Ouderbosch to Leopard's Gorge Hiking Trail
This is a great way to reach the Harold Porter Reserve. The reasonably taxing 6km route takes you through a variety of fynbos vegetation (impress your companions with facts from our Fudger's Guide to Fynbos) and has great views of the coastline, shale forests and various sandstone formations. Try and leave before midday to allow enough time to wander the HP Reserve at the other end, where the gates close at 6pm.
Prices: R20 for the permit. You'll need to work out transport as this is a one-way walk, which takes about 3-4 hours. The trail is limited to 12 hikers and starts from the Ouderbosch in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve 5km from Kleinmond. See the Cape Nature website for other hiking trails in the Kogelberg.
firstname.lastname@example.org (they cover the Kogelberg)
Greyton - McGregor Walk
This stunning hike along the Boesmanskloof Trail winds its way through the Riviersonderend Mountains that separate the two villages, passing the 750m (2,461ft) high point of Uitsigpunt and leading you to your destination via a series of waterfalls and pools that are great for swimming. En route you will see plenty of fynbos and protea and erica species. On the mammal front, keep your eyes peeled for baboons, klipspringers, common duikers and perhaps a caracal, while birds-wise there should be malachite sunbirds and Cape sugarbirds, black and booted eagles and jackal buzzards.
Prices and Details: It's a reasonably strenuous 14km hike that you can do in a day. Alternatively, do the "out and back", staying the night in either Greyton or McGregor and walking back the next day (see the Post House, Greyton). Permits cost R25 pp per day and must be bought at one of the tourist offices, where you can also pick up the map. Dogs, fires and camping are not allowed. Booking ahead is essential. Note that on the McGregor side the route starts/ends 14km south of town at Die Galg so you will need to arrange transport.
Contact: Greyton Tourist Office, 29 Main Rd, Greyton.
Tel: 028-254-9414 / 9564
McGregor Tourist Office, Main Rd, McGregor.
De Hoop Nature Reserve and the Whale Trail
The figures alone give you an idea of the magnificence of the De Hoop Reserve: 34,000ha in size,1,500 species of fynbos alone, 86 mammal species including the endangered bontebok and Cape mountain zebra, about 250 fish species in its protected coastal zone, southern right whales galore in season and more than 260 bird species including the rare Cape vulture. Aside from all that, the scenery itself is fantastic and there are plenty of bike and walking trails criss-crossing the reserve to help you see it. Gates open at 7am - 6pm, but arrive by 4pm at the latest to have any chance of appreciating it. For those willing to prepare somewhat further in advance, the Whale Trail is not to be missed.
The Whale Trail
This is probably the most popular hiking trail in South Africa and as such you have to book it a long, long, long way in advance - in fact, book as soon as you know you are going to South Africa. The path runs for 54km and, with plenty of allowance made for inspecting flora and fauna and relaxing, it includes five overnight stops at fully-equipped cottages plugged into the Potberg mountainside or the coastline. Days one and two head out through mountainous fynbos while the last three are strung out along the coast with a chance, in season, to see dozens of whales (and get lots of sand in your boots).
Timing and Prices: Bookings are limited to groups of 6 -12 people - so find a gang to go with. Price-wise: Aug '05- Jul '06 R690 pp, R250 pp for porter service, Aug '06 - Jul '07 R850 pp, R290 for porter service. Prices include a lift back to the start.
Contacts: Reach the reserve from either Bredasdorp or Swellendam (last 50km on dirt). For Whale Trail bookings contact Bredasdorp Reservation Office.
For De Hoop info call 028-542-1253