Pristine coastal wilderness in the south-western Cape
De Mond is a beautiful coastal nature reserve at the mouth of the Heuningnes River. It lies about 26km south-east of Bredasdorp on the south-western Cape coast, between Arniston and Struisbaai and is a World Heritage Site.
The reserve’s 954 hectares include former sections of Zoetendals Vallei and Bushy Park farms. De Mond was established as a nature reserve in 1986, and it is still a popular spot for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts today.
Visitors can enjoy a peaceful picnic under shady trees along the banks of the river, or explore the reserve on one of the beautiful hiking trails. The 7km Sterna Trail, for example, winds through riverine vegetation, dune forest and stabilised dunes before following the coast to the river mouth and saltmarshes. Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy De Mond’s prime freshwater and marine angling spots.
Cars are not allowed past the parking area. Please do not disturb nesting birds, and keep to specified paths to avoid trampling vegetation.
To find out more, download the De Mond Nature Reserve brochure and map.
How to get there
From Cape Town, take the N2 to Caledon, before turning off on to the R316 to Bredasdorp. From Bredasdorp, the reserve can be approached from either the R319 to Struisbaai, or the R316 to Arniston. De Mond is approximately 200km from Cape Town.
GPS: 34° 42’ 36.81”S 20° 06’ 17.41”E
Office hours: 07:30–16:00, weekdays only.
07:30 – 18:00, weekdays, weekends and all public holidays.
Please note that day visitors must exit the nature reserve by 18:00. Strictly no permits issued before 07:30 and after 16:00. No visitors allowed to enter the reserve after 16:00.
De Mond Nature Reserve – Tel: 087 087 3931
Accommodation bookings – Tel: 087 087 8250
This charming self-catering cottage is nestled in the reserve’s milkwood trees and coastal fynbos. The cottage is fully equipped, with three rooms that can sleep six guests.
Bathroom: Shower with hot water – no bath
Kitchen: Fridge, gas hob and microwave, kettle, cutlery and crockery
Bedding, linen and towels: Yes, but bring own beach towels
Fireplace/braai facilities: Yes
Disabled access: No
Pets welcome: No
De Mond has two hiking trails that allow visitors to enjoy the reserve’s untouched natural beauty.
De Mond offers two hiking routes, both about four hours in length.
Help us protect nature
No pets/no weapons/no canoeing in the lagoon or estuary/no fires/no flower picking/no fishing without a valid permit/no horse riding.
Permits may be purchased for R50 per adult and R30 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.
Trail distance: 7km
Estimate time: 4 hours
This circular trail, named after the damara tern (sterna balaenarum), begins near the reserve office. Adventurous hikers will enjoy crossing the swaying wood-and-cable suspension bridge to the south of the Heuningnes River.
The trail turns upstream for 1km before leading back into the reserve. Along the route you’ll see dune milkwood thickets, limestone fynbos and dune fynbos until you get to the beach. From there, hikers make their way back to the estuary mouth. Staying on the south bank of the river, the trail leads back to the bridge.
De Mond to Arniston
Trail distance: 8km
Estimated time: 4 hours
This linear trail takes you along a beautiful coastal route past the Waenhuiskrans cave, and historical fish traps and middens once used by the Khoi and San people. Hikers will also see the remains of an old shipping beacon – a concrete structure on the beach, which carried a copper ball that reflected sunlight and warned skippers off the reef.
De Mond is a haven for sea birds, including the African black oystercatcher, the damara and Caspian tern and the blue crane. Click here for a comprehensive list of the birds found at the reserve.
Before De Mond became a nature reserve, the area’s sand dunes were stabilised with indigenous vegetation. The reserve’s vegetation ranges from dune milkwood forests to saltmarshes, which sustain the river’s ecosystem. Inland, dune fynbos grows next to limestone fynbos.
De Mond is also home to grysbok, steenbok and grey duiker. The only notable predator is the caracal, which is seldom seen. The reserve also has an abundance of reptiles and amphibians. Visitors should look out for puff adders, particularly in spring. The reserve’s rich birdlife make it a popular destination for birders. De Mond is a breeding site for the threatened damara and caspian terns. The reserve also protects the rare African black oystercatcher and the endangered blue crane.
De Mond is 954 hectare coastal nature reserve on the south-western Cape coast, between the seaside villages of Arniston and Struisbaai.
It is a sanctuary for marine life and seabirds, while the floral character of De Mond is dominated by coastal vegetation, ranging from dune milkwood forests to salt marshes teeming with life.
Filming is allowed on all areas of De Mond Nature Reserve, except for breeding and roosting sites.
An absolute gem! After a few well placed visits i can happily say i will be back again and again! this place is truly one of the best kept secrets of The Cape!
Awesome staff, accommodation and one of the best and most pristine estuary system i have ever seen!
Paid a quick visit to De Mond Nature Reserve after a visit to Agulhas. I was blown away by the beauty of estuary. A true gem and I take my hat off to Cape Nature for their rehabilitation efforts here. A lovely walk on the boardwalk, serene picnic spots. I will be back.
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