Slider 5 De Hoop Nature Reserve copyright Scott Ramsay 175
De Hoop Nature Reserve

Map of Reserve area

De Hoop is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature.

Where to Stay

Potberg Eco Venue
De Hoop Nature Reserve

What to Do

Bring along your binoculars to get up close and personal with some of the 260 bird species in the reserve. Potberg at De Hoop is home to the only remaining Western Cape breeding colony of the rare Cape vulture.

Hiking trails

This beautiful and diverse nature reserve is a hiking paradise. De Hoop’s Klipspringer and Coastal trails allow visitors to explore the reserve’s rich plant and wildlife.

De Hoop is also renowned for the famous Whale Trail, a multi-day hike that traverses stunning scenery and offers the chance to spot southern right whales along the coastline.

De Hoop Coastal Trail

This linear trail begins at Koppie Alleen – a great viewpoint for whale watching. From here, visitors can either walk along the beach or take an exploratory ramble across the rocky shore. Use the boardwalk to get to the water's edge, turning left to explore rock pools, limestone cliffs and rocky outcrops. The beach walk is to your right.

Both walks are best at low tide, when the beach sand is most suitable for walking and coastal limestone platforms become exposed. A tide table is available at the office and at the gate. Please take care not to trample the fragile vegetation on the beach route.

De Hoop Klipspringer Trail

Trail distance: 6km

Estimated time: 2 hours

This circular trail winds across the Potberg Mountains, in the north-eastern section of the reserve. The hike begins at Potberg’s environmental education centre. The views of the Breede River valley are breathtaking. Hikers will also see the Cape vulture colony – the only remaining breeding colony in Western Cape.


Permits may be purchased for R50 per adult and R30 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.

Trail preparation

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
  • Do not hike alone.
  • Carry enough food and water with you.
  • Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
  • Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
  • Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
  • Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
  • Obey all signage.
  • Stay in a group and on the trails.
Enjoy De Hoop’s natural beauty from your saddle on one of the many mountain bike trails through the reserve. Please use sunscreen, riding gear and make sure you have plenty of water on the trail.
De Hoop’s large, clear rock pools are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

De Hoop’s marine reserve is a breeding ground for the southern right whale. About 120 whales return to these waters every year to mate and calve.

The high dunes at Koppie Alleen offer an excellent vantage point for whale watching.

Visitors should be on the lookout for bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, grey rhebok, baboon and yellow mongoose. De Hoop is also home to the shy caracal and leopard.

Trail distance: Approximately 55km

The Whale Trail is an unforgettable experience, taking you through one of the Western Cape’s most unique and diverse nature reserves.

The route stretches over 55km, from Potberg to Koppie Alleen, with five overnight stops (hikers spend the first night at Potberg before starting the trail). The unspoilt natural beauty on this trail is unsurpassable, leading through lush fynbos and offering stunning views of the coast.

De Hoop is known as one of the best land-based whale-watching spots in the world. Between June and November, the coastline is transformed as southern right whales migrate here to breed and look after their young.

Unfortunately, children below the age of eight are not allowed on the trail. The route is fairly strenuous, varying in intensity.

Reservations are limited to group bookings of either six or 12. The tariff includes the shuttle service from Koppie Alleen, where the trail ends, back to the Potberg tourism office and the undercover Whale Trail parking area.

Day 1: Potberg to Cupidoskraal

Potberg Hut

Trail distance: 15km Estimated time: 8 hours Get up early to tackle the first, and toughest, stretch of the trail. Hikers will walk to the top of Potberg (611m), which has breathtaking panoramic views of Swellendam, the Indian Ocean and the Breede River, Cape Infanta and Cape Agulhas. Keep your eyes open for the rare Cape vulture. The trail descends along the watershed above Grootkloof towards Cupidoskraal, where you will find erica and protea species that grow only here and nowhere else in the world! You can end your day by cooling off in the refreshing dam.

Day 2: Cupidoskraal to Noetsie

Trail distance: 14.7km

Estimated time: 8 hours

On the second day, hikers walk to the Noetsie cottages. The Noetsie cottages have just been completely rebuilt on the footprint of the old cabins, with minimum ecological impact in mind. Day Two's trail follows the crest of the Potberg through mountain fynbos with unequalled views of the Indian Ocean and the Breede River. The route finally exits Potberg and leads onto limestone hills with strikingly different fynbos, then descends to the enchanting bay of Noetsie at the coast.


Day 3: Noetsie to Hamerkop

The newly built Noetsie huts

Trail distance: 7.8km Estimated time: 6 hours (3 hours of actual walking with the rest suggested for several break periods) There is ample time for exploring the coastline on this stretch, as day three takes you along the coast, with the Marine Protected Area on your left. Stilgat is a most enjoyable stop. Several vantage points lie ahead until you reach a beach stretching a short distance to Hamerkop Cottage.

