It’s not always easy travelling with friends – not to mention family. One person wants activities galore, another just wants to chill and relax, the next needs animal sightings to tick off the list…
Luckily, the remarkable thing about De Hoop Nature Reserve on the Cape South Coast is that it pretty much covers most preferences. Located about three hours’ drive from Cape Town, the De Hoop conservation area of 36 000 ha is a World Heritage Site.
When I visited, it was with a bestie and our toddler boys in tow. We and the boys had a blast! From the moment we arrived, the little ones were shouting ‘bokkie’ and ‘zebra’ as we drove past bontebok and other wild animals aplenty. Even the reception area had two large ostriches welcoming us.
The clever thing about De Hoop Collection, which runs the reserve, is that they have accommodation to suit every taste – and pocket: the Opstal Manor House is perfect for lovebirds; there are camping, rondawels and caravan sites for budget-minded; self-catering houses (where we stayed) are perfect for families; and those craving to get away from it all can stay across the vlei in an isolated and charming cottage.
During our visit, our main aim was to get to the beach and try to spot some whales, and we weren’t disappointed. We saw seven in the bay on our walk down to the fascinating rock pools and beach. And the walk there, surrounded by dunes and veld flowers, was perfectly manageable for the little ones too. More energetic hikers can criss-cross the dunes, while there are also mountain bike trails from which to enjoy the varied scenery and flora and fauna up close.
Guides are available to take keen enthusiasts on marine walks, birdwatching excursions, stargazing trips and interpretive fynbos walks and MTB rides, while eco quad-biking is a must for those wanting something a little more adrenalin-fuelled.
As for us, an afternoon walk past the cliffs, where we heard baboons call across the vlei, a morning pottering on the beach watching whales, a lovely dinner in the authentic restaurant and even more ‘bokkie’-spotting was all we needed.
Next time, we’ll invite the husbands along – De Hoop is too good not to be shared!