De Hoop Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site, is an excellent option for travelers seeking a thrilling range of experiences amidst the pure white sands and colorful fynbo fields east of Cape Agulhas. If you enjoy nature walks, hikes, bike rides, drives, and plenty of beach activities, De Hoop is perfect for you! The reserve is situated on the Garden Route, specifically in the Overberg region between Cape Town and Knysna. It’s just over 3 hours from the Mother City! Covering 34,000 hectares, De Hoop has a lot of ground to explore – and its coastline stretches for 70 kilometers.
De Hoop wildlife - whales and excellent birdlife
With none of the Big Five, De Hoop still offers many wonderful wildlife surprises. One major attraction within the reserve comprises the massive southern right whales, who swim all the way from Antarctica to De Hoop to mate and to calve. They can be viewed from June to October, the winter months, and are a huge highlight of a stay in the reserve! Other aquatic mammals in residence throughout winter include Bryde’s whale, humpback whale, and dolphin.
Inland, you can look out for 86 mammal species! De Hoop’s geographical features include sand dunes, vlei wetlands, and mountains, providing habitats for a fine assortment of wildlife. You can enjoy sightings of the glamorous Cape leopard, caracal, Cape mountain zebra, eland, bontebok, grey rhebok, yellow mongoose, and chacma baboon. There are also 260 types of bird, among them waterbirds such as the black oystercatcher, currently an endangered species. And De Hoop is home to South Africa’s only colony of Cape vultures – known as Cape griffon too, this large raptor can be spotted soaring as high as the reserve’s Potberg Mountains!
Many of the activities available in De Hoop focus on the wildlife. Whale watching, during the winter, is offered from the reserve’s beaches and sand dunes, as boat trips are not allowed here. However, if you pay a little extra, you can board a helicopter and get a bird’s-eye view of all the aquatic action! The other wildlife can be viewed on walks, hikes, bike rides, and drives. Keen botanists will love taking a close look at the fynbos and other plant life – De Hoop is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and boasts the world’s highest-known number of plant species!
There are also plenty of things to do on the beach, including swimming, volleyball, cricket, and croquet. Sports fans can have a go at dune boarding, and in between activities you can simply relax on the sands or amidst the fynbos and tuck into a delicious picnic.
Time/s of year to travel
For avid whale watchers, the best months to visit De Hoop are June through to October. Sometimes the big guys turn up as early as May! Staying here in August and September guarantees great sightings, and this is also the top time for hiking, biking, and dune boarding. November marks the beginning of summer – from then until March, the weather is warm and sea swimming is particularly pleasant.
We recommend two properties within the reserve, both owned and operated by Morukuru Family De Hoop. The company’s Beach Lodge offers deluxe accommodation suitable for solos, couples, honeymooners, and small families. If you are considering a vacation here as a large group of family members and/or friends, we suggest Ocean House – booked on an exclusive basis, this luxurious home can sleep up to eight adults and four children.
For more information about De Hoop, please contact a member of the YZ team!