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PPut 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. 

IIf you hike one of the inland De Hoop trails you’ll be knee-high in fynbos – yellows, corals, pinks, purples and hundreds 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. 

CCape Nature run the 5-day, 55km, Whale Trail, one of the best hiking trails in the country. This slack-packing option offers coastal and mountain walking and nature-loving hikers can experience the reserves natural diversity from indigenous plants, numerous bird species to small antelope, and of course, whales.   

Whichever De Hoop trail you choose, you’ll be rewarded with unique memories. 

 

Did You Know?

TTravel tips & planning  info 

 

Who to contact 

 

The De Hoop Collection 
Tel : +27 (0)21 422 4522 
Email: info@dehoopcollection.co.za 

 

Whale Trail permit bookings 

Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190 

Email: reservation.alert@capenature.co.za 

 

How to get here  

The De Hoop Nature Reserve is a 3-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. 

 

Around the area  

 

Visitors can book a tour to view the Western Cape’s last surviving colony of vultures. Guides are also available for an interpretive marine walk or a bird identification walk. Guided eco boat trips are another option. 

Mountain bike trails are set-out in the reserve which offer close encounters with bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, ostrich and the like. These can be done with or without a guide. 

 

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 camping 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  

 

Self-catering or the Fig Tree Restaurant in the reserve has delicious meals at very affordable prices. 

 

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