Safari companies, lodge owners and guests alike are beginning to identify a new definition of what ‘luxury’ has come to mean in this hyper-digitized, constantly accelerating world. However, for as long as we’ve been involved with Natural Selection, their emphasis has always been on experiences – as opposed to the cliché of mega-luxury. Nestled in the most remote, untouched corners of Africa, their camps and lodges have a feather-light environmental footprint, having been thoughtfully designed to be ultra-comfortable and, most especially, make the most of the wild wraparound beauty. The guest experience is all about the wildlife, the wilderness, the guides, the stories and — very importantly, the opportunity to detach from the perpetual pressures and supersonic speed of modern life.
We’ve tried to define this new evolution of ‘luxury’ as remoteness – and Lekkerwater Beach Lodge at De Hoop has it in spades! This winter, Liesl and I were invited to test the recently opened lodge over a two-night stay we wish could have been longer.
Here’s our photo diary!
Getting there? An expedition!
The adventure of a drive down to just beyond the Southern Tip of Africa took about three and a half hours. Once inside De Hoop reserve, we were picked up from the designated meeting place by our hosts, traversing the rugged terrain in powerful 4×4’s through untamed thickets of fragrant fynbos and finally winding our way down to the coastal plain. (To give you a scene of the astounding vastness and scale of the area, see if you can spot the 4×4!)
Almost impossible to see from a distance, the low-level, coastal coloured lodge blends beautifully and undistractingly into its surroundings, thanks to its respectful design ethos.
Rooms with views that never end
All of the 6 twin/double rooms and one family unit have views that are absolutely breathtaking – and where you’ll literally have ‘a whale of time’ spotting playful pods of dolphins and Southern Right whales!
The echoing waves you can hear from your room lull your heart to sync with the heartbeat of the ocean, with views inspiring you to let yourself go in the wild endlessness of the view. You find yourself breathing deeply – and smiling luxuriously.
There is just so much space for serenity… to contemplate, meditate, read, sleep. (But if checking your emails gives you peace of mind, Wifi is available in all the rooms.) Lekkerwater is especially ‘lekker’ (an untranslatable South Africanism meaning ‘deliciously enjoyable’) for families with children above the age of 6!
Another layer in Lekkerwater’s luxury of remoteness, reserved for those who dare to venture this far off the grid, is the almost childlike enchantment we experienced upon exploring the rich history of the area. Stories and whole entire histories have come into being here, whether it’s that of heroic human beings – like the worldwide announcement of Nelson Mandela’s liberation from Robben Island – or of humanity itself, where groundbreaking archaeological discoveries in the nearby Blombos and Klipdrift caves speak of the earliest humans. There are so many stories to be shared here… and it is a place where you will be inspired to spin your own.
Beauty & the Beach
Pure and pristine. Prolific. Beyond pretty! And just one more ‘P’: because the area is protected! Life in the ocean and the spectacular rock pools is a treasure trove. As one of the world’s most lauded land-based locations for whale-watching, Lekkerwater is also home to pods and pods of play-loving dolphins. Inbetween their daring dives and somersaults, rock-pooling will distract you away into an aquamarine fantasy of miraculous little creatures and wonder-worthy micro-discoveries — which are, thankfully, brilliantly illuminated by Lekkerwater’s resident marine biologist who will weave the feeding, mating and survival habits of the teeniest-tiniest seashore creatures into the most fascinating science stories, whether you’re 6 or 66.
A botanist’s paradise
And as for the botany? Breathtaking! The uniqueness of the area’s endemic coastal fynbos is very special indeed. Guided walks with a fynbos expert will reveal a wealth of fascinating rare plant species. It’s a part of the world where you need to walk slowly and be prepared to crouch down low to admire the colours and delicacy of the tiniest flowers.
Some of the fynbos that we encountered on our walk
Perhaps the most marvellous surprise of all for us was receiving this photo from a recent Lekkerwater guest. A Cape Mountain Leopard, shy and nocturnal, had walked the very same shoreline we had. An unforgettable reminder for us to always tread lightly upon the earth…