Search This Blog

Sunday, December 14, 2014

De Hoop Nature Reserve

The De Hoop Nature Reserve (World Heritage Site) was first brought to our attention by Scott Ramsay and later promoted by Peter Chadwick who was the former manager of the reserve.  As South Africans, we have never really seen this reserve being promoted in South Africa.  We did not expect much but were keen to see what the park had to offer.  

It became evident that the park is successfully promoted to foreign tourists who out-numbered the South Africans by at least 90%.  One wonders if this also contributed to the outstanding service levels offered at De Hoop Nature Reserve?
The closest town to this reserve is Bredasdorp, which is about 50km away.  Once you leave the comfort of the tarred road, be prepared for a bumpy ride, especially inside the park.  This is not always a bad thing as the cityslickers have no choice but to slow down, and helps towards the safety of the animals all over. The wildlife seemed very relaxed and it was a pleasure to view them from close up all over the park.
Cape Mountain Zeebra

The main restaurant (Figtree) recently burnt down, and they did a make-shift restaurant / bar in the Cloete Manor House.  This has worked out even better for the reserve and they are planning to keep it this way.  A new reception will take the place of the old restaurant.  One will see why the restaurant is called the Figtree as here you will find the most beautiful specimens of these beautifully shaped giants in the gardens surrounding the main buildings.
A well maintained tennis court and swimming pool is located on the premises for the active visitors and their children.
A 17km vlei (wetland) stretches accross the reserve, which is on the RAMSAR list of wetlands of International Importance.  This is a birders paradise with a wide variety of birds - from waders to vultures - can be seen in and near the De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Activities available for the visitors are the following:
  • Guided Bird Walk
  • Self Guided walk around the Reserve
  • Guided Mountain Bike Ride
  • Guided Eco Quad Bike Rides
  • 1-3 Day hikes
  • Whale watching
  • Interprative Marine Walks
  • Pre-arranged picnics
  • Wine Trail
  • Star Gazing & Identification
  • Beach walk to view the beautiful rock pools
  • Wedding and Conference Facility
We did not have time to get to all these activities, so spending 2 days here is just not enough to enjoy everything that this reserve has to offer.
260 Bird species and 85 mamals have been recorded.

We had a go at one of our new macro lenses, and this is the start of many more fun images to come to our blog.

Aerial map of De Hoop and Koppie Alleen
De Hoop Self Catering Accommodation
 The accommodation is varied, here we stayed in a 4 bedroom bungalow, but had to make use of ablutions and a lovely shared kitchen.


Pied Starling

The Meeting Tree

Klaas's Cuckoo
This was a rare find! and everyone was very excited when he showed himself to us.
De Hoop also has a rich cultural heritage history dating back to the Stone Age.  Hunter-gatherers who lived off the veld and coastal resources in the area thousands of years ago. The 'middens' of the nomadic homestead of the earliest regsitered owner, Peter Lourense Cloete, still stands and forms part of The Opstal accommodation establishment.
Self Guided Route on De Hoop

De Hoop FIGTREE Restaurant and Bar
Grey Heron

Scrub Hare

African Hoopoe

Koppie Alleen Whale Watching House
Another must-do spot is for the visitor to go to Koppie Alleen.  This is a 30 km drive on a 'not so good' road, but once you are there, you will be pleasantly surprised by the shear beauty of the environment.  Here you can take an easy walk to the beach and walk along the dunes and the rock pools, while watching the whales breach in the sea nearby.  Again, we loved it here, but did not allocate enough time for a proper visit.  Its best to go early and explore without having to be rushed to get back to camp before 6pm.

African (Black) Oyster Catchers

Caspian Tern

We were lucky enough to spot a family of Cape Clawless Otters who aparantly are locals to the reserve, but are not often seen by the visitors.  At first they were seen on the grass patch at number 8 of the self guided walk, and then they swam across the vlei as seen in the pic above.
Spurwing Geese

De Hoop Die Melkkamer
Die Melkkamer (the milk room) is a sandstone building on the opposite side of the vlei.  It was once the original center of the farm 'The Hope' or 'De Hoop' .  The name is probably derived from its original use for milking cows by the Cloetes, who owned the property more than 200 years ago.  Today The Melkkamer has been fully restored and forms part of the De Hoop Collection.  Visitors can stay there upon request.
 The park is perfect family getaway!
We found out that there was a breeding colony of Cape Griffin vultures at the nearby Potberg Mountain range and took a 30km drive to the parking area.  From there is an easy walk via the Klipspringer trail to the lookout point, and this is where you can witness these beauties flying above you in the thermals of the mountain.  This was undoubtably a highlight of our trip.  The next time we go, we will go much earlier during the day, because starting in the heat of the day (11h00) is never a good time to take a walk onto a mountain on a very hot summers day.
Fig Tree
Cape Spurfowl
We enjoyed this park dearly and would like to revisit it again one day soon.  It was fairly affordable and is a great family destination in and near Cape Town.