De Hoop Nature Reserve
One of the world’s best areas of land-based whale watching is an El Dorado for nature lovers and bird watchers.
De Hoop’s history as a nature reserve dates back to the middle of the last century, when the South African state bought the farms “De Hoop” and “Windhoek”. Originally, the site was intended to serve as an experimental wildlife farm where endangered species such as mountain zebra and bontebok would be re-bred for other protected areas or private landowners.
It is only since the early 1970’s that “De Hoop” has been dedicated to the conservation and protection of the “Cape Floral” ecosystem and has since been considered the southernmost nature reserve in Africa.
As part of this Cape Floral region, De Hoop has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
De Hoop’s coastal landscape is characterized by dunes in the western part, while rocky bays dominate the eastern part.
A prominent lookout point – called Koppie Alleen – is popular with visitors for whale watching during season (June to November).
The wetland “De Hoop Vlei”, protected in accordance with the “Ramsar Convention”, is one of the largest brackish water lagoons in southern Africa and provides a refuge and stopover for thousands of marine birds.
Depending on the time of year and water level, one can observe flamingos, herons, ducks, crested coots, Egyptian geese, plovers, curlew sandpipers and the endangered oystercatchers and Damara terns.
De Hoop’s 89 mammal species include mountain zebra, eland, hartebeest, and bontebok.
Due to the absence of large predator species, visitors to the sanctuary can hike as they please.
Thanks to the bumpy approach to the sanctuary, which can be managed without four-wheel drive, De Hoop is not overcrowded even in high season.