Return to De Hoop Nature Reserve

by | Nov 23, 2021 | Lodging, Parks/Nature Reserves, Western Cape | 13 comments

To finish off my Western Cape road trip (read about the earlier parts of the trip here, here, and here), Thorsten and I spent two days at the De Hoop Collection in a remote part of South Africa’s Overberg region. The De Hoop Collection is a privately owned lodge inside the De Hoop Nature Reserve, which is run by the provincial government entity CapeNature.

Coastline at De Hoop Nature Reserve
Beautiful fynbos (a specific type of vegetation that grows only in this part of South Africa) and wild coastline in the De Hoop Nature Reserve.

I had been to De Hoop once before, nearly nine years ago. But this is definitely the kind of destination that you can visit more than once. (If you’re interested in visiting De Hoop I recommend reading my previous post as well as this one, as they cover lots of different activities in the reserve.) Our stay was courtesy of the De Hoop Collection and Cape Country Routes.

De Hoop is a huge reserve, about 340 square kilometers, and known for its unique vegetation, untamed coastline, and whale-watching (between June and December). We didn’t spot any whales during our stay in early November, but we spent most of our time away from the beach. There is a lot to do at De Hoop, both inland and on the coast.

Accommodation at De Hoop

De Hoop was once a working farm, founded in the mid-1700s and owned by a string of different landowners until the provincial government purchased it in the 1950s. Most of the De Hoop Collection’s accommodation is renovated farm buildings: white-washed, thatched-roof suites and cottages that strike a perfect balance between simplicity and luxury. All the buildings are surrounded by low, white-washed walls and the property is dotted with massive fig trees, which were only planted in the 1950s although they appear to be a thousand years old.

Thorsten and I were both completely charmed by the grounds at De Hoop. We happily could have spent the entire two days sitting around our suite, eating delicious meals in the restaurant, and gazing at the wildlife from our stoep (South African for porch).

The Cloete Suite at De Hoop
The Cloete Suite, where we spent two simple but luxurious nights. De Hoop offers a big range of accommodation options in all price ranges; the rate for our suite is R2900 (about $185) per person per night for a three-course dinner, bed, and breakfast.
Outside the Cloete Suite at De Hoop
Thorsten relaxing on the stoep.
Bontebok grazing at De Hoop Nature Reserve
Bontebok grazing, with the De Hoop staff housing and huge coastal dunes in the background. The bontebok is a rare antelope indigenous only to the Western Cape; there are tons of them around De Hoop, along with a large herd of eland and numerous ostrich families.
De Hoop building
Another pretty building.
Thorsten sketch of De Hoop
Thorsten made great sketches of the buildings at De Hoop.
It’s difficult to capture these fig trees on camera, even with a wide-angle lens, as they are so freaking huge.
Thorsten’s fig tree interpretation.

What We Did at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Although we did spend a lot of time just sitting around on the stoep, we also managed a few really cool activities.

Beach Visit

On our first afternoon we drove to the coastline, about 20 minutes from the lodge, to admire the beach and the snow-white sand dunes.

Walking down to the beach at De Hoop
Walking from the parking area down to the beach.
Beach at De Hoop
We saw many beautiful beaches on our trip and this one was no exception. I took a long walk along the coast during my previous visit to De Hoop; we didn’t have time for that this time but we did take a quick dip in the ocean. The water was “fresh” (South African for frigidly cold) and the current was insanely strong so I only went in up to my thighs. Thorsten dove right in and got completely knocked over by the waves multiple times, laughing hysterically, and I’m really sad I don’t have any pictures of that moment although I’m also really relieved Thorsten didn’t drown.
Thorsten on a sand dune in the De Hoop Nature Reserve
The starkly beautiful sand dunes above the beach. It was really windy that day so we didn’t stay long.

Cape Vulture Spotting

De Hoop Nature Reserve is home to the Western Cape’s only surviving Cape Vulture breeding colony, in the Potberg Mountains. Thorsten and I hiked up to see the vultures with our entertaining guide, Dillon.

