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LOCAL TIME: 10:08 am | Saturday, 20 July
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De Hoop Nature Reserve, Cape Overberg

Koppie Alleen Cottage at De Hoop Nature ReserveDe Hoop Nature Reserve ranks as one of best whale watching spots in South Africa. The setting is far from the madding crowd; rolling white dunes, fynbos, cliffs overlooking the ocean, pelicans ….

Then there are all the other inhabitants – the dassies hopping along the cliff edge, baboons that covet your food, the bird life around your campsite or chalet and, best of all, no crowds.

It is not unusual to see the whole bay full of lolling Southern Right whales in whale season which is from June to October. When the mood takes them, just when your camera has been laid aside, they dish up not to be missed shots of breaching, porpoising and lob-tailing. Take your binoculars with you too for a real close up view of the action.

But whales are not the only wonder at De Hoop. The vlei is home to a huge flock of White Pelicans, that seem to be early risers, so to see some real action, take your camera to the vlei in the early hours. De Hoop has a great asset in its variety of resident and migratory birds and more than 260 species have been recorded. At Potberg the rare Cape Vultures have the only remaining breeding colony in the Western Cape.

The reserve has 86 mammal species. The colorful bontebok, eland, grey rhebok, Cape mountain zebra, baboon, yellow mongoose and caracal are among the more easily spotted.

Action attractions: Within the reserve, you can walk anywhere without danger. There are four day hikes, as well as the much loved Whale Trail, a six-day route over 54 km from Potberg to Koppie Alleen. Booking is essential. The area is also excellent for mountain biking (ask at the office for a trail map) and snorkelling at low tide in the unique inter-tidal ecosystems – an activity not to be missed.

And if you just want to take things easy, there is a good road network through the fynbos and down to the coast.

Where to stay

There are self-catering cottages on the reserve, several three-bedroomed houses, two luxury manor houses and a lovingly rebuilt fisherman’s cottage, Koppie Alleen. All are beautifully fitted out with everything you need other than food. There are also five caravan and 10 campsites with power points and good ablution facilities. Picnicking is allowed throughout the reserve. No pets, firearms or fishing gear are permitted.

Accommodation

All accommodation and trails are run by the De Hoop Collection. Tel 0861-334-667 or 028-542-1253, e-mail res@dehoopcollection.co.za or Website. Day visitors: R25 a person.

The nearest shop and fuel station is at Ouplaas, 15 km from the reserve. If you like exploring, the quaint village of Arniston is worth a visit southwest of the reserve.

There’s a pont over the Breede River at Malgas, about 30 km from the reserve entrance, and from there you can travel down the river to Witsand at its mouth. Bredasdorp (50 km away) is very much an agricultural town and Napier, 16 km west, is an atmospheric village with buy-me cottages, a lunch restaurant and a good wine shop with interesting local labels.

Read the article on De Hoop Nature Reserve published by Getaway Magazine.

More info on the town of De Hoop More info on the Cape Agulhas area