Trackways of ancient beasts abound along the De Hoop Coast. Woolly mammoths, quaggas, long-horned buffalo and giant Cape horses are just some of the mammals which left their footprints along this iconic section of the Southern Cape coastline in bygone eras.
Next weekend hundreds of trail athletes from around the country will be following in the footsteps of those extinct species, making trackways of their own in a quest to complete a five day hiking trail in less than a day.
The Whale of Trail has become a “must do” event for the country’s elite, with the lure of the De Hoop Nature Reserve, which was declared a world heritage site in 2004 as a planetary hotspot of biodiversity, acting as a “calling card” for the 53km mountain and sea adventure. Every-increasing numbers of the Southern Right Whale, hundreds of dolphins and over 200 bird species will be some of the faunal life runners can expect to encounter.
Add the traditional high-quality race organization, lucrative prize money and the promise of spectacular sunsets over De Hoop Vlei, and you have a winning formula, few serious trail athletes in South Africa can refuse.
And while, with a few exceptions, international stars have not yet discovered the shores of De Hoop as trail race extraordinaire, as they have at the Otter African Trail Run, it is surely a matter of time before they do.