De Hoop Nature Reserve

February 25 2015

Non tar roads and wide rolling farmland, waiting for the rains, led us to the entrance of De Hoop Nature Reserve where we stay tonight in one of the well-appointed, fully self-catering Opstal Vlei Cottages. There are many choices here, with camping, small rondavels, sweet cottages for 4 and bigger cottages that sleep more. There is a small hotel and a restaurant.

This is a beautiful area with guided and self-guided walks, birding and botanic walks, eco-friendly quad biking and guided mountain biking tails, all through this extraordinary fynbos vegetation, leading to the coast and it's hugely impressive, sparkling white sand dunes that divide the sea from the scrub. The colours and general depth of vegetation coupled with the sand dunes, makes this a marvellous place to spend time and the birding opportunities are excellent.

We rose early from our lovely little cottage to get to the dunes to catch the sun rise, or at least we hoped. The fynbos is astonishing, you would not believe the variance of colours, species and even smells. It's glorious, like snorkelling in Mozambique where everywhere you look the vibrant fish and sea anemones change continuously and if possible, get better.

We climbed up the dunes, hard work, and over the top to a most splendid site. A wild dashing sea with miles of  white sand and behind it, high dunes with encroaching fynbos holding it together. Magnificent. We walked down to watch the fishermen, catching and tagging fish, before releasing. They monitor 6 times a year. What a tough job…if you don't love fishing. We saw the very rare black oyster catchers with its vibrant red eye, beak and legs. This is a precious nesting ground helping preserve the few that are left. We all loved this place and what a fun time you could have with a family, not only learning about the flora and fauna but also being really active. Stay 2 days at least!

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