Situated in the Overberg's De Hoop Nature Reserve about 3 hours outside of Cape Town, the luxurious De Hoop Collection is a buy 1-get-1000 deal.
Part of Cape Country Routes, it is known for its land-based whale watching in season. However, De Hoop Collection is a buffet of unlimited treats. It's sweet, salty, tart and more.
It has something for every palette and serves it to you on a silver platter. All you have to do is indulge in it.
So rich in biodiversity, it is home to rare species of fynbos, marine life and has an unspoiled 70km of coastline flanked by towering sand dunes.
This is nature porn at its best.
Head to the Karoo or Klein Karoo and you'll see flat, naked veld. Drive up the West Coast and fynbos and sand dunes meet you with its sharp contrasts in colour. Go to Hermanus for whale-watching and wine tasting in the Hemel-and-Aarde valley.
Or, just go to De Hoop where you'll find all of it in one place. And even a look at the extremely endangered Cape vultures seeking its next tasty rotting meal.
Driving into the De Hoop Nature Reserve you are confronted with Mother Nature. Here, the landscape changes rapidly.
Bontebok, eland, ostrich and the odd tortoise greet you along the way as you do the quick drive down to the De Hoop Collection sitting next to the protected wetlands and De Hoop vlei. A World Heritage Site, the wetlands stretch 19km across the reserve.
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The estate is dotted with white-washed cottages built in the old fisherman style, and massive wild fig tries tower above you as you roam the grounds.
Whether you stay in the luxe Manor House, or at a rondavel for two overlooking the vlei - there is a abundance of accommodation options at the De Hoop Collection at various prices.
Take the whole family, go on a chilled weekend away with friends or indulge in a romantic getaway and stay in one of the estate's luxe cottages.
See all options here.
Food and wine
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Simply exquisite. That sums up every single meal I had at De Hoop's newly relaunched restaurant, The Fig Tree at The Shed. Open to day and overnight visitors from 08h00-21h00 daily, it is cosy, slick in design and has every right to peacock its 6-star service (really, it's ridiculous how attentive the staff is).
The Fig Tree at The Shed has a fire place, so wine and conversation on the couches for hours is a literal hot spot, while sitting on the deck, taking in views of the De Hoop vlei in summer is a Midsummer Night's Dream of note.
Breakfast looks like a painting...
Indulge in both the buffet of croissants, fresh fruit, salmon, cold meats, cheese and salmon - while adding a hot breakfast is also an option.
The dinner menu changes daily, and features a 3-course meal for R325 (until September 2019). Seriously fit for the gods. Think succulent prawns, perfectly cooked ostrich and white chocolate crème brûlée.
Then there is the wine. Expect a beautifully curated selection of regional wines as well as a great choice of wines from the Swartland.
The Nature Reserve has no predators, except for Cape vultures; so going out there, be it walking or biking should be on your daily itinerary. (Especially after indulging in all that wine, cheese and meat at the restaurant!)
Mostly flat, the Nature Reserve also has a few hills waiting silently to be conquered. Challenge your fitness and go on a cycle offered by the Collection and head down one of the fynbos trails (some are up to 13km), and to the beach.
Located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Bredasdorp, De Hoop Nature Reserve is one of the Western Cape's most stunning and also largest nature sanctuaries.
Not only can you take in guided marine hikes, boat tours along the vlei (a Ramsar-recognised wetland area), hiking or biking along mountain- and fynbos trails, and seeing Southern Right whales up close during mating and birthing season. And now, you can even go on vulture hikes and viewing opportunities in the Potberg Mountains.
A steep hike up, you'll definitely feel it in your calve muscles the next day, it is so worth it. Both for the vultures and the views. Here the only colony of 300 endangered Cape vultures reside, who roost and nest in a deep gorge.
De Hoop Collection’s knowledgeable guides accompany groups of up to 10 guests to a well-appointed lookout point in the mountains.
(The path leading to the boat sitting on the vlei, ready to power up for a sunset-cruise.)
But there is even more. Take in a swim in the infinity pool overlooking the vlei, go pamper your sore muscles at the spa after a day of activities or treat yourself to a guided sunset-boat trip complemented by bubbles and biltong.
Despite the rapidly changing landscape, this is a place where you come back to yourself. Away from life's distractions, the immersion in nature allows you to indulge in being quiet. A simple need we so often disregard and delay.
So go out there and feed your need.
ALL PHOTOS: Marisa Crous
*Marisa Crous was hosted by De Hoop Collection for 3 nights.
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