Step back in time at unspoilt De Hoop gem

Travel back in time with a peaceful stay at Melkamer Manor House, built of sandstone in 1907
OLD LADY: Travel back in time with a peaceful stay at Melkamer Manor House, built of sandstone in 1907
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

No television, no music and little contact with the outside world.

Actually, this was the best bit of my stay at the De Hoop Collection.

Reading and listening to the birds sing was what one could call total relaxation.

A game farm experience at the sea, with the peace and tranquillity that De Hoop Collection comes with, is a feeling so surreal.

The remote and unique location bordering the wild southern coast is home to a diversity of 1,500 plant species, 260 bird species and is a safe refuge for rare mammals such as the bontebok and Cape mountain zebra.

The 50km gravel road after you leave Bredasdorp does not prepare one for the luxurious stay that awaits.

I was soon to learn that the bumpy gravel road was worth it.

We arrived at the Opstal area at De Hoop and experienced first-class treatment.

The staff had welcome drinks prepared for us, the best ginger ale I’ve ever tasted.

Everyone was so welcoming, it was as if they knew us from a previous life.

We waited eagerly to be taken to our accommodation as we signed our indemnity forms, because the fun was about to get real.

Bontebok are some of the wildlife that abound at unspoilt De Hoop
NATURAL PARADISE: Bontebok are some of the wildlife that abound at unspoilt De Hoop
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

We stayed at the Melkamer Manor House — this beautiful sandstone building has four magnificent bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, and is fully equipped for self-catering.  

To stay at a house that was built in 1907 came with a lot of stories — every room with its own.

Imagine finding out that all the material such as the veranda posts, fireplaces and cast iron gutters were brought into Melkamer by ox wagon.

Melkamer is a 40-minute drive from the Opstal reception area.

Enjoying a relaxed evening in the Melkamer Manor House lounge
COSY ATMOSPHERE: Enjoying a relaxed evening in the Melkamer Manor House lounge
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

There is no electricity and the house has gas-powered appliances, with candlelight and lanterns adding to the charm of this unique area.

There is a generator though that ensures there is always hot water for leisurely long baths.

Such a great place for meditation and reflection.

The brilliant night sky was like nothing I had ever seen, as we sat outside on the veranda, chatting away and excited about experiencing all that De Hoop had to offer, while enjoying our starters as one of the chefs prepared our dinner.

The food was excellent — no meal was the same.

Every evening I thought “wow that was one of the best meals I’ve ever had,” and the next evening I would be more blown away about the thought that went into every meal we enjoyed.

If I had to pick my favourite of all the meals, it would have to be our dinner at the Melkamer House kitchen.

The setting was so perfect, warm and cosy, and I got lost in the moment, not wanting it to end.

William Stephens, the owner, came to visit us that evening to share a meal with us, such a lovely man with wonderful stories.

Eager to get to the top of Potberg Mountain to reach the Vulture Deck
GOING UP: Eager to get to the top of Potberg Mountain to reach the Vulture Deck
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

The activities on offer at De Hoop are diverse and we chose ones that allowed us to experience quite a bit of the nature reserve in the few days we were there.

We started of with the Vulture Experience — an adventure out to the cliffs of Potberg Mountain to view the endangered Cape vultures, the Western Cape’s last surviving colony of these birds.

Once we arrived at Potberg with our guide, Roelof De Beer, things got very interesting.

We had to hike for an hour to get to the Vulture Deck — going down a mountain I have no problem with, but going up was an experience indeed.

Watching the vultures fly above our heads from the Vulture Deck
WORTH IT: Watching the vultures fly above our heads from the Vulture Deck
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

We finally reached the Vulture Deck and every inch of my body felt that climb, but at that moment no feeling was greater than seeing the endangered Cape vultures up close and personal, flying just over our heads, diving and circling in the sky.

Everything about De Hoop is peaceful, and this was no different.

We then made our way back to the Opstal area, with Roelof taking us on a scenic drive through endangered fynbos, where we spotted plenty of baboons and different species of birds along the way.

When we arrived at Opstal, we were ready for our next activity — the Eco Boat Cruise — to explore the vlei and enjoy the birdlife.

Flamingos fly by during our Eco Boat Cruise
BEAUTIFUL SIGHT: Flamingos fly by during our Eco Boat Cruise
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

When on the boat, we met our guide, Dillon Visagie, who had us all  captivated as he told us about the different species of birds found in the vlei.

Next up was an informative marine walk, which I enjoyed most —  not even the rain could curb our excitement.

Our qualified guide kept us intrigued with his knowledge and passion for marine life, and I discovered species I never knew existed.

It was my first visit to beautiful De Hoop, but it certainly won’t be my last. .

Leaving feeling more at peace in my soul, our visit also opened my eyes to so many beautiful things that nature has to offer.

If you are looking for adventure, peace and tranquillity, De Hoop is for you.

Annelisa Swana was hosted by De Hoop Collection:

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