De Hoop is home to one of SA’s largest marine protected areas, and shelters the largest population of whales on South Africa’s shores. Southern-right whales come to calve and mate in the sheltered bays during winter and spring. Importantly, the reserve is home to the only breeding colony of Cape Vultures in the Western Cape. Size: 34 000 hectares. Situated just to the east of Cape Agulhas, on the southern-most tip of South Africa.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
At first sight, De Hoop Nature Reserve is not as wild as Kgalagadi or Kruger, but it is unique. It's oozing scenic Cape beauty and boasts several unrivalled physical features, including the De Hoop Vlei, which was South Africa's first RAMSAR birding site, and perhaps one of the most important birding areas on the continent.
Then there's the Marine Protected Area. If you could scuba dive here (you need a permit though), it would certainly strike you as one of the wildest places on Earth! Most pertinent are the several hundred southern-right whales which come into these waters to breed and calve during springtime. (Unfortunately, there are no boat trips at De Hoop - I would think that some sort of controlled access to the marine environment would be enormously valuable - for educational Read more »
Most visitors to De Hoop are bowled over by the superb scenery.
Located just to the east of the southern-most tip of Africa, this CapeNature protected area comprises both terrestrial and marine habitats. It's extremely photogenic, with blinding-white sanddunes, turquoise-emerald water, secluded coves, wild beaches, and flowering fynbos. Then there's the De Hoop Vlei, one of the best places in South Africa for birding, and the Potberg Mountains, which shelter one of the last breeding colonies of Cape griffon vultures in the country.
We are sad to leave De Hoop. Like all of the wild places I’ve been, I’m always reluctant to leave. It seems like the more you find out about the wildlife, the plants, the people, the history…the more you want to learn. And I think you always leave a little bit of yourself at every special place.
I spent the second last day with Adriaan Witbooi – known to everyone at De Hoop as “Ad”. He’s been working here since 1982, but he’s been living in the area his whole life. Born in the nearby town of Swellendam, his dad used to work on one of the farms that have since been incorporated into the reserve. At 13 years of age Adriaan started working on the farm. He joined what was then Western Cape Read more »
Yesterday evening, Thandi and I went for a superb walk on the coastline near Koppie Alleen with Dalfrenzo Laing, one of the expert guides here at De Hoop. He's simply brilliant...full of information and knowledge, funny and chatty.
And his personal story is inspiring. He was working as a petrol pump attendant in Napier, a town about a hundred kays from De Hoop Nature Reserve. About three years ago, he was retrenched ("I was the youngest guy there," 22-year-old Dalfrenzo told us, "so I volunteered to be retrenched first."). But as sometimes happens in life, luck was just around the corner. He had barely walked a hundred metres from the petrol station, when he bumped into a lady at the tourism office, who told him that there was Read more »
Yesterday we again visited the eastern sector of De Hoop Nature Reserve. We had our video expert Timmy Henny with us, and we were hoping to get some footage of the Cape Vultures.
We hiked a short distance up the Potberg mountain, which has good views over down the mountain to the coast. The fynbos in the eastern part of De Hoop is simply WOW! It’s definitely worth visiting the so-called Potberg section of De Hoop, if only to hike the Klipspringer Trail, which takes about 4 hours. Take your camera, and a macro lens!
But as impressive as the fynbos is, the banks of the Potberg River are heavily infested with alien vegetation like wattle, blue gum and port Jackson – so much so, that Read more »
The big, beautiful, bountiful De Hoop Nature Reserve…that’s where we are now. It’s just east of Agulhas National Park, and is quite similar in landscape, but because it’s been a conservation area for longer, there’s a greater sense of wilderness.
And the locals say there’s no better place in the world to see whales. We arrived on another windy day (seems like the wind won’t go away!)…and headed straight to a place called Koppie Alleen on the coast in the reserve. From the elevated perspective on the cliffs, we could count about ten whales within a few hundred metres from shore.
On the whole De Hoop Read more »