Few other reserves offer as complete an outdoor experience as De Hoop and with accommodation to suit all tastes. There are hiking, biking and vehicle trails. There is the sea, dunes, a vlei, birds, game, rare plant species and a mountain. And then there are the whales. Along with the Cederberg Wilderness Area, De Hoop is one of the province’s most well-known reserves and the highly popular Whale Hiking Trail has only enhanced the dimension of all there already was to enjoy here.
De Hoop was proclaimed a reserve in 1957. It was used for the breeding of animals, such as the bontebok and the equally rare Cape mountain zebra. Today, with 36 000ha under its control (one of the largest remaining examples of indigenous lowland and coastal fynbos), management’s goal is to nurture the natural ecosystems typical of this region. To take the objective further, a marine protected area was proclaimed in 1986. It covers the reserve’s coast and extends 5km out to sea.
De Hoop has thirteen self-catering cottages or units, from basic, to fully equipped. But even the basic cottages are comfortable. Some of the cottages sleep four, while others sleep up to ten guests, and one is a large dormitory-style facility. The reserve has ten campsites each with parking for a caravan. They are situated amongst trees near the De Hoop office and the cottages, and look out over a section of the vlei. They have their own taps and braai (barbeque) places. There are no power points, but there is hot water at the ablution block and washing up facilities. Limited freezer space is available at the office.
Birding, mountain biking, swimming, snorkelling, walking, driving… there are endless possibilities for activities at De Hoop. The De Hoop vlei is a wetland recognised by the Ramsar Convention as being of international importance and is the home to a variety of birds. Biking is possible on most of the roads around the De Hoop side of the reserve, and no special permit is required, but the dedicated trail on the Potberg side requires advance booking and a permit, and a little more than a holidays-only approach to the sport.