De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is rightly know as the "Jewel of the Fynbos" and given its sheer beauty and diversity of habitats, it is also an important conservation area, protecting numerous endemic, rare and endangered species. From a tourism perspective, the great thing about the reserve is the ability to explore it on foot and this is when it shows its true magnificence as a protected area.
I have been extremely privileged to have been associated with De Hoop Nature Reserve for over ten years and even after I left living on the reserve five years ago, it still draws me back, revealing new secrets to me on each of my visits.
On my latest visit and as usual, I stayed in the comfortable chalets of De Hoop Collections, where Eland, Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra graze right up onto the doorstep and a constant stream of birds pass by. Over a four-day period, I wandered the endless kilometres of coastline, explored the intertidal rock pools and trudged through the deep soft sand of rolling white dunefields. Sunsets were ogled over the edges of the De Hoop vlei and throughout my time on the reserve, life overflowed in abundance. It held me constantly in awe of the diversity of creation, from the delicate pink colorful beauty of Nerine humilis flowers, through to rare sightings of Southern Adders and African Black Oystercatchers that fed amongst crashing waves on the seashore and Cape Mountain Zebra foals that played as the sun dipped over the horizon at the end of the day.
De Hoop is for me, the place where the rush and pressures of society are forgotten, allowing my soul to be refreshed and renewed with recognition of what is actually important in life. I plan and hope that I will be able to continue visiting this magnificant place well into the future and well beyond the next ten years!
1 of 12: The range restricted and rare Southern Adder.
2 of 12: Delicate pink beauty of Nerine humilis flowers.
3 of 12: The sun sets over the sixteen-km long De Hoop Vlei.
4 of 12: A Fiscal Flycatcher uses the ropes of coastal boardwalk as a perch from which to launch after insect prey.
5 of 12: A magnificent Cape Mountain Zebra stallion crosses the open plains near the Opstal in search of the rest of its herd.
6 of 12: Heavy winter clouds gather over the extensive white dunefields.
7 of 12: A colony of White-Breasted Cormorants sit tight on their nests that lie deep within the dunefields.
8 of 12: Coastal caves show presence of human history and one can only image their thoughts as they sat in the entrance of the cave, looking out at the constantly moving seas.
9 of 12: Meter-thick layers of sea shells indicate the archaeological importance of the coastline to humans over the history of time.
10 of 12: An African Black Oystercatcher launches into flight from an intertidal platform where it has been feeding and as a wave crashes.
11 of 12: A Kelp Gull incubates it eggs amongst a coastal breeding colony.
12 of 12: Dawn breaks over the intertidal rock pools that line the coastline of the De Hoop Marine Protected Area.