At De Hoop, the bontebok have 266 eland, 19 Cape mountain zebra and 146 ostriches to keep them company. That is, besides the more elusive animals like riverine rabbits, porcupines and caracals that lurk around at night in the 36 000 hectares of conservation area. It is also a World Heritage Site bordering 70 kilometres of pristine coastline. As if that wasn’t enough to convince any visitor that they have, in fact stumbled upon heaven on earth, a 19-kilomtre vlei, which is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, stretches across the reserve.
De Hoop Collection accommodation
If you’re keen to explore the pristine nature at De Hoop, make a weekend out of it and stay in one of their exquisite suites. The suites are tastefully made up farmhouse style, complete with thatch roof and wooden flooring. The Victorian bathtub was the cherry on the cake for me. Imagine my delight the next morning when I discovered the tub has a view of the vlei where you can bird spot for hours. Then, when you’re all vlei-ed out, you can head to the beach and do some of the country’s best land-based whale watching.
Every year, some 40% of the world’s southern right whales come to these shores to breed. Females and their calves swim in the clear waters, while males put on spectacular displays. As a marine reserve and World Heritage Site, De Hoop guarantees a safe nursery for these pods of visiting cetaceans.
You can easily walk the 800 metres or so to the beach if you’re feeling energetic. Or, if the wind is howling and the clouds look ominous like it did that particular morning, you hop into your very comfortable Ford Ranger Thunder and hit the road. Even if it is mostly just to show off. It isn’t mine, you see, just lent to me for the weekend.
It doesn’t just drive like a dream, either. It’s pretty darn sexy. The new 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels are finished in black, adding to its sporty character. The seats, dashboard, steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake are covered in black leather with striking red stitching, and it really is the meticulous attention to detail that gives it such a well-rounded look and feel.
That, and the fact that it eats up dirt roads for breakfast. In fact, the gravel roads inside the reserve are so well-maintained that we had to exit the reserve to find some real mud, just to put this beast to the test. The results? Let me tell you: Flying colours. The high clearance and suspension let you take on any terrain.
The 4×4 is a bi-turbo automatic drive and features adaptive cruise control. Its safety features are impressive too, with autonomous emergency braking, forward collision alert and lane-keeping alert. Practical additions include a lockable Mountain Top roller shutter, for peace of mind when travelling with cargo. It’s spacious inside, with ample creature comforts like enough cup holders, a dazzling infotainment touch screen system that includes Bluetooth and my personal favourite: seat warming.
De Hoop is the perfect place to switch off your phone and take in your surroundings. This sectioned-off little part of the universe is so remote and wild that its scenery is worth mentioning as a drawcard on its own. Wide open spaces, lush green fields, age-old fig trees and waves crashing against the rocks are all part of what makes the reserve so tranquil.
You can join one of their many guided tours on offer, or simply explore this glorious reserve on your own. Lounge by the pool while enjoying views of the vlei, stroll through the proteas and other beautiful fynbos or do some whale spotting at the beach.
Activities on offer at De Hoop Collection
The reserve offers plenty of activities for every interest and fitness level. Contact them to learn more about:
-Mountain bike hire
-Guided bird walks
Other facilities include the tennis court, the boules court, the swimming pool and the Fig Tree restaurant.
Email [email protected] or phone 021 4224522
Rondawels from R1,500 per unit, sleeps two
Suites from R2,100 per unit, sleeps two
Originally published in Getaway Magazine.
Picture: De Hoop Collection