De Hoop, Garden RouteWindswept De Hoop Nature Reserve is a place for rugged types who like the smaller aspects of form of nature, rather than big five thrills.
It’s perfect for bracing walks through the fynbos or on the beach, watching out for the whales or whizzing about on quad bikes past bontebok and kudo and spotting baboons cavorting in the distance.
De Hoop can accommodate 186 people, but the lodges and chalets are scattered far and wide so it never feels crowded.
The main building is The Opstall, housing the reception, a bar and restaurant and a lounge, all painted in dusky pink with high ceilings and wooden floors.
My group stayed in the Melkkamer, a sturdy 1907 mansion with four bedrooms. Power is supplied by a generator that runs from 6pm to 10pm, but we were so engrossed in a ferocious game of 30 Seconds one night that they left the lights until 11pm.
My room had a vast bed, a desk, a shower and a stand-alone bath, with gas-heated hot water on tap. Some cottages have no electricity at all, with hardy guests claiming that makes for a lovely romantic weekend of log fires and early nights.
Supper began with wine and canapés on the patio. We asked if we could eat in the kitchen, warm from the log fire and smelling delicious. My kingklip with cape gooseberries on a bed of mash was beautiful, followed by a generous chunk of hot baked sponge pudding and custard.
De Hoop has a less developed, more pristine atmosphere than many reserves, and with no dangerous predators you can hike or bike off to admire the vlei dotted with pink flamingo or the fynbos that you’re bouncing through.
The drive from Cape Town takes about three hours, or four if you make a point of enjoying the scenery. Which you really must, since you’re going to a nature reserve to do precisely that.
De Hoop offers camping sites, self-catering chalets or fully catered luxury lodges. You can cook for yourself, eat in the restaurant or arrange for a cook to prepare your meals.
Details from www.dehoopcollection.com