Reviews of De Hoop Opstal
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Well worth the detour to De Hoop.
We loved being so close to the eland, other animals and birds. The marine walk/rock pool guided walk was particularly good - thanks, Louis. The star gazing session didn't quite live up to expectations but it was a good idea and we enjoyed an early morning walk, led by Hannah, to see the birds and walk around the Vlei.
Registration for accommodation takes place in shop where everything else is booked for all visitors to the Nature Reserve.
Chairs in dining room are ready for replacement - fine if you managed to get one with a seat intact or enough cushions for it not to matter. Good selection of wines.
a unique location
We did not like the journey here because the hire car was not fit for purpose for the roads. A truly horrible experience driving from Swellendam to De Hoop.
However, once at De Hoop we appreciated its unique location although the rooms could do with an upgrade.
Our main criticism here is of Expert Africa's itinerary. This said we were self catering but when we got to De Hoop we were told that we were booked on a half board basis. Given that De Hoop is in the middle of nowhere and we were staying there for Christmas we had stocked up in Swellendam. Most of the food we bought went to waste so we are not happy about the expenditure we have incurred as this could have been avoided.
Nature at its best
We are giving De Hoop Opstal 'good' rather than 'excellent' principally because on arrival there we were told that our top end accommodation was still undergoing refurbishment and that we had therefore be reallocated to a bungalow some 800 metres from the main lodge area. To be fair, our accommodation was still good; and the staff in situ looked after us extremely well (including compensating us by not charging for what would otherwise have been 'pay for' activities) - hence why we have given 'excellent' for service despite the room glitch. Nevertheless, it is still disappointing that the back office/booking people made no effort to contact us beforehand when they must have known full well that our booked accommodation was not going to be available.
All this being said, we would still recommend De Hoop Opstal simply because of the wonderful opportunity it offers to get close to the Fynbos and some of its wildlife. Admittedly, the mammals may be a little too habituated for the taste of some; but we personally found it refreshing to be able to observe for lengthy periods the front end of zebras (Cape Mountain) and eland in particular! And the birdlife is excellent - we counted off 75 species in our three days including Denham's Bustard, Cape Vultures and Blue Cranes - reflecting the range of habitats in the immediate locale.
All the activities we did were well-organised and well run, with first rate guiding. We were particularly impressed by the marine walk with shark expert, Hannah, which opened up what was a completely new aspect of Africa's wildlife to us.
Remote and beautiful
De hoop is forty miles from a main road, but well worth the journey. The accommodation is set in a grassy stretch with Zebra, Eland and Bontebok grazing all around. The feel of Opstal is a bit homely compared to other places, but it is a nice feeling and it was comfortable and peaceful. The staff were helpful, the restaurant was busy, but relaxed and pretty efficient. Our room in the manor was large, airy and simply and attractively furnished (of the period)(It dates back to the early settlers).
We enjoyed a drive to Kopje Allen with its magnificent dunes and a lovely beach from where we watched whales at close quarter.
6 a.m bird watching with Patrick was worthwhile and he's certainly at the twitcher end of the scale, with a good knowledge of other fauna to boot. A boat trip on the vlei was very good too but the wildlife is subject to the wind - of which there's plenty.
Out of the way place
Good self-catering accommodation although we chose to eat in the restaurant.
With three bedrooms per unit a second bathroom would have been useful. The children appreciated the freedom to move among (non-predatory) animals, the sand dunes and the beach.
An out of the way place which deserves to be better known, although that would spoil it!
Tranquil stay at relaxing De Hoop
Nice cottages, very relaxed and tranquil place, supprisingly good food, stunning coats, Kids loved itRead more about the whole trip
De Hoop Opstal review
Our arrival was badly handled in contrast to the efficient warm welcome that we'd enjoyed at our previous stops.
No one bothered with us much, only one intern and another girl who seemed rather hostile were on duty and they didn't take any notice of us for a while. Finally we were shown our room, there was a fuss over lost keys and we found that a group of German tourists were using our room as a way to their car! We had to chuck them out and establish ownership! having done that, we were fine.
We enjoyed the walks and the beach, got up early and had lots of exercise. We are quite happy on our own but this is probably not the place for people who want more guidance. No one suggested anything, we just followed their map. Food was adequate and quite hearty but they obviously had a problem with fresh fruit and veg.
I would caution anyone going to take masses of sunscreen and a hat as De Hoop is VERY exposed at this time of the year. We were well equipped but you could get badly burned as the light is very bright and the Vlei and beach super exposed. In all we enjoyed De Hoop but were glad that we had some luxury worked into our trip too!
Expert Africa comments
De Hoop were very sorry to hear about the lack of professional service on arrival and were grateful for the feedback. They had a temporary team in over December who were clearly lacking, however there is now a new team in place at reception.
De Hoop Opstal review
Only worth a 2 night stay as once you've done the river walk and seen the beach (beautiful) there is not much else to do and you are 1 hour down a dirt road. Seeing Whales from the beach was a highlight.
The restaurant burnt down a few months ago and both myself and my wife got gastroenteritis form their efforts - I would not return until this is sorted out.
Our accommodation was very basic - the worst of our visit - there were higher standard units available and these should be offered instead - Village rooms were also a mile from the restaurant and you were clpse to the staff quarters.
Great wildlife at De Hoop Opstal
The best wildlife viewing, especially birds, we experienced outside of a game park. Walking good although not many tracks.
Accommodation in our cottage (a Vlei Cottage) had a very rural feel to it, was private and was ideally positioned just above the blocked river estuary.
Very isolated and not much to do if weather not good, but it is well worth accepting that risk.
Quality of food and service in the on site restaurant was very good but service could be slow if they were busy.
Could not bear to leave De Hoop Opstal
Possibly one of the most incredible places I've ever been. Amazing sand dunes, complete peace, brilliant staff. Couldn't tear my eyes away from the sea when we had to leave, didn't know we could just hang out as a family watching the water for whales.
I have no complaints but wish Id known: that you can have brekkie, lunch and dinner in the restaurant. I wouldn't have bothered with self catering for such a short time (3 nights) if we'd known this. The only other small thing was no cot for the infant. It didn't bother us but might be a problem for other travellers with a baby - good to flag up in advance. We also arrived very late and the gates were open but reception closed immediately after checking us in and we didn't realise until we'd seen our accommodation that we needed wood for heating. By which time it was too late to pick any wood up - just advance info about this would have been great.
The available activities were not so good for our age ranges (two adults, a 3 year old and 1 year old) - we couldn't do any walks (too long for the 3 year old who won't be confined) and there were no child seats/trailers for the mountain bikes and they are obviously too young for the quad bikes. We just about managed some bird watching without too much whinging and we were very happy just hanging out on the dunes and paddling for the two days that we had but again its just things you might want to advise any travellers with young children. Might also have been good to know in advance that once we were there it was still quite a journey down to the beach from our accommodation.
Just a note on self catering options that we used as well - I wish I'd been advised that there would be a braai everywhere. I'm so used to 'no fires' and 'no BBQs' locations here that I'd forgotten the South African love of cooking outdoors. Easiest thing in the world when you are self catering to just pick up some meat and get the fire on.
Expert Africa comments
We often have numerous, quite lengthy, discussions with our travellers and as such there is a lot of information to absorb. We do mention, as a matter of course, that although the rooms are self-catering you can eat all meals in the restaurant on site. We are sorry if this was not made clear to these travellers. We have also taken note to specifically mention the BBQ facilities in our chats.