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01 hiking woman on a wooden jetty in the white sand dunes of de Hoop Nature Reserve, whale route, South Africa
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Dolphins riding the waves
03 Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, in the De Hoop national reserve, South Africa

Observe the diverse ecosystems of De Hoop Nature Reserve

NatureSouth Africa

De Hoop Nature Reserve, a three-hour drive east of Cape Town, is still relatively unknown to travelers but definitely worth the detour.

It's the only place in the country where you'll see such a wide variety of species, with seven different ecosystems existing in a single natural environment. The reserve includes dunes, the ocean, bush, and fynbos, which are home to antelopes (like bontebok), mountain zebras, countless species of birds, and all kinds of sea creatures, like southern right whales. The best season for observing these large marine mammals from the reserve is between June to October. You might also spot seals and dolphins.

The Whale Route is a 34-mile hiking trail that takes you all along the coast to see the whales. In addition to hiking, you can also go mountain biking, snorkel along the coast, swim in the natural pools, or walk with a guide to learn about the birds and different types of plants, like the famous fynbos.

As for accommodations, spend the night in the heart of the reserve in cottages nestled among the dunes, lagoons, and shorelines.

Other unmissable experiences