De Hoop Nature Reserve Trails, Western Cape
Did you know?
De Hoop's 1 500 plant species are amongst the finest of the Cape Floristic kingdom.
Put the De Hoop Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on your to do list. And be sure to walk any one of the many De Hoop hiking trails whilst there.
Officially the area is South Africa’s first private and public enterprise initiative between Cape Nature and the De Hoop Collection. The brains behind Madikwe Game Reserve, William Stephens and Carl Trielof, came up with the idea of cooperating with Cape Nature and re-inventing this incredibly beautiful and isolated area.
If you hike one of the inland De Hoop trails you’ll be knee-high in fynbos – yellows, corals, pinks, purples and 100s of shades of green. Among the more than 1 500 plant species in the area, gorgeous, rare proteas of different sizes and colours proliferate.
Among these fynbos plains you could also bump into bontebok, eland, Cape mountain zebra, baboons, red hartebeest and ostrich.
Far off you’ll see high white dunes lining 70km of beaches overlooking the De Hoop Marine Protected Area, which extends 5km out to sea. Take a marine walk at low tide to discover rock pools which octopi, starfish and other marine critters inhabit.
The 16km long De Hoop vlei, an internationally important Ramsar site, has an abundance of water birds of all kinds. Scramble along the edge of the vlei on a narrow well-marked trail to spot pelicans, flamingoes and migrant waders in season, fish eagles circling overhead, and, if you’re very lucky, a sleek Cape clawless otter cavorting at the water’s edge.
Whichever De Hoop trail you choose, you’ll be rewarded with unique memories.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The De Hoop Collection
Tel : +27 (0)21 422 4522
How to get here
The De Hoop Nature Reserve is a three-hour drive from Cape Town along the beautiful Garden Route. It's in the Overberg region and can be accessed from either Bredasdorp or Swellendam. Take the N2 to Caledon and the R319 to Swellendam and follow the signs.
Best time to visit
August to November is whale-watching time, but any season is good.
What will it cost
R30 conservation fee upon entrance to the reserve. Guided Bird & Fynbos Walk is R75 pp; Guided mountain bike trail is R100; the Interpretive Marine Walk is R100; the thee-night Melkkamer De Hoop Trail costs R4 900 pp sharing.
What to pack
Stout walking shoes or boots, sunscreen, hat, light rain jacket, binoculars, bird book and camera.
Where to stay
There's accommodation at prices for all pockets, from tents and fully furnished cottages to the 18th-century grand Manor House. The 1872 Melkkamer cottage which overlooks an expansive vlei is particularly lovely.
What to eat
The Fig Tree Restaurant in the reserve has delicious meals at very affordable prices.