Whale Trail Photo-Hike (22-28 May 2021)

The Whale Trail in De Hoop Nature Reserve is one of South Africa’s top Hiking Trails and an incredible experience.


Thephotowalkers.com have arranged this hike to make it an exciting, well planned photographic treat. Every detail has been thought of and taken care of.  Transport, food, drinks and carting of your luggage while you hike is all arranged and included. All you have to do is arrive with charged batteries!

During this hike you will be entertained by the Southern Right Whales and their babies all along the coast-line. This is indeed a spectacular treat. You can literally hear them breathing and communicating as you hike – and of course watch them frolicking and breaching.


22-28 May 2021

  • Early booking is advisable to avoid disappointment.
  • There is a minimum of 8 people and a maximum of 12.
  • See below for deposit details to secure as well as price and payment terms.
What is offered photographically?
  • Landscapes that only 12 people get to walk along every day – very few of them stopping to take beautiful photographs.  A truly unique photographic opportunity.
  • Exposure and how to balance light in Manual Mode.
  • Shutter Speed workshop including how to use a Neutral Density Filter*’.
  • Depth of field workshop in the indigenous forests.
  • Understanding how to use a Polarising Filter*.
  • Night Skies and Painting with light.
  • Macro in the small holes in the rocks – where the most beautiful ‘bonsai’ fynbos grows.
  • The importance of good composition using your foreground, middleground and background.
  • How to use hiking paths as leading lines.
  • How to handle all different types of light and how it reacts to natural elements such as dust.

*we have these filters available for loan and sale on the hike – in all sizes.

Who are the photographic instructors?
  • Peter Hassall (National President of SA Pro-Photographers with 35 years experience).
  • Leanne Dryburgh (Western Cape Manager of SA Pro-Photographers with 27 years experience).
What photographic skills are required?


Our photographer’s years of experience behind the lens and years of hiking is what puts thephotowalkers.com into a league of its own.  Between Leanne and Peter, they have hiked this trail 5 times in the last 3 years.

Who is the hike aimed at?
  • Photography enthusiasts, hobbyist and travel photographers.
  • Students studying Visual Art, any form of Media, videography or photography and/or who require an internship or portfolio.
  • Solo travellers who want to have an experience in a safe and fun environment.
  • Couples who want to explore a hobby together.
Are partners and non-photographers welcome?

Yes at the same price as photographers.

How many photographers do you take?
  • A minimum of eight and maximum of twelve photographers per hike.
  • As there are 2 photographers instructing so you will be in a group of between 5 and 10 photographers only throughout the hike.

22 May:  Spend the morning doing a last bit of shopping, site seeing, packing, traveling from the airport or simply sleeping in! The bus departs from Hermanus at 14h00 to the start of the trail.  Arrive at the first hut at around 16h00 – explore the area and settle in around a braai.

23 May:  An early wake up and start of the hike after breakfast.  Todays journey takes you from Potberg to Cupidoskraal (14, 7 km – Moderate to strenuous ± 8 hours).  This is the toughest stretch of the trail which is why we are having an early start.  It will take you to the top of Potberg at 611 meters, with breathtaking panoramic views of Swellendam in the north, Cape Infante in the east and Cape Agulhas in the west.  You will also have a good chance of sighting the rare Cape vulture.  The trail descends towards Cupidoskraal where a swim in the dam offers a refreshing end to the day as well as beautiful photographic opportunities.  An evening braai next to the forest will finish off the day.

24 May:  An early start after breakfast with many stops along the way to photograph.  Hike from Cupidoskraal to Noetsie (15 km – Moderate ± 8 hours).  The trail follows the crest of the Potberg through mountain fynbos with unequalled views of the Indian Ocean and the Breede River.  The route finally leaves the Potberg and leads onto limestone hills with strikingly different fynbos, then descends to the enchanting bay of Noetsie at the coast.  A beautiful place for a swim in the ocean or jacuzzi in the rock pools.  A casual supper and ‘painting-with-light’ on this sheltered beach.

25 May:  A leisurely start to the morning and sun-rise shutter speed photography on the beach.  Hike from Noetsie to Hamerkop (8.5 km – Easy ± *6 hours – 4 hours of actual walking).  This short distance allows a leisurely start to the day and ample time for exploring and photographing the coastline.  Stilgat, with its clear tidal pools and abundant marine life will provide an unsurpassed opportunity for snorkeling and swimming.  You pass several whale watching points and are bound to see the Southern Rights Whales and their babies.  The accommodation is at the end of a lovely sandy beach stretching to finish off the days walk.

26 May:  Early morning Photo Shoot on the beach and then hike from Hamerkop to Vaalkrans (10, 5 km – Moderate ± 6 hours).  It is well worth the long walk on the beach as the views and turquoise rock pools that you eventually reach are splendid.  Pass the sensitive calcrete formations and look out for interesting seabirds like the shy oystercatchers and white breasted cormorants basking in the sun.

