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