Oh my gosh! Hi again! Sorry for this weird schedule this week – it’s been a bit of a wild weekend! I moved on Saturday – and I got so much to tell you, but that’s going to wait until next week, when everything settles down and that I, hopefully, get internet at my new flat!
For today, however, we continue the usual Travel Tuesday and we’re well on our way to finish going through my trip in the Western Cape of South Africa! I originally posted this one on Mar’s To & Fro blog, but I thought this was the perfect time to repost it on my own.
After a few (awesome) weeks in the Cape Peninsula, we headed on a trip in the Overberg region. The region is basically the tip of Africa and represents the southernmost region of the African continent. We spent a wonderful time on the West coast, stuffing our faces with fresh fish, lounging in the small town of Stanford, going whale-watching and ice cream eating in Hermanus and passing by L’Agulhas, the tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Lots of fun as you may imagine – and I will be retelling some of these amazing tales next week!
One of the things we had planned was to road trip to the east coast to reach the De Hoop Nature Reserve. From the highway, we spent 45 bumpy minutes on a dirt road before arriving at the reserve. You have to pay ZAR40 (about 2.30 GBP) per adult in conservation fee before being allowed into the reserve.
From there, it was another 30-45 minutes of dirt road before we finally made it to the coast! We grabbed our bags from the car before heading towards the sand dunes of Koppie Alleen. I was with South Africans and they knew their way around the place. They said the best views were from the top of the dunes. They were right!
It was slightly covered so we were not burning under the hot sun. The gorgeous turquoise water was beautiful and yet fierce. Also, it is apparently one of the best places to do some whale-watching. T and her dad had been on that very spot a few weeks earlier and had spotted between 20-40 whales swimming about. The few miles around De Hoop are a Marine Protected Area (and is also a World Heritage Site) and has become one of the spots where Southern Right whales come to breed and nurse their calves. Sadly the season was coming to an end and we only saw a few whales (and by ‘we’ I mean they saw whales and I pretended I could also see them…).
After walking up and down the dunes, and sitting a few times due to exhaustion (hiking in sand is definitely a challenge!), we made our way to the beach where I got to put my feet in the Indian ocean. Not that warm, I can guarantee!
Later on, we made our way to the ‘land’ part of the reserve where we got to observe different animals in the wild. Ostriches, different kind of boks, and even baboons. I would definitely not recommend leaving your car to take pictures and, where there are monkeys around, to keep your finger on the car window button. I have been told they are very aggressive, so be careful!
After a lovely picnic under a large tree – where I realised I am not much of an outdoorsy person – we headed on a small hike around the reserve lodge and restaurant. It was really fun! We discovered this abandoned boat house and got to see the De Hoop Vlei, the river at the western extremity of the reserve. It was lovely until I was told my foot was just next to a snake hole…I could not get out of there fast enough!
The De Hoop Nature Reserve is about 250km from Cape Town. You can stay overnight if you wish to, there are camping sites, lodges and chalets. You can hike, snorkel, cycle, or just take it relax on the sand dunes or the beach. There really is something for everyone. Within the 36,000 ha of the reserve you can find 86 different mammal species, almost 300 species of birds and water birds, including some rare breeds like the Cape vulture. It is also the home of one of the smallest and most threatened plant kingdoms in the world, which includes 34 species that you cannot see anywhere else in the world.
All in all, you can probably understand why I thought this was one of the best days of our trip! It was a total discovery for me and I got to learn so much and see so much. If you are ever in the Western Cape in South Africa, I definitely recommend doing the detour to go admire all that the De Hoop Nature Reserve has to offer!
Would you be a dune hiker, a wilderness cyclist or a whale snorkeler?xx