I’ve done two Whale Trails in De Hoop Nature Reserve in the past 15 years so I didnt need much convincing to visit again. It is one of the most beautiful and pristine places in South Africa where animals and plant life are protected to the best level possible by humans. Spending time so close to land and marine animals and spectacular plant species will do at least two things for you. Re calibrate your equilibrium and feed your soul.
I spent last week-end in this heavenly place communing with nature and experiencing all that the De Hoop Collection has to offer. We stayed over the vlei in the private Melkkamer Manor House which is a restored building with some interesting history. You access the house via boat so it makes the whole experience quite magical. You can of course also get there by dirt road, but this takes much longer as you literally have to drive around the vlei.
You can stay in the house on a full board basis or self catering, and it comes with friendly staff to ensure your every need is taken care of. Dalfrenzo Laing, who is the Melkkamer estate manager, doubles up as an incredible ranger, walking encyclopaedia, hot-water-bottle-maker and sommelier. He was a highlight of the stay.
The house accomdates 8 people sharing and is spacious, super comfortable and luxurious in a very understated way. You feel very much at home. Create your own flexible itinerary and management will work around your schedule to ensure an unforgettable stay. In addition to the Manor House there is also the smaller Melkkamer Vlei Cottage nearby.
It’s the best land based whale watching spot in South Africa and we saw dozens on our one afternoon hanging along the cliffs. In fact De Hoop is one of the most diverse reserves in South africa with a mountain range (the Potberg), kilometres of coastal shore, sand dunes and a Ramsar marine protected vlei / wetland. You will not run out of things to see and do if you love nature.
The various houses and accommodation are based inland along the vlei, so you need to drive to Koppie Allen to get to the beach. This becomes a nature / game drive and you will see new species on each trip. You can also cycle there if you are more energetic. A range of accommodation exists from affordable self catering cottages to luxurious suites. Check their website to see what choices are on offer.
There are so many things to do at De Hoop. Eco quad biking, mountain biking, hiking, guided bird watching and nature walks or drives and whale watching. In summer you can swim in the two pools on the property. This is the perfect family getaway place but it’s also perfect as a romantic couples retreat. I personally think its pretty perfect for anyone. They have a lovely spa on the property if you really want to unwind to the next level.
For those not wanting to cater for themselves there is a lovely homely restaurant serving country cuisine. This is not a fine dining destination and the food is fairly traditional and rustic. They have a sensational collection of wines which are largely sourced from the Overberg area and you will be spoiled for choice.
I’m already looking forward to going back.
Fast few facts about De Hoop:
- 3 hours drive from Cape Town
- Its 36 000 hectares
- Its a World Heritage Site
- There is over 70 kilometres of pristine coastline
- The famous Whale Trail hike happens on the eastern and coastal part of the reserve (this is a bucket list thing to do if you haven’t already)
- De Hoop is one of the best land based whale watching sites in the WORLD
- There are 1500 plant species
- 260 bird species
- 2 major ocean currents merge in the area
- Phenomenal star gazing opportunities
- Mountain zebra, bontebok, eland, Steenbok and baboons wonder around near the houses
* I was invited to stay as a guest of De Hoop Collection with a small group of media