De Hoop Trail

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Few places in the world can offer the breath taking diversity and stunning natural beauty of De Hoop, the Jewel of the Cape. Nature lovers can experience this pristine environment up close by walking the De Hoop Trail, a stimulating exploration of both the De Hoop Vlei and the magnificent De Hoop Coastal Reserve.

This fully catered luxury trail runs over three nights, with two full days spent walking, at your own pace, with a well- informed, interpretive guide.  The trail is fully catered with fine cuisine that is quite unexpected on a walking trip and accommodation is luxurious.

The De Hoop Reserve   De Hoop represents a treasure-chest of natural and cultural assets. The diversity of 1 500 plant species is amongst the highest in the Cape Floristic Region, with a large percentage of rare, threatened and endemic species. The discerning visitor is privileged to walk amongst pristine fynbos vegetation and view the flowering plants at close quarters. The invertebrate animal wealth is equally diverse. A safe refuge is provided for rare mammals such as the Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra, smaller predators and various bat species, the latter in a large breeding cave. These limestone cave systems are unique and preserved in a pristine condition. The De Hoop Marine Reserve -the second largest marine reserve in Southern Africa after the St.Lucia estuary – is one of the world’s most important calving grounds for the southern right whale and an important nursery area for depleted angling fish species. From a cultural-historical perspective, visitors experience a bygone era. De Hoop houses undisturbed archaeological sites. The historical homesteads at De Hoop, Melkkamer and Potberg are well-preserved architectural examples and many of the previous landowners maintain life-long sentimental ties with the reserve. The De Hoop Nature Reserve has a diversity of values for people, from practical to aesthetic, from watershed protection to spiritual inspiration. It is a magnificent outdoor classroom, offering diverse and fascinating walking opportunities for visitors.   The Trail Area:   The De Hoop Vlei is 19km long and is a highly productive ecosystem; a Ramsar site of international ecological importance where aquatic birds and other organisms breed and feed undisturbed. Many of the 260 bird species which occur at De Hoop can be seen here. In times of flood, the vlei supports up to 30 000 birds (97 water bird species), including threatened and near-threatened species such as Lesser- and Greater Flamingo, White Pelican, Chestnut-banded Plover and Caspian Tern. It is the only locality in South Africa where Greater Flamingo has bred successfully in the past. (1960 and 1963)  The vlei boasts several pairs of African fish eagles. Their high-pitched call, the voice of Africa, contributes to the wild charm of the area. The area is a safe shelter for twelve waterfowl species during the dry summer months. As many as 13 species of migrant waders including curlew sandpipers, ruffs, little stints, whiskered and white winged terns visit the vlei in summer, when the water level drops and the mud flats are exposed. There is always great excitement amongst guests when the socially reticent Cape Clawless otter – of which there are many around the vlei – makes its appearance to patient visitors.  While you wait, baboons, eland and wildebeest may well wander up to greet you. With no hunting allowed in the reserve, the animals have settled into an easy and trusted relationship with their human visitors.   Accommodation:     Situated on the western bank of the De Hoop vlei is a coveted private area known as the Melkkamer (The Milk Room or Milking House) originally the centre of the farm, ‘The Hope’.  This is where you will be housed for the duration of the trail. The authentically restored Melkkamer homestead was built in 1907 and restored in 2010. It is the epitome of stylish elegance, with tall chimneys, spacious wrap around verandas, high pressed ceilings and stylishly appointed bathrooms in which you will be happy to relax after your day’s walk. Four stylish and spacious en suite rooms occasionally make the visitor hard pressed to up and leave for the day’s exploration.  When required the restored Foreman’s or Vlei cottage will accommodate additional guests.  Electricity is in the form of a generator for lighting purposes – kerosene lanterns are also provided.   Catering:   The trail provides wholesome and elegant meals, freshly prepared by our resident Chef.     Trail must-knows:   A maximum of twelve people aged 12 and older may participate. Younger children will be accommodated by prior arrangement if the entire trail is booked by a single group. