A mere three-hour drive from Cape Town along the scenic Whale Route, lies De Hoop Nature Reserve – a lesser-known seaside sanctuary characterised by a dreamy vlei and vast, wide-open spaces. Nestled in the Overberg wilderness near the southern tip of Africa, the reserve is one of those all-weather getaways that’s idyllic no matter what time of year you visit.
Surrounded by rare fynbos, scattered seashells, majestic sand dunes and a diverse selection of game, the reserve is so unspoilt you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a time when the wild Cape coastline remained unaffected by commercialisation and tourism. Part of CapeNature, the area was declared a World Heritage site in 2004.
A charming collection
The array of Cape Dutch-inspired accommodation, known as the De Hoop Collection, comes in a variety of shapes and forms, with units ranging from basic rondawels to luxurious self-catering cottages and fully serviced suites. Whether you’re a happy camper, a large family or a honeymoon couple looking for a romantic escape, you’re guaranteed of pristine nature, spectacular views, and complete tranquillity at this magical destination.
The Cottages (complete with all amenities and an outdoor braai) are priced from R1 900 for four people sharing and are perfect for a fun weekend with friends. For a slice of luxury (and a fireplace in your room), book a Suite (from R2 350 per person per night). For an historic homestead stay, try the Melkkamer Houses (from R2 970), and for a fun, no-fuss experience, the Campsite Rondawels (from R1 200 per couple) are wonderfully adequate and also boast stunning views.
The Shed with a View
One of the highlights of your stay at this tranquil get-away-from-it-all reserve is the Shed restaurant, wine cellar and lounge, which flung open its sliding glass doors in July 2018 after being reimagined and reinvented.
The large and airy space has been given a beautiful makeover by co-owner Nini Stephens, and now includes a restaurant section, a chic yet cosy lounge with a fireplace, and a spacious verandah with unhindered views of the vlei. Trust us, there’s no better place to sip on a sundowner, while the sun sets, with flocks of pelicans and flamingos completing the picture.
Nini’s husband William has transformed an old silo into a 3 000-bottle wine cellar comprising unique and acclaimed wines and, of course, there’s a fully stocked bar with an array of tipples.
As for the food, the chefs have certainly upped the ante, with delicious, beautifully presented, seasonally driven dishes. Open from 8am to 9pm, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and tea on an à la carte basis, with a set three-course dinner menu for R295 until end-September 2018. (From 1 October 2018 until end-September 2019, it will cost R328.)
Fun for everyone
For those seeking relaxing diversions, go for a light stroll on the beach, followed by a pre-prepared picnic. There’s also the spa, where you’ll find it hard to resist one of the restorative treatments. Or, settle under one of the ancient trees with a good book…
Feeling intrepid? Rent one of the reserve’s mountain bikes and head out on one of the many trails. Or book a Marine Walk, guided bird-watching walk, or an Eco Cruise on the Ramsar-listed vlei, followed by a fun game of tennis and boules.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder the reserve recommends booking a minimum of two nights to ensure you experience all the magic this seaside and nature retreat holds dear.
Where to find it De Hoop Nature Reserve, Overberg District Municipality, Overberg