Glory days at De Hoop

The Hush … some places have it, and others don’t. De Hoop Nature Reserve is of the former ilk, and rates as one of those wilderness areas where the headspace will come and find you. Windswept dunes, rollicking mountain biking tracks, cliff-top hiking trails, spreading trees rooted deep within the southern tip of Africa and, of course, a mesmerisingly blue swathe of shimmering sea. It is to the ocean that most visitors flock, in order to gape at gargantuan southern right whales breaching and crashing in the waves, which suits me fine and dandy. I like the whales, too, but the real treasures of this World Heritage site are secreted within less obvious spaces and places. Crested woodpeckers nest within hollowed-out branches of gnarled milkwood trees; industrious dung beetles get their shit together to roll it doggedly in great balls to wherever they keep their precious erm … shit; pelicans laboriously take to the air but then soar flamboyantly like great Lockheed giants upon the spiralling air currents; eland gather in great herds to go galumping across the monochromatic fynbos plains; and Cape clawless otters perform a mercurial aqua ballet upon the endless vlei. We decided to name the most inquisitive member of the clan Sir Digby Crabbalot The Third, and will be back to visit him. Within this wide-sky space, you will also find the Fig Tree Restaurant, and unlike most park eateries, this one is a culinary gem featuring fabulous food and superb wines. (The Lomond Syrah paired with their rare fillet of venison makes me salivate on my keyboard just thinking about it …) Worth a visit? Yes, but go for at least a week, and say Hello to Sir Digby for me.

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