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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Hampton

De Mond Villa - De Hoop Nature Reserve

A golden sunset lights up the mustard hues of De Mond Villa's interiors, so I sat quietly steeped in this infusion of interior-exterior colours. My companion pointed out, "you match the decor!" and unwittingly I did. I just blended in and felt that I was in the right place at the right time.

On the site of the old mole-catcher’s cottage, standing alone on the edge of the vlei 8km from De Hoop's main farm buildings, De Mond Villa is an upmarket addition to De Hoop’s offering. I'm convinced it's haunted. No-one else heard the strange footsteps, music and chatting in the room above me, and my fellow house guests didn’t believe me. They observed that my room, adjacent to the main building, was single story. There couldn't have been anyone above me! They put my delusions down to the fine wines provided in the all-inclusive tariff. I know what I heard, but some say I protest too much!

In a ground breaking private/public partnership in 2007, visionary entrepreneur and charming larger-than-life character William Stephens, founded the De Hoop Collection inside this Cape Nature run reserve. He was given permission to take many of the dilapidated historic buildings and transform them into guest accommodation, reception rooms and a restaurant. De Mond Villa is the latest addition, with five bedrooms, all decorated by William's wife Nini. She adds her flair to the interiors and I spotted her use of iconic South Africa luxury brand Ardmore in the décor. Most often known for its outlandish ceramics, they translated their designs to the most gorgeous fabrics.

De Mond is the luxurious accommodation for the Vlei to Whales Trail and is the option for people like me, who crave the idea of camping, but would much rather sleep in a soft bed and have people bring me a G&T after a day's gentle walking. Spoiled - yes! The daily hikes take in every terrain in this fynbos and coastal reserve.

The wetlands are a dominant feature and it's the oldest Ramsar site in South Africa. But the endemic flora is one of 13 protected clusters in the Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site, and contains at least 34 plant species found nowhere else on earth. I always get the feeling that I’ve arrived somewhere very special, that seems different from other places and now I know why. UNESCO describes De Hoop as, “one of the world’s great centres of terrestrial biodiversity,” and “hottest hotspot” for the diversity of endemic and threatened plants.

It looks different too, scattered with indigenous animals like bontebok and sturdy mountain zebra, whose stripes don’t go all the way under the belly. It smells different too; earthy with a distinct saltiness as you reach the end of the dirt road, where the Indian Ocean grazes a 70km stretch of protected coastline.

And this stretch of Indian Ocean is one of the best places for land-based whale watching in the world. The ocean viewpoint Koppie Alleen, overlooks what is considered to be the most important southern right whale nursery on the South African coast. Marine conservation photographer Jean Tresfon, had the supreme view during an official aerial survey in the 2023 southern right whale breeding season. He commented, “There were so many whales that counting was an exercise in itself, and to complicate matters, an enormous pod of bottlenose dolphins chose that moment to charge through the nursery grounds and play with the whale calves! The final number was 472 whales (of which 236 were calves) in the bay at Koppie Alleen, and another 115 whales (57 calves) counted along the rest of the De Hoop coastline.”  

Read more about De Hoop Nature Reserve in my travel article here

Travel to De Hoop and choose from a whole bunch of accommodation.

Parting view from De Mond Villa....



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