The De Hoop Collection is a nature reserve on the Cape South Coast that makes for the perfect “close to home” getaway. Encompassing fauna, flora and some damn good food, De Hoop lies about 3 hours from Cape Town and offers guests a chance to relax, unwind and return to nature.
Falling under Cape Country Routes‘ popular Tip of Africa and Whale Route tour packages, the De Hoop Collection is accessed by the most picturesque dirt roads that wind through farmlands, fynbos and (season-dependant) canola fields – their electric yellow blossoms juxtaposed against a sky still moody with late winter rain. Set on coastal headland that also contains estuarial wetlands, the De Hoop Collection is home to over 260 species of bird including the greater pelican, flamingoes and fish eagles. A UNESCO Ramsar heritage site that falls under Cape Nature, visitors to De Hoop are treated with close-up sightings of the reserve’s bontebok, eland and mountain zebra whilst whales are commonly seen from June to November, when they arrive in the warm waters of the Indian ocean to breed and birth their young.
Lying at the African continent’s southernmost tip, the De Hoop Collection offers guests a multitude of accommodation choices – from the lively camaraderie of camping to a more refined stay in one of the reserve’s luxury suites. I was invited to experience one of the historical Cloete Suites – with each suite sumptuously furnished with a king bed, lounge and an en-suite bathroom with bath and shower. Our suite even had a half-moon fireplace – a welcome option during our wintery stay.
The Cloete Suites are located in the Opstal area – a central base from which to explore the reserve. Meals are taken at The Fig Tree Restaurant – the De Hoop Collection’s eatery. Headed by Chef Marcia Tyobeka, the food is a gastronomically intriguing amalgamation of Eurocentric and South African flavours, with the restaurant’s set menu a popular choice. Winter evenings are made cosy with a roaring log fire and the chance to explore De Hoop’s impressive wine cellar. Housed within the circular walls of a repurposed grain silo, the cellar showcases De Hoop custodians William and Nini Stephens’ 3000-bottle strong collection of libations both recent and antique. If of course, finding a wine bottled in one’s birth year (1991) is considered antique. I would suggest settling in with a bottle of local Strandveld wine and a generous helping of Chef Marcia’s excellent Malva pudding.
If the lure of adventure calls, outdoors activities abound include a vulture tour, game drives, hiking, mountain biking or beach-combing. Even a walk down to the beach on a grey day can yield the most introspective sort of beauty, especially when the wildflowers are blooming and the ocean is azure.
The neighbouring towns of Bredasdorp, Arniston and Cape Agulhas also offer visitors a taste of the area, with the latter famous for being the southernmost tip of Africa as well as a fine place to sample South Coast calamari. I had the opportunity to explore Cape Agulhas and brave a climb to the top of the lighthouse last year, during my stay at Arniston Spa Hotel – another Cape Country Routes location.
What with travel within our borders slowly starting to pick up, the De Hoop Collection is offering a a very tempting deal aimed at locals. Enjoy the revitalising wide open spaces of the reserve at a special 40% off rate on all accommodation until the end of November 2020.