The De Hoop Collection is located in a marine protected, conservation area, along the Western Cape Coastline. An easy day trip from the Cape Town International Airport will have you arriving just before sunset, as we did. A quick freshen up and then its drinks by the wood fire inside, or around the bonfire pit outside, depending on the weather.
We traveled to this majestic location, as Spring sprung its first few buds, and the famous Cape flowers arrived. As we traveled along the main tar road, we passed rolling green hills and fields of bright yellow Canola flowers. We were a group of six who had hired a vehicle from Tempest Car Hire bundled all our suitcases into the back and hit the road, for an adventure.
Nearing lunchtime our host and driver Theresa Gibbon pulled into the Houw Hoek Coffee Shop for a bite to eat. Lunch was served in large portions – who doesn’t like padkos – with ice-cold drinks as we sat under the trellises on the verandah.
Being my first time in Cape Town in years, I started the afternoon with a glass of wine, as one does when in Wine Country. There is a farmstall attached to the coffee shop where you can buy locally farmed cheeses, preserves, and jams.
Once you pass through the official checkpoint at the De Hoop Nature Reserve, you start making your way down to the main property, a short and tarred road, lends itself to views of white sand dunes laid against turquoise backdrops of the ocean. Fynbos lines the road to your left and right, with the odd pink protea catching your eye. As you near the main property and homesteads, the wildlife becomes denser.
Ostriches huddle together as they peck at the grass and shake off the wind, wild buck observe you cautiously, to see if you are going to disturb their eating schedule, and Guinea Fowl flutter about the road, running back and forth comedically. Before you know it, you are parking your car and walking into reception.
After an easy, friendly and informative welcome from the staff at De Hoop, we moved into our allocated rooms. Split between the Cloete Suites and the Opstal Manor House we settled in our rooms, and took time to recharge our batteries. One of the first things I do when staying somewhere is to make myself at home. I hang up my scarves, unpack my bags and set up chargers, and toiletries. I must feel comfortable in my space.
My Cloete Suite had lots of natural light, drifting into it. A bookshelf, which was a really lovely and rare treat. A complimentary mini-fridge, and a tea and coffee station. There was even a small seating area both in the room and outside at the front of the cottage,
which was both great for reading during the day and evening. My room was equipped with an electric blanket, a heater, and a beautifully draped mosquito net, over the bed. Not that there were any of the latter, but I let the drapes down none the less. It made me feel like a princess, laying in her castle at night.
The highlight of my room, however, was the bathroom. Not only was the shower big enough for two, if you’re on a romantic holiday, but the lighting and mirrors in the bathroom were amazing. I am not usually one to fuss about mirrors and lighting, but these were done so well, it made one appreciate the space and utilize it to its full extent. And then, well then there is the bath. A deep, large and luxurious bath filled the room. After making sure I wasn’t in a drought-stricken area and that the property was
using their own water sources, I was able to take a lovely long hot bath that evening. Instead of bubbles, there were bath salts provided, which I actually prefer.
There are various accommodation choices at The De Hoop Collection. Whether you are traveling with a partner, best friend, family or group of people. The next time I visit I would love to try the Opstal Vlei Cottages, which are thatched houses, equipped with 2 bedrooms, a fireplace, kitchen, and are close to all the facilities on the property. I would love to take a road trip with friends the next time I visit, and be able to cook together in the evenings, have a bonfire and nightcaps while stargazing.
The De Hoop Collection is a nature lovers paradise. The birdlife alone is something to see, and when you start exploring the property, you will discover there is far more to it than the eye can see.
Firstly, when it comes to Bird Watching you are spoilt for choice. The avid bird guru in our group, Thea Beckman, noted down every bird species we saw during our stay. Now before I tell you what we saw, take note that we were not even a group of active bird watchers, can you imagine what we would have seen if we were.
During our 4 days stay on the property, Thea spotted eighty-three species. A few of those highlights include the Jackal Buzzard – which we actually managed to see, with its prey. Further, we spotted the Malachite Sunbird, Spur-wing Goose, Red Bishop, Spotted Eagle Owl, Lesser Flamingo, Fish Eagle, and the Cape Griffon Vulture.
Keeping with the birdlife theme, we took one of the Guided Eco Boat Trips on the Ramsar listed Vlei. A sunset cruise, paired with champagne, canapes, great company, and guides who engaged with us and tested us on our wildlife knowledge.
During our cruise, we saw the Cape Mountain Zebra which is shorter, browner and furrier than I am used to, coming from Kwa Zulu Natal. We also learned that the famed Hamerkop Bird is a messy nester, from the Vlei we easily spotted a Hamerkop nest, nestled between two tree branches, it hung, seemingly oversized for a bird of such size. I would have expected a Martial Eagle (my favorite bird of prey) to find the nest, “spacious” in design.
If you are not really into bird watching but love getting into nature, then I would suggest taking the Guided Interpretive Marine Walk, with the De Hoop Guide at Koppie Alleen. We did, and from several viewpoints, we watched the record number of Southern-right Whales, play in the ocean. I had been looking forward to seeing the whales this year.
Not only have I not seen any whales for many years, but I knew that this year was record-breaking and memorable one on the De Hoop Coastline. At final count in the first week of September this year, 1,347 whales were noted, this is almost triple the number of whales seen at the same time in 2017. It is almost as though they know its a protected area and that they’re safe there.