Hiking in the Potberg Mountains
Hiking up the mountain with Dillon.

The trail head to the Cape Vulture colony is about a 45-minute drive inland from the lodge. We rode there with Dillon and then hiked for about half an hour up to the colony.

View from the cape vulture hike
The views from up there are amazing.

The hike is very steep (I definitely felt my calves afterward) but also stunning, and Dillon shared his knowledge about various animals and plants along the way.

Pincushion proteas on the mountain
Pincushion proteas in full bloom on the mountain.

The trail leads to a big wooden viewing deck, where we watched the vultures through binoculars and ate our tasty packed lunches.

Dillon at the cape vulture viewing point at De Hoop
Dillon shares his entertaining thoughts on vultures and life in general from the Cape Vulture viewing deck.
Vulture colony
I didn’t bring the right lens to photograph the vultures, but trust me — they’re there. The colony houses more than 300 birds and we saw dozens of them swooping around and gliding overhead.

The Cape Vulture experience was super interesting and unique — I highly recommend it. Read more about the vulture experience here.

Eco Boat Trip

On our final afternoon we took a boat cruise around the vlei (South African for small lake) beside the De Hoop lodge. The trip lasted for about 90 minutes and was very chilled — we saw some interesting birds and a crazy-huge beehive suspended under a rock (too far away to photograph but very cool), and had sundowners and snacks.

View of De Hoop from the vlei.
Thorsten's sketch from the vlei
Thorsten’s sketch of the same scene.


De Hoop has a high-end restaurant, the Fig Tree, where we ate all our meals. The food is great and the restaurant has an impressive wine list.

goat cheese starter at the Fig Tree in De Hoop
A goat cheese and beetroot starter, one of the tastiest and most photogenic things I ate at the Fig Tree.
Breakfast at De Hoop
Breakfast at De Hoop: flapjacks with bacon and fried bananas.

After De Hoop it was time to drive the three hours back to Cape Town and fly home.

After a long break from domestic travel, it was great to get out of Joburg and see some of the country again. I’d like to thank Cape Country Routes for helping me plan my accommodation along the way and I’d like to thank the Western Cape for being so ridiculously beautiful. Lastly, I’d like to thank Thorsten for being the best travel companion I’ve ever had. (And that’s saying something because I’ve traveled with a lot of cool people in my life.)

Heather and Thorsten on the dunes
I really hit the jackpot with this one. Here’s hoping for a covid-free 2022 with a lot more traveling together.


  1. Albert

    Looks like a great trip! Very beautiful.

    • 2summers

      So freaking beautiful!

      • Albert

        I love the fact that you have not been overly energetic on the Cape trip. It always make me.feel guilty if I just want to lounge around on a holiday..;-)

        • 2summers

          Haha, thanks. Maybe I’ve finally realized that life is too short to rush around all the time.

  2. dizzylexa

    Sounds and looks like the idyllic breakaway. I did have to laugh at the interpretation of the word “Fresh” as this is Terry’s favourite way of describing what it feels like outside when I ask in winter, if it’s milder than frigidly cold his response is that I’m not going to be too pleased.

    • 2summers

      Hahaha. Definitely one of the best South African descriptors.

  3. genadphoto

    Stunning post. Adore Thorsten’s drawings, and especially like your selfie pic at the end!

  4. AutumnAshbough

    The white dunes and turquoise waters look beautifully tropical.

    Anyone who gets utterly demolished by waves and comes up laughing instead of pissed off gets an A+ as a traveling companion. Unless they snore.

    • 2summers

      Hahaha. I’m even willing to put up with a little snoring.

  5. catji

    Yes…Cape Atlantic ranges from ‘fresh’ to icy. (‘Fresh’ is a bit…odd. Put it this way, that fresh is not what it means in KZN.) If it was winter, Thorsten would’ve been outta there in a second.) :))

    • 2summers

      Hahaha, yes! I really need to spend some more time at the beaches in KZN…2022, hopefully 🙂

  6. catji

    Wonderful post…as good as the previous one. 😉


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