De Hoop Nature Reserve
You can get in only by car or 4x4 if wet. The best road to take is the one from Swellendam. Note that there are only gravel roads from Swellendam to the De Hoop, so you will not be able to drive at very high speeds.
By car or by foot.
De Hoop is one of the less-known Nature Reserves and not very crowded. Although relatively small, you can come close to a number of rare animals. Near the camp are normally big herds of Bontebok (which can also be seen at nearby Bontebok National Park). These white and brown antelopes are only known in the Cape Region. There are also ostriches and elands and other antelopes, baboons and a vast number of birds (be sure to bring a book about the local birds to identify them). Some smaller mammals and reptiles, tortoises and snakes and occasional leopards can be seen. The main attraction however are the whales. The Southern Right Whales have to pass here during the whale season for their breeding grounds. Ten or more wales can sometimes be seen at a time from the beach.
De Hoop is also home to approximately 1500 species of plant life. 108 of these are threatened and 34 only occur in De Hoop. 14 species were recently discovered (!) and are still undescibed.
You can drive around in your car, looking for some of the antelopes. This is however not very interesting, as most animals will be near the camp. The better option is to go hiking. There are some wonderful hiking trails starting at the camp. The trail along the dam is very recommendable. Even more beautiful are the trails at the beach. Drive towards the beach (Lekkerwater residents are alreays located there) and leave you car at the bus stop, next to the tiolets and information point. From here, either go left along the beach. There are some steep dunes, but all in all this trail is quite easy. Whales and water birds can be seen best from the top of the dunes and cliffs.
What to bring
You should buy a book about local wild and plant life before you arrive. Important is also that you bring enough food and water (see below), esepcially when staying overnight. Some warm clothes should comfort you in colder nights or when the wind blows. Binoculars and a camera are some of the most important things, if you want to show pictures of this beautiful place to friends and family at home.
Eat & Drink
There is no shop in De Hoop itself. So be sure to bring something to eat, especially when staying overnight. The shops in Swellendam will offer you everything you will need.
There is also an outpost near the camp, which caters for some basic needs. Please note that it is closed most of the time.
When leaving the De Hoop Gate, turn left immediatly and follow the road for a minute or two. You will end up at a private camp, which also has a restaurant (very good food). If, you want to go there in the evening, tell the staff at the reception, so they can arrange that someone lets you in, once the gates are closed (normally at dusk).
There is a camp in De Hoop. You can book accommodation in different chalets and bungalows. There are eleven self-catering cottages (the Eagle Cottages are very nice), some of which are equipped with bedding and utensils. There are also seven campsites and each can accommodate up to six people in tents or caravans.
Near the beach is an old lighthouse, called Lekkerwater, which is highly recommendable for groups.
No matter if you booked in advance or not, make sure to be at the camp by 16h00 or only shortly later!
Go to Bredasdorp and visit the famous Kandela Candle factory and shop. The candles are have very nice African motives and are sold allover the world. Further on is the Cape Agulhas, the most southern tip of Africa! From De Hoop it will take you up to an hour, because of the gravel roads. However, it is a beautiful drive, along the fields and ostrich farms.