After viewing the amazing marine life, we all got stuck into a lovely selection of cheeses from the local surrounding estates, figs, yogurts, and fresh fruit. I could honestly eat the same, every day and never get tired. We even popped into a cheese estate (Stone House) on our way back to Cape Town and brought more cheese.
After viewing the coastline and taking one of the Guided Interpretive Marine Walks, you can choose to drive back to your accommodation or walk back along the cycling route. Our host, Theresa and some of the ladies in our group did just that, while the rest of us, headed back to our rooms for some downtime, as we read, worked and enjoyed the environment we were in.
The De Hoop Collection, also features tennis courts, 2 swimming pools, one of which looks over the Vlei. Sunsets during the winter were mind-blowing, I can only imagine, sundowners around the pool in Summer. And if you like spending your afternoons, being pampered then the onsite Spa is worth looking into.
I had a one-hour full body massage, that loosened up all the tense muscles, put my mind at ease and had me walking on clouds, for the rest of the day. As a writer and traveler, my lower back, ankles, and neck give me the most problems, having these areas worked on, most certainly made one of my highlights of my De Hoop Stay.
While there are more than adequate self-catering facilities on the property and in the various accommodations, cooking was the last thing I wanted to do on this girl’s trip. When the company is as good as it was in our group and the conversation flows, no one wants to be distracted by cooking.
Every morning we were treated to a wonderful buffet, and hot meals in the new restaurant venue, The Shed. The buffet was a weak point of mine every morning, locally made cheeses, fig preserve, various cold meats, hot and fluffy croissants, ensured that I had a filling meal every morning. I should say something wise about overindulging here, but I’m not going to, it was such a wonderful feeling waking up in my warm bed every morning, knowing that after a quick hot shower, and dress, a wonderful
spread awaited me.
Lunches were mainly experienced in the form of picnics, brunches, and or light meals, while we chatted, napped and or worked. I know, who works when they are in paradise? Well, strangely enough, the environment, actually made it the ideal place to catch up.
With Wifi access in the main lounge, a roaring wood fire, and a couple Irish coffees, in hand, we literally leaned into the comfortable sofas and typed away on our laptops. The main lounge area in The Shed is a friendly and open space, guests are within
reach of each other but not disturbing each other, it was a very comfortable setting to be in.
I further need to note that our picnics hampers contained no plastic. Everything was either in glass jars or made from recycling, reusable or sustainable materials. Well Done, De Hoop. And with the EXTENSIVE brand new Wine Cellar, literally a door away from the sofas, we were treated to trying some of the best wines in the Cape Winelands.
Thea was trusted every evening to choose our wines, of which I enjoyed most, was the range from Creation Wines. I found every Creation Wine we tried, to be easy drinking, smooth on the palate and yet diverse and unique in its own statue.
Our meals each evening were beautifully presented and the staff was very accommodating. One evening when we didn’t really want to move away from our comfy chairs, by the fire. They set up our plates and cutlery on the table between us and happily left us to our conversations. Which may I add was another highlight of my trip? Putting 6 very different, diverse and entrepreneurial women in one group for 4 days, was always going to result in some comedic results.
We shared stories of how we had each come to work in the industry and businesses we are in. We shared stories of things and people that inspire us, we shared some naughtier stories, that I won’t tell you about because one, people blush easily and two, those are my memories to keep and privately giggle at, each time I see a “post-it” note on a mirror.
I will note, and maybe it was just the meals I choose, but my dessert each evening was absolutely fantastic. And I mention this because I don’t exactly have the sweetest tooth in the world. In fact, I much rather dig into savory treats, than sweet ones. I recently horrified my cousins in the Cape, whom I visited as well, by stating that I don’t really like chocolate. There was a moment, where I thought I may be disowned by the family. None the less, if I was, I could always go and stay at De Hoop because they know how to do dessert, that I approve of. The deserts I had were all, incredibly full of flavor and taste, not just sugar and that’s what made the difference.
What better way to end an evening than with a
wonderfully balanced dessert and a hot chocolate or red wine.
Should you stay at De Hoop Collection? In my opinion, yes, you should. You should go with friends, or family or with your partner and go get yourselves lost in nature. Book a few activities, learn how to stargaze, eat outside, leave your laptop in your room and go for a message. And if you can wake up early and go spot the owls. They really are something.
Besides the highlights I have already mentioned, I also fell head over heels, with the Old Cape Dutch architecture. It truly is something to see, these white-walled houses, that sit starkly and yet perfectly against the green and blue landscapes.
I felt incredibly welcomed and taken care of by the staff on site. Everyone had a good morning, afternoon and evening for you if you passed them or interacted with them. If you needed anything, it was as simple as asking and the team would do their best to assist you.
And most of all, De Hoop is so much more, than you can imagine. You can get an “idea” of what your stay will be like, or your accommodation will feel like or the quality standards of the food, from the website. Yet it is not until you set foot on the property, that you realize, just how amazing it is.
We were also lucky enough to meet and even share a meal with the owner William Stephens before we left. Whom I found to be a very interesting individual. I imagine William is one of those people you could sit with for a few minutes and end up spending half the day with, hearing stories of all his adventures and experiences he has had in life. I am not surprised the De Hoop Collection is such a beautifully serene and loving environment to be in.
Love to all the lovely ladies we had in our group, Theresa, Thea, Rene, Mantombi, and Zainab. I can’t wait to go on many more adventures with you. There is so much still to explore. And can you just imagine, a birthday weekend at De Hoop, now that sounds like a plan to me…..
You can contact De Hoop by visiting their website here – www.dehoopcollection.com
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