Most South Africans have never heard of De Hoop Nature Reserve, which is amazing when you consider how beautiful it is, and what a great experience it offers any visitor. But it does mean that it’s never overwhelmed by tourists, allowing you to enjoy its peace and solitude. The reserve is dominated by vegetated dunes covered in the fynbos vegetation of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and most biodiverse of the world’s plant kingdoms. In amongst the dunes you’ll find all manner of flora and fauna, from proteas (South Africa’s national flower) to herds of bontebok, eland and zebra. The reserve has a long coastline of white sand beach, and during the whale season it’s one of the best places to see whales breaching from the shore. The park can be explored in a variety of ways. You can drive yourself around its network of roads, or alternatively mountain bike or hike its paths; snorkeling off the beaches and in the rock pools is also a possibility. De Hoop can be done as a daytrip from somewhere like Swellendam, or you can base yourself in the reserve for a night or two to take full advantage of everything it has to offer.