A coastal sanctuary for the endangered

The De Hoop Nature Reserve extends over 34,000ha of isolated coastal terrain giving way to sand dunes, sloping mountains, and rare lowland fynbos, as well as a marine reserve that extends 5km into the sea. The marine reserve is an important breeding and calving area for the southern right whale and devoid of the tourists who flock to other whale-watching areas. Visitors travelling at the right time of year will be able to watch these giants perform powerful acrobatics metres from shore.

The reserve acts as a sanctuary for the endangered Cape mountain zebra and bontebok, who share the landscape with eland, yellow mongoose, caracal, Cape fox, and the odd leopard. The landlocked vlei sustains more than 250 bird species, while thousands of bats cling to the gloomy corridors of the surrounding limestone caves. The surrounding Potberg mountains sustain the Western Cape’s only remaining breeding colony of the Cape vulture.

Although there are day walks, overnight trails, mountain bike routes, and even some snorkel spots along the rugged coast, the reserve’s top feature remains the Whale Trail. The five-day hiking trail spans 55km, combining both mountain and coastal walking with varying degrees of difficulty. Pods of whales chaperone hikers as they breach and spy-hop, seeming to wave passers-by on.

Highlights

  • The reserve extends over 34,000ha of coastal terrain and 5km out to sea
  • Important breeding area for the southern right whale
  • A sanctuary for the endangered Cape mountain zebra, the bontebok, and the province’s only Cape vulture breeding colony
  • The vlei is home to over 250 bird species
  • Guests can mountain bike, hike, and snorkel in the reserve
  • Whale Trail is a five-day hiking trail that spans 55km, leading across mountainous and coastal terrain

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