27 May:  Hike from Vaalkrans to Koppie Alleen . (7 km – Easy ± *6 hours – 2 hours of actual walking).  Again, a short hike allows you ample time to enjoy scenic landscapes and watch the southern right whales and bottle-nosed dolphins frolicking in the waves.  Snorkel at your leisure or float in the Hippo Pools before walking up to the Koppie Alleen parking where a shuttle will collect you and transport you back to the first hut where the bus will collect you. Drop off at Dutchies restaurant on Grotto Beach in  Hermanus.  At 16h00 the bus will leave for Cape Town International Airport – arriving at around 17h30. If you would prefer to spend Sunday night in Hermanus, a bus can also be arranged on Monday morning – but only after 08h30 arriving at the airport at 10h00.

Testimonial – The Whale Trail Hike 2015:

“Walking with Leanne and Peter provided me with the opportunity to discover and experience the Whale Trail in a unique way – through the lens of my camera.  The walk is challenging, but every day offered different photographic learning.  From photographing the small to the wide, bright light to low light.  And anything you have not photographed before offered a chance for a lesson.  Leanne and Peter are considerate guides and kept us oldies in good shape.  This experience is one of my favourite memories.” Annabe Tredoux.

What does the hike cost?
1) Photography instruction: 

The price of hike is R8500.00 per person based on 8 people – single or sharing. ***

No additional discounts apply while a promotional offer is running.

  • Upon booking – A deposit of R4000.00 is required to secure your place This is the first instalment).
  • 2 Weeks before departure (05 May 2021): The balance of the photography fee (less any discounts), plus additional accommodation and transport (if applicable) is due.
Click to view our accepted payment methods

2) Accommodation:

Accommodation is included and is in overnight huts which are clean.  It is ‘dorm living’ with 4 in a room – on 2 bunk beds with comfortable mattresses.  You need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, towels and all toiletries. “I will challenge all of you to find more beautiful places in the world to sleep!” (Leanne – the co-owner of thephotowalkers.com and long-time hiker).

3) Transport:

thephotowalkers.com is offering shared transport from Hermanus.  It’s by far the nicest way to do the tours and it’s good fun too!

You will be picked up and dropped off where you are staying in Hermanus at around  14h00 on 22nd May 2021 and return to Hermanus at roughly 15h00 on 28th of May 2021.

The price of this service is excluded and is estimated R750.00 each way – depending on the number of people on the bus.

If you are coming from out of town, we will arrange an airport transfer from Cape Town International Airport on the 21st of May 2021, the day before the start of the hike, (please land between 10h00 and 15h00 – out of heavy traffic times) or the 22nd of May 2021, the day the hike starts (please make sure your flight lands by 10h00 the latest).  Once in Hermanus we can arrange transport to the shops if there is any fresh produce or drinks that you would like to purchase – as well as accommodation for you for that night in Hermanus with transport.

Airport transfers and accommodation in Hermanus are additional charges.

On the 22nd of May  – airport transfers can also be arranged either for a flight -from 18h00 or flights departing between 11h00 and 16h00 on the 29th of May  (please book your departure flight between 10h00 and 15h00 – out of heavy traffic times).

If you need to leave a car in Hermanus for the duration of the tour, we offer safe parking facilities at no charge.

The shared transport will also collect anywhere en-route between Hermanus and De hoop.

You are welcome to self drive and leave your car parked in The De Hoop Nature Reserve for the duration of the hike at your own risk.

4) Logistics and Management Fee:  R500.00 per person

We outsource a company that co-ordinates all booking details, dietary requirements, activities etc to create a photography experience that is exciting, interesting and hassle free!

What is included?***

The price of the tour listed above includes Accredited South African Professional Photographer/s who will be on hand throughout the hike, to assist you – no matter what skill level you are.  Our photographers are trained in film photography and therefore have a very deep understanding and knowledge of all aspects of photography.  A second Professional Photographer will join the tour once 8 people have confirmed.

Also included is  the park fees, conservation fees, booking fees, accommodation and the carting of you crate between huts offering a ‘slackpacking’ experience – as well as the transport of your tripods between huts.

The option of leaving a suitcase with clean clothes locked away in Hermanus on day one of the tour,  enables you to have clean clothes for your journey home.

Olympus Mirrorless Cameras and Lenses to try.

What is excluded? ***

Transport between Hermanus and  De Hoop Nature Reserve, all meals and refreshments ** camera equipment, airport transfers, additional accommodation in Hermanus, medical aid kit, and any expenses of a personal nature – including all types of evacuations from the trail.

