4 Day De Hoop Whale Trail
De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa

Walk along the De Hoop Whale Trail with an experienced guide and enjoy the natural beauty and cultural history of De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve. This reserve in South Africa is called the Jewel of the Cape due to the awesome diversity of natural wonders.

De Hoop Whale Trail (4 days / 3 nights)

De Hoop Nature Reserve in South Africa represents a treasure-chest of natural and cultural assets. The diversity of 1 500 plant species is amongst the highest in the Cape Floristic Region. Guests on the De Hoop Whale Trail can see a large percentage of rare, endemic or threatened species.

Enjoy the privilege of walking amongst pristine fynbos vegetation. There is also a great animal diversity - from marine creatures like Whales and Dolphins to African wildlife like Zebras and Bontebok.

Enjoy the privilege of walking amongst pristine fynbos vegetation. View the flowering plants at close quarters. There is also a great animal diversity - from marine creatures like Whales and Dolphins to African wildlife like Zebras and Bontebok.

De Hoop Nature Reserves provides a safe refuge for rare mammals such as the Cape Mountain Zebra and Bontebok. Smaller predators and various bat species, the latter in a large breeding cave, can also be found. These limestone cave systems are unique and preserved in a pristine condition.

De Hoop Nature Reserve in South Africa is known as one of the world's most important calving grounds for Southern Right Whales (during the winter months from July to November). It is also an important nursery area for depleted angling fish species.

From a cultural-historical perspective, visitors to De Hoop Nature Reserve experience a bygone era. The reserve houses undisturbed archaeological sites of great significance. The historical homesteads, the Melkkamer and Potberg are well-preserved architectural examples.
De Hoop Nature Reserve offers a diversity of values for people - from practical to aesthetic, from watershed protection to spiritual inspiration. It is a magnificent outdoor classroom with spectacular walking opportunities for visitors.

Melkkamer Area - De Hoop Vlei

A vlei is a shallow seasonal or intermittent lake. The De Hoop Vlei is a 16km long Ramsar site (wetland of international ecological importance). This highly productive ecosystem is the breeding ground for aquatic birds and other organisms who can feed undisturbed.

Many of the 260 bird species which occur at De Hoop can be seen here at the vlei. It also boasts several pairs of African Fish Eagles. Their high-pitched call, the so-called "voice of Africa", contributes to the wild charm of this area.

The De Hoop Vlei is also a safe shelter for 12 waterfowl species during the dry summer months. Visitors can spot as many as 13 species of migrant waders, for example the Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints or Ruffs. Whiskered and White Winged Terns visit this vlei in summer because then the water level drops and the mud flats are exposed.

Melkkamer Accommodation at De Hoop Nature Reserve:

The Melkkamer (The Milk Room or Milk House) is situated on the western bank of the De Hoop Vlei. This remote area originally was the centre of the farm called "The Hope". The Melkkamer homestead was built in 1907. It has Neo-Cape as well as Edwardian and Art Nouveau features.

The Melkkamer homestead is the epitome of stylish elegance. It has tall chimneys, high ceilings and spacious verandas.

Guests on the De Hoop Trail will be accommodated at the recently restored Manor house in luxurious en suite rooms for the duration of the trail (3 nights). The atmosphere at the Manor house is relaxing with a Colonial-Africa ambience.

Additional guests, if required, can be accommodated in the restored Foreman's Cottage. A generator provides electricity during hours required for lighting. Kerosene lanterns are also available.

Catering on the De Hoop Trail

Enjoy wholesome meals freshly prepared either on the open fire or on a gas stove. The chef is interacting with the guests, which adds to the walking trail experience. Please let us know about any special dietary requirements, e.g. for vegetarians, before your reservation.

De Hoop Whale Trail Info

  • Maximum of 12 people in the age of twelve years and older
  • A reasonable level of fitness is required
  • 3 night, catered, luxury walking trail
  • 2 full days are spent walking with an interpretive guide
  • Trail starts either on a Friday afternoon and ends on a Monday morning or it leaves on a Monday afternoon and ends on a Thursday morning
  • Walking pace is leisurely and offers a wonderful nature experience
  • The 4 day / 3 nights De Hoop Melkkamer Trail offers birding, game viewing, fynbos vegetation and marine experiences
  • Bedding, linen and towels are provided
  • The general rules and regulations of Cape Nature and De Hoop Nature Reserve apply

Day 1 - Day of Arrival

You will arrive and check-in at the reception of the Main De Hoop Opstal area at 14h00. You will be met by the De Hoop Melkkamer Trail guide. You can park your car in a designated parking area and then enjoy a transfer by boat/open vehicle (weather permitting) across the vlei to the Melkkamer Manor.

In mid afternoon, you arrive at the Manor house after a slow informative trip from the main Opstal Reception area. Enjoy sundowner drinks and canapés before being introduced to the Melkkamer area of De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Your trail guide will explain and brief you on the routine for the next couple of days. He will be happy to answer any questions. You spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure and will indulge in a wholesome evening meal. After dinner, you have the opportunity to socialize or to partake in an informal guided interpretive star gazing activity.

Day 2 - Exploring De Hoop Nature Reserve

You receive an early wake-up call before sunrise. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, have some rusks or freshly squeezed orange juice. Fruit and cereals will also be served. Walk along the vlei shore and enjoy an interpretive and identification experience of the birdlife found on the vlei.

Day 3 - De Hoop Nature Reserve

Day 3 begins with a cup of tea, coffee or fresh fruit juice. Enjoy a light breakfast and a transfer to the beach at Koppie Alleen. Here, you will have the opportunity to walk along the undeveloped coast and experience protected marine life in the rock pools.

Guests can have some fun on the spectacular sand dunes and take great photos. Enjoy Whale and Dolphin sightings in season at De Hoop Nature Reserve. You will be driven back to the Melkkamer Manor accommodation after lunch where you will have traditional high tea. The late afternoon is at your leisure. In the evening, culinary experiences are prepared on the open fire.

You will also be taught about the fynbos vegetation in this area of De Hoop Nature Reserve. You will return during late morning for a brunch and a midday siesta. In the afternoon, after the heat of the day, you will go on a short walk. You will return before sunset for a delicious dinner cooked over the fire.

Day 4 - Departure in the Morning

On day 4, De Hoop Trail guests can relax around the Manor house or enjoy early game viewing and bird watching on the vlei before breakfast. Around 10h30, guests will be transferred by boat or vehicle back to reception for check out and departure.

What to Bring

  • Neutral coloured clothing
  • Sun hat
  • Swimming towels
  • Rain jacket
  • Tracksuit or warm jacket (during summer and winter)
  • Comfortable walking shoes (thick soles and ankle support)
  • Sandals with rubber soles (for walking along the coast)
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Optional: Insect repellent, walking stick, a good torch, reference books, binoculars


  • Accommodation at Melkkamer
  • Internal transfers in De Hoop Nature Reserve
  • All scheduled meals
  • Hot/cold teas, coffees and juices

Not Included

  • Cool drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages

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