Closest Town: Bredasdorp
Grading: Easy to Difficult | Duration: 90 minutes to a full day
Location (Area/Province): Overberg & Southern Cape and Western Cape
Configuration: Various options
Start Point: De Hoop Opstal
Access: Day visitor entrance fee or reserve rate
Beware of: Unpredictable weather, plus sand, rocky terrain and steep ascents
Facilities: Self catering cottages
Cell Reception: Intermittent
The De Hoop Nature Reserve sustains part of the world’s smallest and most threatened plant kingdom – the Cape Floral Kingdom. Close-up encounters with bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, baboons and ostrich are a highlight of any ride.
On the bike
De Hoop Nature Reserve offers 5 MTB routes, recently established by Overberg MTB Events and Cale Trails and riders can choose from the following options
De Hoop Vlei MTB – Route 1 (12km – 19km options)
Starts at the De Hoop Opstal and takes riders up a limestone and rocky, but beautiful, jeep track with views of the Vlei to your right. As you get closer to the cliff and the historic Du Mond House, you will find yourself in the company of bontebok and eland along the way. There are two options – follow along the circular route back (12km in total) or extend the ride to Melkkamer which will give you 19km in total.
This route is typically used for the De Hoop Vlei Sunset Scramble and has the most amazing sunset shots, game and birdlife viewing.
Tierhoek MTB – Route 2 (10km,
The route starts at Opstal and follows the road to Tierhoek on the north side of the Vlei. Mostly open and jeep tracks, ideal for the recreational rider to warm up the legs or for non-technical riders and beginners.
Koppie Alleen MTB – Route 3 (18km)
Start at The Opstal, follows the same direction as Route 2, but takes riders across to the East side of the De Hoop Nature Reserve. You will find herds of eland painting a serene picure as you ride along the jeep track. The trail links up to a paved road taking you to Koppie Alleen. There is an option to turn back to the right or simply go back along the same trail. It is recommend to follow the board all the way to Koppie Alleen, especially at sunrise or sunset. Riders will cross the Dronkvlei Dash Stava section, which is a beautiful stretch just before you link up with the paved road to Koppie Alleen. There are breathtaking views along the sand dunes and the most sought after landscape within the Reserve.
Fat Bike Riding – Route 4 (45km)
This route flows in the same direction as Route 3, but forks left on a sandy jeep track which takes you to a circular loop to the sea and back to the jeep track. You can either turn left again up a tricky and challenging climb back to Koppie Alleen (recommmended) or continue back on the same road.
NOTE: This is not a ride for beginners. An intermediate to strong level of fitness is required.
De Hoop Vlei Experience MTB Route – Route 5 (55km)
A technically challenging and exciting route for the strong rider. Built and completed for the 2019 De Hoop Vlei Experience, the route introduces a brand-spanking new track to the north of the Vlei, going all the way up to Buchu Camp, cutting out any need to ride on the main tar road. Once you reach the top of “Flat Rock” single track, the burn in the legs quickly fades away as you take in the best views of the DeHoop Collection: to the South, a full view of the entire Vlei and towering sand dunes that roll toward the deep blue sea; to the East, unparalleled and unspoilt sunrises over the Potberg area; to the West, across the historical Melkkamer and open flood plains that stretch as far as the eye can see towards Arniston and Struisbaai. Forgotten times and interesting stories can be told about this extraordinary route. When the Vlei reaches its full capacity, it provides riders with an experience equal to a Croatian MTB experience. A lot to elaborate on, but not your ordinary route.
The famous Dennis the Menace single track climb back to Buchu Bushcamp is one of the most challenging, technical climbs to master. Very rocky and steep, but once you have succeeded in not getting off your bike, you will come back for more of this!!
Off the bike
At Koppie Alleen you can relax on the beach, explore the coastline and caves, view whales in season (winter months) or snorkel in the many turquoise rock pools. De Hoop is one of the key breeding areas in the southern Cape for southern right whales. Around 120 whales return here each year to mate and calve.
There are many options for hiking – birders can head out for anything from one to three hours along the vlei to focus on the identification and behaviour of the birdlife at De Hoop; or otherwise set off on a two-hour interpretive marine hike exploring the rock pools and sandy beaches.
Cape clawless otters are one of the most precious mammal finds you could make along the vlei at De Hoop. Early mornings, just after dawn, are the best time to find them.
Best Time of Year – whale calving season from August to November
How to Get There – Follow the R319 from Bredasdorp in the direction of Swellendam, but turn right after 6km at the sign to De Hoop/Malagas/Infanta. Follow the gravel road for 33km to the reserve entrance; the reserve office is about 12km into the reserve.
Key Role Players
Anneke Jacobs – Overberg MTB Events. Local farmers – Niel Neethling (Potberg Trails), Eduard van Eeden (Modder Rivier_, Adam Albertyn (Katberg and Overgerg Agri), Hendrico Burger, Johan Kriegleer and Cape Trails.
GPS coordinates 34°03’20.8″S / 20°28’23.9″E