De Hoop - Birding
Travel Update Summer 2020: Most destinations, sites and parks reopened with limitations. Check the official websites and read our crucial ‘BEST TIME TO GO' and ‘AVOIDING THE CROWDS’ tips:
Between September to March, you may spot breeding pairs of Oystercatchers. Summer is perfect for birding at the De Hoop Vlei.
Gates are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in summer and from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. in winter.
De Hoop Nature Reserve is a World Heritage Side and still a hidden gem. For us, it's one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's an almost 60 km drive from Bredarsdorp and Swellendam part of it is gravel to the entrance of this outstanding reserve. The journey leads along farmland where you may spot the blue crane in a high number. You can either stay in one of the towns or even better stay inside of the park for several days. You have to leave the reserve in the evening if you don't have accommodation booked. Gates open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in summer and winter at 6 p.m. Nowadays there is a range of accommodations and even a very nice restaurant. When we visited the reserve for the first time in 2005 only basic self-catering cottages and camping existed.
Birding is outstanding with lots of oystercatcher breeding pairs and even the rare Cape vulture. There were only around 30 cape vulture in the reserve. With lots of effort, it became a conservation success now with numbers of about 150 birds. At the De Hoop Vlei which is a Ramsar wetland are many species of water birds.
We haven't seen so many elands anywhere else than here, and even the mountain zebras and bonteboks are common. There are several hiking trails including the famous whale trail which last 5 days now.