Day 4: Hamerkop to Vaalkrans

Hamerkop Hut

Trail distance: 10.5km

Estimated time: 6 hours

The long beachwalk on day four can be quite strenuous. Allow time to rest. On the way you pass Lekkerwater lodge. Look out for the shy oystercatchers and whitebreasted cormorants basking in the sun. The intertidal pools on the wave-cut rock platforms and coral reefs are remarkable sights. The last stretch to Vaalkrans ambles through diverse coastal vegetation.

Day 5: Vaalkrans to Koppie Alleen

Vaalkrans hut

Trail distance: 7km Estimated time: 6 hours (3 hours of actual walking with the rest suggested for several break periods) This is a short hike through coastal thickets with ample time to soak up the last of the scenic landscapes. There are two alternative routes for high and low tide. Hippo Pools offers great swimming before the path leads up to Koppie Alleen where the trail ends.


There are five comfortable cottages along the Whale Trail.

Luggage transport

This is slack-packing at its finest. Your extra luggage is transported every day to the next cottage, so all you need to carry on the trail is a day pack. The 60-litre transport containers are waiting for you at Potberg cottage.

Up to 14 units per group of 12 are allowed, or seven units per group of six. Hikers pay for each container transported to the next cottage, including units used as cooler boxes on the trail.

Please note

The Denel Overberg Testing Range occasionally uses the eastern sector of De Hoop Nature Reserve for missile testing. CapeNature receives limited notice of these tests. Although we try to minimise disruption to our hikers, it may be necessary for us to evacuate groups from the Whale Trail while the tests are being conducted.

By participating in the Whale Trail, you acknowledge and accept that missile testing may be conducted at any particular time. You further accept to indemnify CapeNature, its employees, agents, contractors and any other persons affiliated thereto, from any damage, loss or injury, which may occur as a result of an evacuation or otherwise.

For more information please contact our booking office on 087 087 8250.

De Hoop has one of the best hiking trails in South Africa: the Whale Trail. This route offers coastal and mountain walking with spectacular views and of course plenty opportunities for whale watching. The route is a five-day trail featuring well equipped and recently upgraded accommodation on each of the five nights.

To get a taste of De Hoop Nature Reserve, watch the video below:

Please note: The management of the tourism activities and accommodation facilities of the cottages and camping sites at De Hoop Nature Reserve (excluding the Whale Trail) is handled by De Hoop Collection.

To find out more, download the De Hoop Nature Reserve brochure below.

How to get there

Potberg & Whale Trail:

Take the N2 from Cape Town to Caledon. Turn right at the second turn off to Caledon, where you will find the Venster Restaurant on your left side. Drive through Caledon and then continue on the R316 to Bredasdorp, via Napier. At the 3rd four-way stop street in Bredasdorp, turn left into All Saints Street (Caltex garage on left corner). Travel approximately 8 km on the R319 to Swellendam (past the silos on right hand side). Turn right onto the gravel road signposted Infanta, Malgas and De Hoop. Travel for approximately 50 km straight on to Potberg. (Do not turn right at the De Hoop turn-off). Follow whale trail signs. Go past Ouplaas School. Potberg gate is approximately 10 km from the school.

Koppie Alleen & De Hoop Collection:

Take N2 to Caledon. From Caledon drive through Napier to Bredasdorp. From Bredasdorp take the R319 to Swellendam. At about 6kms turn right – sign posted De Hoop/Malgas/Infanta. Follow the gravel road for 35kms until you see a sign to the right – De Hoop Nature Reserve.

GPS Co-Ordinates (for reserve office/campsite): 34.454040 S 20.400098 E

GPS Co-Ordinates (for Potberg reserve office): 34. 22 29 S 20.32 00 E

General information

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 542 1114/5. If the landline does not connect, or just rings, this means that the line is down.

Whale Trail and permit bookings Tel: 087 087 8250


Only group bookings of six or twelve permitted. R1 920 per person. Portage R520 per unit (box).

See Tariffs
Conservation Fees


Day Access = R50


Day Access = R30

Book Now
De Hoop Nature Reserve Filming

De Hoop lies at the southernmost tip of Africa, where mountains meet the sea and create a fusion between freshwater and marine habitats that support a staggering array of terrestrial and aquatic life. Encompassing roughly 34 000 hectares, this World Heritage Site is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature.

Find out more
Visitors Gallery
Events Calendar
1 Aug 2022
Marine Protected Areas Day
31 Jul 2022
4 Dec 2021
Virtual Penguin Palooza
26 Oct 2021
A Marine Safari webinar

Other Reserves Nearby

Boosmansbos Wilderness Area
View reserve
Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve
View reserve
De Mond Nature Reserve
View reserve