Reviews of De Hoop Opstal
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Pitty it is not finished
The potential is excellent, but unfortunately we were not told that De Hoop is still undergoing reconstruction. Throughout our stay the room next to ours was being completely remodelled by a construction crew: a wall being partly demolished to insert windows and a door, another open entrance being bricked up. So constant banging and crashing and sawing and workmen's chatter during the day - which was also adjacent to the pool area and spa.
Of course we spent most of the day out in the reserve, so we put up with it rather than requesting a move - and our room (the Dassie Suite) was lovely with a fine view over the lagoon.
The food is of a high standard, although the service struggles a bit to keep up with the numbers. and on our last night the restaurant was overbooked and despite being on half board our table had been given to someone else.
We enjoyed the walks by the lagoon (but a clear map would have been helpful) and did see whales! Eland, bontebok, zebra and ostrich wander freely around the homestead complex; a bit special.
De Hoop Opstal review
An unexpected delight! We didn’t know quite what to expect of this place but we loved it – perhaps because we had the best room there (Vlei Suite). The room was lovely; although there was no air con or fan the sheer thickness of the walls kept it pleasantly cool. There had been some previous adverse feedback which made us concerned but we trusted Chris’s advice. Some others had commented on poor reception staff and the variable quality of other staff, opinions with which we concur. (see below)
Staff were generally pleasant and helpful, with two exceptions. Firstly the receptionist who insisted we had to eat at 9pm as dinner was served in two sittings; as we discovered it is actually FROM 7 to 9 not AT 7 or 9. Secondly the waitress who told us we could sit anywhere but, when we chose a table, told us we couldn’t sit there as it was a table for four. When we pointed out that they didn’t have any tables for two she seemed totally confused! She then insisted on presenting our bill before we were ready, ignoring the fact that another staff member was in the process of fixing drinks! The bill was then presented again before we had asked for it even though we hadn’t finished and had just ordered coffee. TIA (This Is Africa)! The manager then took care of us, and we spent some time with him over coffee talking about the history of the place and the plans for future development which was really interesting.
While our room was close to the main building some are quite a distance away (800m plus) and, whilst they have self-catering facilities it seemed as if most people wanted to eat in the restaurant which was quite a walk in the dark so a torch is a necessity.
The reserve is lovely with a variety of habitats, ranging from beaches and dunes to fynbos. The wildlife seems very calm; we have never seen so many eland – and so close to the roads; they didn’t seem bothered at all.
We took an afternoon boat trip which was good value and entertaining with good bird sightings and even a Cape Cobra sunning itself on a rock – as long as it stays on its rock we have no objection!
Great Experience at De Hoop
Lovely location with the Vlei and the dunes at the beach offering different and contrasting experiences. The marked walk along the Vlei was well marked with lots of birdlife including fish eagles and giant kingfishers. At the beach we saw a couple of schools of dolphins and enjoyed an excellent picnic lunch, provided in a cool bag with plates and cutlery. It was so generous that we finished it the following day.
The camp buildings are well spaced out so there's a wonderful feeling of space and privacy, although part of the reason for this is that we changed our room on check in. We had been booked in the manor House which we understood could sleep up to six people, but we were not expecting to share with anyone else and without separate locks on the bedroom doors. Fortunately Florence at reception was able to relocate us into a Vlei Cottage which was also very comfortable, more private and had a great view.
The food was good and Dickson, our waiter gave good and detailed recommendations on the best wine to accompany the meal.
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.