De Hoop Nature Reserve is a World Heritage site and offers the finest whale viewing in southern Africa. The marine protected area , that extends 5 kilometers out to sea, is one of the largest areas in Africa, providing a sanctuary for a vast array of marine life. It’s also a bird watchers’ paradise and is home to more than 80 species of game. It’s in the Overberg region near the southern tip of Africa and can be approached from either Bredasdorp or Swellendam. De Hoop reserve is the perfect venue for the whale watching since almost the 40% of the global Southern Right whale population come to the bay each year to breed.
The most beautiful place to spot the whales and have a walk is the beach of Koppie Allen. Here you have the opportunità to walk along the undeveloped coast and experience protected marine life in the rock pools and spectacular sand dunes. The daily visitors can start from here and either walk along the beach or take an exploratory ramble across the rocky shore. The first coastal trail is 5 km (towards Vaalkrans), the other one is 8 km (towards Die Mond).
If you decide to spend more days here and sleep inside the reserve, the activities you can do are different : hiking, mountain biking, boat trip, wildlife and bird watching. The ‘’whale trail‘’, an unforgettable experience, taking you through a unique Western Cape’s landscape and the route stretches over 55km, from Potberg to Koppie Alleen, with five overnight stops. You have to book in advance because reservations are limited to group bookings of either 6 or 12.If you like exploring De hoop by bike, there are several mountain bike trails (guided or at your own leisure ) through the reserve. You can also do wildlife and bird watching, here you could spot bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, baboon , ostrich, vulture and more than 200 bird species.
Website : http://www.dehoopcollection.com/
Where to sleep: https://apps.hti-systems.com/dehoop/dehoop/desktop.html?locale=en ( inside the Reserve ) , Swellendam, Bredasdorp or Witsand (all outside the Reserve). I slept in Witsand at Whale watchers Inn.
Entrance fee: 40 rand
How to get there: Self-drive from Cape Town: Take N2 to Caledon. From Caledon drive through Napier to Bredasdorp. From Bredasdorp take the R319 to Swellendam. At about 6kms turn right – sign posted De Hoop / Malgas / Infanta. Gravel road for 35 km until you see a sign to the right – De Hoop Nature Reserve. From Witsand drive on the R324 for some km then turn left following the sign to Malgas and De Hoop reserve. In Malgas you have to cross the river with a small ferry barge (the ride is just 5 minutes and it carries only 3 vehicles).
Self-drive from Swellendam: drive on N2 for 13km in the direction of Cape Town, turn left onto gravel road, signed Spitskop. Continue on this road for about 45 km until you reach a T-junction. Turn left at the T-junction signed Malgas / Infanta and travel approx 2 km before you turn right onto the De Hoop Pad signed BUCHU BUSHCAMP / DE HOOP. It is 7 km from this turn off to the Main Gate of the Park and a further 8 km to the office.