Considered one of the flagship nature reserves of CapeNature, De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is probably best known for its vast numbers of Southern Right Whales that come to calve and mate within its protected waters.
Apart from the whales, the reserve is one of the Cape Floral Kingdoms’ hotspots and is host to numerous rare and endangered species. The fact that one can also walk almost anywhere in the reserve and that the wildlife is relaxed and easily approachable makes De Hoop a firm favourite of mine, drawing me back for repeated visits.
1 of 12: A bedraggled juvenile Kelp Gull stands on the seas edge after being washed off a rocky platform by a pounding wave.
2 of 12: The long sandy beach to the west of Koppie Alleen always provides interesting photographic subjects. Here, ploughshare snails crawl towards a stranded jellyfish upon which they will feast.
3 of 12: The exposed intertidal rock platforms near Koppie Alleen are extremely healthy and close inspection will showcase an incredible diversity of marine invertebrates and seaweed types.
4 of 12: Herds of up to 300 eland often congregate to rest and feed on the open grasslands that lie adjacent to the Opstal accommodation.
5 of 12: A juvenile spotted eagle-owl peers out from the shrub where its parents built their nest on the ground.
6 of 12: A male ostrich strides out at speed across the open plains near the Opstal accommodation.
7 of 12: Bontebok mate in January and after an eight month pregnancy, the calves are born in August/September and for the lucky, the birth of the calves may be viewed on the open plains.
8 of 12: A dominant chacma baboon sits and searches amongst a patch of figs for mushrooms and fig fruit that are quickly devoured.
9 of 12: De Hoop is host to a healthy population of Cape Mountain Zebra whose global numbers top around 1500 individuals.
10 of 12: The De Hoop Vlei is an internationally recognized RAMSAR wetland that is home to a wide diversity of waterbird species that have on occasion numbered up to 30 000 birds.
11 of 12: A helmeted guineafowl scours the ground closely for food as the sun tips over the horizon and casts a golden halo around the bird.
12 of 12: There are few more peaceful locations to spend the sunset than picnicking on the edge of the De Hoop Vlei and observing the birds flying to roost. Occasionally Cape Clawless Otters may also be viewed feeding along the vlei’s edge.
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