De Hoop Nature Reserve

Western Cape, South Africa

A 2 hour drive east of Cape Town brings you to the spectacular De Hoop Nature Reserve. Both a land and marine reserve, it covers 60,000 ha. The rugged coastline changes from massive white sand dunes to strange rock formations sculpted by wind and water to endless miles of empty white beaches. Inland the habitat is equally diverse with limestone hills, a vast inland vlei (lagoon) and rocky mountain. Map showing De Hoop
De Hoop is reckoned to be the ultimate place in South Africa to see southern right whales. July to September is best for whale-watching, but you stand a very good chance of a sighting from June to November.
De Hooop Dunes Southern right whale
Rare or endangered animal species in the reserve include the Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra. Other animals you may see are eland, the Cape clawless otter, baboons, rock dassies and the occasional rooikat (caracal).
Bonte bok, dassie, Cape clawless otter, zebra, eland, rooikat(caracal)
The reserve is particularly known for its bird population, many of which - such as the endangered Cape oystercatcher - breed within the reserve.The flora and fauna are impressive too the fynbos floral kingdom dominates with 1500 species of plants in the reserve alone also 86 species of mammal, 260 different birds, 14 amphibian and 50 reptile species.
Cape oystercatcher and fauna and flora species
However, it's not only today that people appreciate the bountiful nature of the southern Cape. Spectacular caves filled with rich archaeological deposits and ancient shell middens that dot the De Hoop coastline provide evidence that hunter gatherers visited this area for more than 100,000 years. Bones, plant materials and shells, the remains of past meals left where people once lived tell us they hunted and collected a wide range of small antelope, tortoises, hares, hyraxes, fish and shellfish and large animals. Current excavations at Vaalkrans Shelter and, in time, at other archaeological sites provide another dimension to the background and history of this unique reserve.
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