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the walk can be long and sometimes uneven, especially on the coastal rocks. However the walking pace is leisurely and focuses on being an interpretive experience of the natural environment. The general rules and regulations of Cape Nature and De Hoop Nature Reserve will apply and indemnity documents will be completed before participating.   The trail incorporates birding, game viewing, the fynbos and marine experiences.The trail begins on either a Friday afternoon to a Monday morning or a Monday Afternoon to a Thursday morning. It is a three night, catered, luxury trail with two full days spent walking with your guide.   Daily Itinerary Day 1     Guests arrive and check-in at the reception of the main De Hoop Opstal area at 14h00, where the group will be met by their personal trail guide. Vehicles are left here in a designated parking area and guests are transferred by boat/open vehicle (weather permitting) across the vlei to the Melkkamer Manor house. Guests arrive at the Manor house mid-afternoon and after settling in and having time to do a personal ‘reccie’ (exploration) of their home for the next few days, are treated to sundown drinks and canapés, where they get more information about the next two day’s activities and about the Melkkamer area and history. The rest of the afternoon is spent at leisure. After a sumptuous evening meal, served either around the fire under the giant Milkwood tree, under the stars, or in the stately dining room, guests will have the opportunity to sit around the fire and socialise or partake in an informal guided interpretive star gazing activity.   Day 2      The morning begins with an early wake-up call before sunrise with a cup of coffee, tea, rusks or freshly squeezed orange juice. Fruit and cereals will be served before the mornings’ walk along the vlei shore. The De Hoop guide will share his/her knowledge of  local customs and history, the myriad creatures seen on the walk and the biodiversity of the area.  Brunch is served al fresco, at a meeting point en route. Usually, the afternoon activity is a short walk departing after the heat of the day and returning before sunset for drinks, dinner and an evening of shared stories, laughter and games or a good book.   Day 3        The third day begins with a cup of coffee, tea, or fresh juice at a later hour than day two. A light breakfast is served and then guests are driven in an open vehicle to observe game as they head for the magnificent beach at Koppie Alleen.  Here the group walks along the undeveloped and pristine coast and will experience the protected marine life in the rock pools beside the signature white sand dunes. Dolphin and Whale sightings are an oceanic highlight in season, while multi-coloured sea anemones and starfish delight in the shallower pools. There is time for some tanning and a swim on hot days, when the tide is in.Individual picnic lunch packs will be provided for the day’s coastal adventure.  Guests are driven back to the Melkkamer Manor accommodation after lunch, where traditional high tea is served in the afternoon, with the rest of the afternoon spent at leisure – either relaxing or taking a shorter stroll along the edge of the vlei for more bird watching – before the evening’s culinary experience.   Day 4   On the fourth morning, we offer guest the choice of relaxation around the Manor area or early game viewing and bird watching on the vlei before breakfast. At approximately 10h30, guests will be transferred by boat or vehicle back to reception for check out and departure.   What to bring:

  • Neutral coloured clothing according to season including light, comfortable walking gear.
  • A sun hat
  • Rain jacket
  • Swimming towel or sarong
  • A tracksuit or warm jacket is recommended in summer and winter months.
  • Comfortable walking shoes preferably with thick soles and ankle support.
  • Sandals with rubber soles are useful on the coast.

The trail provides all bedding, linen and towels.   Optional:

  • Camera
  • Reference books
  • Binoculars
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Insect repellent
  • Walking sticks
  • A good flash light ( torch)

Rates:

R5 500 pp sharing  De Hoop Collection Terms and booking conditions apply. Rates include accommodation, internal reserve transfers, all scheduled meals, hot/cold teas, bottled water, coffees and juices. Rate excludes cool drinks and alcoholic beverages. A bar is provided with soft drinks, beers and local wines (Excluded from the rate). Arrangements are to be made on reservation for any special dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarians).  We will be happy to accommodate you.     Reservations: www.dehoopcollection.com res@dehoopcollection.com Call 0861 De Hoop Mobile:  +27 (0) 86 133 4667 Landline: +27 (0)21 422 4522

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