**Meals and refreshments:

You are welcome to supply your own meals – or be part of the communal catering which is an additional R300.00 per person per day.

Thephotowalkers.com has a portable fridge that they bring for the communal meals – allowing fresh salads, meats and fruit throughout the hike.

What is included in the communal catering?
  • Plunger coffee, english and rooibos tea and biscuits.
  • 3 cooked breakfasts with egg, bacon, tomatoes / mushrooms and toast.
  • 2 breakfasts with muesli or oats.
  • Fruit.
  • 1 evening braai with salads and garlic bread.
  • 1 evening of steak, mushroom sauce, baby potatoes and vegetables.
  • 1 dinner of beef stroganoff, rice and vegetables.
  • 1 dinner of thai green chicken curry, basmati rice and sambals.
  • 1 dinner of gnocchi with a choice of two sauces and a side salad.
What is excluded in the communal catering?
  • All cool drinks including alcoholic beverages.
  • If you love a lot of coffee or tea – please bring extra. We cater two cups per person per day. We bring a plunger with us.
  • All evening snacks and puddings/sweets.
  • Daily packed lunch and snacks to enjoy en-route.
Are crates provided for carting our goods between huts?

Each person is allocated 1 by 80 litre crate – and there is one additional crate for food for the group. In your crate you have to pack your clothing, food, sleeping bag and pillow (or pillow case that you put clothes into), camera equipment that you choose not to hike with, as well as meals and refreshments.

If you are part of the communal catering – you will be allocated food to pack into your crate.

If you choose to self cater – you will have to fit all of your food into your own crate.

The transport service between huts has agreed to transport tripods for us which is included in the booking fee.

What camera gear and essential hiking gear do I bring?

In order to achieve the most from the Accredited South African Professional Photographer, a camera body with a manual mode function is recommended.  However, all makes of cameras and cell phones are welcome.  A tripod is essential (in the event that you do not own a tripod you are welcome to hire one from thephotowalkers.com at a cost of R200.00 for the duration of the tour).  Pre-booking is essential.

Please also include the following in a comfortable daypack for hiking :-  a head torch, first aid kit, a spare pair of shoes, water bottle, sunscreen, a packet for your litter, a light lunch, snacks or energy bars, insect repellent, hat, swimming costume and a light waterproof jacket.

How do I book?

Simply click on the ‘BOOKINGS & ENQUIRIES’ button towards the top of the page.  There are drop-downs that prompt you to tell us which accommodation requirements you need and if you would like to share the transport. You will then receive an email with all of the relevant details.

What if I have a question?
  • Call or WhatsApp Leanne on 083 293 7208.
  • Email Jeanne at tours@thephotowalkers.com.
What should I wear?

This is a hike – so please dress accordingly.

  • Comfortable clothing and walking shoes are recommended.  Make sure you have a pair of shoes with a good grip for the paths and rocks.
  • Water shoes are also recommended – as well as comfortable open slops for the evening to give your feet some fresh air.  Windbreakers come in handy for photographing at dusk and dawn and pockets are useful.
  • Hike with 2 pairs of thin socks on to prevent blisters.
  • Pants that won’t make you chafe.

thephotowalkers.com will communicate with you closer to the of date of departure should there any be any inclement weather expected that would encourage additional items of clothing that are not typical.

How fit do I need to be?

A reasonably high level of walking fitness is required to enable you to carry your own camera bag and / or a daily hiking bag.  We don’t race the trail, rather go at a pace that allows us to stop, soak up and capture the beauty and the scenery.

What if I have to cancel?
  • On the deposit
    Due to the logistics of booking this hike, the high demand for the hike and the non-refundable policies of Cape Nature  – the R4000.00 deposit to secure is non-refundable
  • On the transport
    Once these have been paid they are non-refundable.
  • The logistics and management fee:
    This fee covers all of your bookings and logistics and is only payable once you have confirmed.  Therefore if you have to cancel once it has been paid – it is non-refundable as the work for your booking would have been done.
What if thephotowalkers.com has to cancel?

In the event that thephotowalkers.com has to cancel the tour for any reason whatsoever, a full refund will be issued on all expenses paid to date.


By booking this Photo-Tour you agree to be bound by thephotowalkers.com indemnity terms and conditions. thephotowalkers.com, it’s staff, employees, suppliers and partners will not be held responsible for loss, injury, death or damage including consequential loss of any nature whatsoever while on the tour, in the shared transport, in the accommodation or during an activity. By booking this tour you understand and accept this. thephotowalkers.com will do their best to avoid any circumstances that may lead to the above.

Intellectual Property and Confidentiality:

By booking this tour you understand, accept and agree that any information given as well as any service providers, locations, workshops, partners, techniques or any part of the tour whatsoever is the Intellectual Property of The Photowalkers (t/a thephotowalkers.com).