De Hoop Nature Reserve Travel Guide
Whale Watchers Paradise

A beautiful nature reserve located right on the east coast shoreline of South Africa's Western Cape Province, the De Hoop Nature Reserve is a popular destination for whale watching, bird watching and hiking.

Discover De Hoop Nature Reserve


The De Hoop Nature Reserve is located just over 2.5 hours from Cape Town. Visitors to the reserve can approach it either from Swellendam or Bredasdorp. Drivers should take note that the final 50 kilometres (31 miles) are on a dirt road which can be poorly maintained at times, especially after heavy rains. Driving slowly and with caution is advisable. There is limited cell phone signal on the road into the reserve.


The closest airport is Cape Town International Airport.

Internal Road Network

There are a number of gravel roads within the reserve in varying conditions. The main tracks lead from the accommodation areas to KoppieAlleen, the beach front and De Mond. There are also a number for mountain biking route to explore.


De Hoop Nature Reserve offers visitors the exceptional opportunity of discovering the 60 000 hectare reserve outside of a vehicle. Hikers, mountain bikers and walkers will relish the ability to explore the massive reserve at their own free will. The magnificent views from KoppieAlleen are enhanced by fantastic whale watching from the top of the cliff. The reserve has a great diversity of fynbos and is known for its excellent bird watching.


Mountain biking, hiking and walking are all popular activities while staying in the nature reserve or visiting for the day. The walk down to the beach and along the coastline from KoppieAlleen provides wonderful views and many photographic opportunities. Cape Mountain Zebra, Common Eland and Bontebok can all be seen in and around the camp areas and visitors may enjoy a short game-viewing game drive through the reserve.

Between May and October Whale watching becomes the main attraction at De Hoop when Southern Right Whales come close to the shoreline to mate and give birth. Throughout the year, bird watching is a popular activity and there are around 259 species of birds found within the reserve. The 5 day Whale Trail is an excellent hike for those wanting to explore the reserve and spot Whales along the way. Visitors can also take quad bikes out on a guided drive through the reserve or explore the many mountain biking trails. The area around the accommodation has tennis courts and a swimming pool for those wanting to relax and enjoy the sunshine.


There is a wide range of accommodation in De Hoop Nature Reserve available for visitors wanting to stay in the reserve. 20 units offer 4 - 10 beds and there is a 12 site campsite for those wanting to camp. Hikers entering the reserve to hike the 5 -day Whale Trail will be very comfortable in the well-appointed overnight accommodation.

The Experience

De Hoop Nature Reserve is a fantastic location for families and groups to get away from the city and enjoy a day or a long weekend out in nature enjoying the peace and tranquillity. Well maintained and comfortable accommodation makes the experience even more enjoyable and the ability to wake up and stumble out of your front door as a herd of Bontebok saunter past is unique and definitely makes an impact.

Pitch black nights lit up by millions of stars provide hours of entertainment for young and old alike. Days can be spent wandering through the reserve or gazing out at the ocean looking for Whales. The beach and KoppieAlleen is a fair 20 - 30 minute drive from the accommodation along a dirt road but is definitely worth visiting. The last 50 kilometres (31 miles) of dirt road into the nature reserve can be rather poorly maintained.


The area has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and cooler winters. The average daily temperature during summer is 25°C (45°F) and in winter is around 7°C (44.6 F). The nature reserve is known to be in a very windy area and strong winds blow almost all the time.

Useful Information

The De Hoop Nature Reserve is situated in an area known for its strong winds and visitors are advised to always carry a warm top and to wear sunscreen in summer as the wind often masks the high temperatures. Strong currents and high waves may hit the rock pools and visitors are advised to exercise caution when swimming or paddling.

Cape Cobras and Puff Adders are common in some areas of the reserve and hikers should always proceed with caution. There are no fuel stations within the reserve and motorists should be aware that the closest services stations are at Swellendam or Bredasdorp each approximately 50 kilometres (31 miles) away.

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