Jewel of the Fynbos: De Hoop Nature Reserve

Southern Right Whale mother and calf on the surface

Jewel of the Fynbos: De Hoop Nature Reserve

Probably best known for the vast numbers of Southern Right Whales that come to calve and mate within its protected waters De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is considered one of the flagship nature reserves of CapeNature. From the tops of the expansive white dunes at Koppie Alleen and between the months of April and October, these whales can be easily seen cavorting, playing or just resting in the shallow waters behind backline. At seasons peak over 70 whales may be easily viewed with the naked eye making De Hoop the premier whale-watching destination in South Africa.

Apart from the whales, the reserve is one of the Cape Floral Kingdoms’ hotspots and the fact that one can also walk almost anywhere in the reserve makes De Hoop a firm favorite, drawing one back again and again for repeated visits. De Hoop is host to numerous rare and endangered species. Large herds of Eland, Cape Mountain Zebras, Bontebok and Grey Rhebok may be viewed in the open areas that surround the historical “Opstal” area while birdlife is also prolific with many of the fynbos endemics and specials being found in the variety of habitats. African Black Oystercatcher are common along the coastline while the 16km De Hoop Vlei hosts up to 30 000 waterbirds on occasion. The Western Cape’s last population of Cape Vulture may also be seen together with Cape Rockjumper, Black Harrier and Peregrine Falcon on the slopes of Potberg Mountain that lies in the eastern sector of the reserve.

In addition to the excellent wildlife watching opportunities, De Hoop offers a wide array of accommodation from rustic camping through to five-star luxury. Qualified marine and fynbos guides undertake regular excursions that will help you make the most of your time on the reserve and there are a number of designated walking and biking trails that add to the possible list of activities. Situated only three hours from Cape Town, De Hoop Nature Reserve is definitely one of the jewels of the fynbos that is well worth a visit at any time of the year!

Peter Chadwick

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