De Hoop Nature Reserve is best known for its incredible land-based whale watching and the famous Whale Trail multi-day hike. But did you know you can explore this magnificent Cape Nature Reserve’s trails by bike too? Check out the De Hoop MTB Trails in this month’s MTB Routes feature.
Words and Images by Jacques Marais
This time, decide to trip to the south of the N2 into the Overstrand Region, where the unequalled De Hoop Reserve rates as a compulsory stop. This conservation destination is one of the Cape’s premier hiking destinations, with the Whale Trail offering an unparalleled coastal experience.
You can expect a pristine wilderness, where the headspace will come and find you. Windswept dunes, rolling fynbos meadows, cliff-top hiking trails, spreading trees rooted deep within the southern tip of Africa and, of course, the mesmerizingly blue swathe of shimmering sea.
It is to the ocean that most visitors flock, in order to gape at vast pods of gargantuan southern right whales breaching and crashing in the waves, which suits me just fine. I like the whales, too, but there are just as many treasures hidden on terra firma in this World Heritage site.
Crested woodpeckers nest within hollowed-out branches of gnarled milkwood trees; industrious dung beetles get their shit together to roll it doggedly in great balls to wherever they keep their precious erm … shit; pelicans laboriously take to the air, but then soar flamboyantly like great Lockheed craft as they spiral upon the air currents…
And over the bars of your bike, you’re bound to bump into great herds of eland gathering at dawn to go galumphing across the monochromatic fynbos plains. Those who are sharp of eye may even spot a few Cape clawless otters performing their mercurial aqua ballet upon the edge of the endless vlei.
Within this wide-sky space, you will also find the Fig Tree Restaurant, and unlike most park eateries, this one is a culinary gem, featuring both fabulous food and superb wines. (The Lomond Syrah paired with their rare fillet of venison makes me salivate on my keyboard just reminiscing about it)! Worth a visit? Hell yeah, but go for at least a week.
Check out www.dehoopcollection.com.