Undisputed Jewel of the Western Cape
A treasure-chest of rare and remarkable gems earned De Hoop Nature Reserve its name as the undisputed Jewel of the Western Cape. Very few places in the world can boast such a mesmerising setting and diverse landscapes teeming with wildlife on sea, land and sky!
Only three hours from Cape Town and located on both the spectacular Whale and Garden Routes, this 36 600 hectare reserve is truly the flagship of Cape Nature and a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor adventurists. Hikers, cyclists, birders and botanists have a ball exploring this vast, vibrant mosaic landscape where 1 500 plant species, 260 bird species, 86 mammals and myriads of small creatures flourish in diverse landscapes - from sea and sand dunes to wetland, vlei and undulating fynbos fields. Various trails for guided or unguided hikes, mountain-biking or 4x4-drives take one through a kaleidoscope of natural and cultural assets on this unspoilt Eden where several pairs of African fish eagles soar the sky and up to 80 Southern Right Whales surf the sea between July and December.
Bigger game such as the rare bontebok, the Cape Mountain Zebra, Eland, Red Hartebeest, Grey Rhebuck and Ostrich roam the open fields and are unperturbed by the human awe and invasion. Baboons, bats, dassies, snakes, Yellow Mongoose, caracal and the occasional leopard keep a safer distance, but their tell-tale spoor are evident all over.
De Hoop forms part of the acclaimed Cape Floral Kingdom and is the largest conserved area for the conservation of the rare lowland fynbos species. A magnitude of these wild flowering fynbos dapple the fields and white sand dunes with bursts of brilliant colour and fragrance.
Guests can choose from a superb collection of self-catering accommodation – ranging from romantic hide-away chalets along the 16 km long vlei to top-of-the range splendour and old-time romance in one of the historic homesteads. The beautifully restored De Hoop Melkkamer and Potberg, both dating from the middle 1800’s, are well-preserved architectural examples of an earlier era and boast a rich and colourful history. Guests staying at the Manor House might even encounter the late Mrs Cloete, who occasionally comes to check that visitors treat her former home with due respect!
The Fig Tree Restaurant, named after the extraordinary, lush wild fig trees that create enormous canopies for shade on the grass, cater for a cosmopolitan mixture of guests and day-visitors with tantalising dishes – from delicious a la carte meals and local wines to picnic baskets for guests embarking on hiking or cycling excursions or a day at the beach!
The De Hoop Vlei is a highly productive ecosystem – a Ramsar Site of international ecological importance where aquatic birds and other organisms breed and feed undisturbed. Various waterfowl species and 13 migrant waders, including flamingoes, curlew sandpipers, ruffs, little stints and whiskered and white winged terns, visit the vlei in summer when the water levels drop and the mud flats are exposed. The nearby Potberg Mountains are also home to a colony of endangered Cape Vultures.
The adjacent De Hoop Marine Protected Area, which extends three nautical miles (5 km) out to sea, is one of the largest marine protected areas in Africa and provides a sanctuary for a vast and fascinating array of marine life. This reserve (proclaimed in 1986) is also one of the world’s most important calving grounds for the Southern Right Whale and an important nursery area for depleted angling fish species.
Cycling through diverse landscapes to the pristine coastline where the historic Koppie Alleen dune towers over the infinite wilderness is an awesome experience. Lazing on the pristine white beach or snorkelling in the many turquoise rock pools is simply another divine way to spend a magic day.
Come explore this wonderland where Stone Age people lived eons ago and where the middens of nomadic Khoi people are still evident today!
De Hoop Nature Reserve is situated east of Bredasdorp, approximately 260 km from Cape Town. The reserve can be approached from either Bredasdorp or Swellendam. The last 50 km of either route is along gravel roads.
De Hoop Nature Reserve is both the starting point and end destination of the famous 5-day Coastal Whale Trail.