was our first real clue that we were reaching civilisation again. Not too long after the sign we spotted some people relaxing at Hippo Pools. This collection of rock pools is a popular day trip destination within the De Hoop nature reserve.
Not long after Hippo Pools the path with start climbing along some wooden walkways. At the top of this walkway there is a little shop. All along the last day we really anticipated having something cool to drink. The last of our ice melted before day 3, so we had been drinking slightly warm water since then. Luckily the shop had a great selection of cool beverages. This immediately brightened our moods as we sat under the shade happily sipping away while waiting for the bus to arrive.
When the bus arrived and we started driving all the way back to Potberg my happiness subsided a bit. It was certainly a great experience doing the Whale Trail, but I knew that when we reached Potberg it was all over. Waking up and preparing to hike every morning had become a routine for me. It was not always easy or fun being out on the trail with a heavy bag weighing you down, but it was certainly an experience I would miss.
The bus ride was a bittersweet experience, then. On one hand I was glad that we had achieved what we had planned to do so many months ago when we booked our spots. On the other hand I was slightly sad that after the long drive back home that everything would just go back to “normal” again. Hopefully I will be fortunate enough to return and hike this trail when I need to escape the “normal” once again!