De Hoop Nature Reserve, the jewel of the Overberg, is best known for its amazing land based whale watching, spectacular floral diversity and world class birding – but for thrill seekers the landscape is ideal for mountain biking. The De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience combines the hospitality of the De Hoop Collection with routes designed to provide challenging but not overly long days in the saddle – leaving you fresh enough post-stage to relax with your family.
We kick off the weekend with an optional social fun ride for our guests already there to loosen the legs and shake off the cobwebs ahead of the 8am start on the 19th. The Scramble takes you in a southerly direction towards the Melkkamer on the edge of the Vlei along the cliff to De Mond, before looping back to our starting point. We’re encouraging all riders to get up to De Hoop early on the Friday afternoon so that everyone can get to know each other a little better and start the weekend off with a bang. There’s no better way to do this than enjoying the sunset (and chilled glass of wine or Hey Joe beer) after a short ride through the picture-perfect De Hoop Reserve. A short shower afterwards; dinner is served; stories are shared, and new friends are made!
55 kilometres with 900 meters of climbing
We’ve spent the last few months with Johan Kriegler (W2W founder) and the Cape Trails team establishing a brand-spanking new track to the north of the Vlei, going all the way up to Buchu Camp, cutting out any need to ride on the main tar road. Once you reach the top of “FlatRock” single track, the burn in the legs quickly fades away as you take in the best views of the De Hoop Collection: To the South, a full view of the entire Vlei and towering sand dunes that roll towards the deep blue sea; to the East, unparalleled and unspoilt sunrises over the Potberg area; and to the West, across the historical Melkkamer and open flood plains that stretch as far as the eye can see towards Arniston and Struisbaai. Throw some of the plentiful local wildlife in there – including Eland, Bontebok, ostriches, zebras and too many bird species to mention – and you have the best recipe for resuscitating any tired legs on Stage 1!
62 kilometres with 750 meters of climbing
An all new stage which takes riders into the Eastern half of De Hoop Nature Reserve where whale watching opportunities reign supreme. The rugged jeep tracks to Vaalkrans have seldom been used, but what they lack in refinement they provide in exhilaration especially if you stop to take in the views.
The stage starts at the De Hoop Collection and heads out of the reserve over the Tar Flatty and the rolling hills of the limestone hard dunes. Once riders have descended into the farmlands the route veers right and passes Ouplaas before meandering along the banks of the Potberg River towards the day’s first Strava segment. Named Hansie and Grietjie, it is a singletrack climb followed by a singletrack descent through a blue gum forest. The day’s first water point follows at Potberg, 25 kilometers into the route – make sure to refill your bottles here as it could be a long stretch to water point two at Koppie Alleen.
Passing through the gates into the Eastern section of De Hoop Nature Reserve riders move into a region seldom visited by anyone; other than the hikers of the popular Whale Trail. Between kilometres 23 and 32 the route descends gradually, but that changes at the foot of Die Vaalkrans. The second Strava segment of the day comes on a longer climb, but the timed part is only 370 metres long and averages 16% in gradient. Once atop the climb the fun stars again with a rolling jeep track towards the ocean and the Vaalkrans house.
Take your time in the next part of the route, whale sightings are virtually guaranteed whenever you can see the ocean. This section is also deceptively difficult, though it does not feature any significant climbs. A few sandy patches lie in wait too, but take in the beauty of the fynbos rather than try to rush through them and it’s an experience rather than a race after all.
At Koppie Alleen, where water point two awaits, riders will join one of the main gravel roads of De Hoop Nature Reserve and the relatively smooth surface will make for easy going. With the imposing sand dunes to the left and the unspoilt coastal fynbos to the right it is not only an opportunity to clock off a few easier kilometres but also one of the most scenic sections of the route.
The final Strava segment of the day is a long one and comes at the turn-off from the gravel road onto jeep track. At 5.44 kilometres long it is the most significant distance wise of the event, but starting with a downhill drag and averaging -1% in gradient it shouldn’t be too difficult to post a fast time. The segment ends as you rejoin the gravel road and the flat run in to the finish provides game viewing opportunities, across the grasslands, and the chance to contemplate the lunch fit for a king or queen you are about to be served.
Route starts from De Hoop Opstal and follows the trails on left side of the cliffs along the Vlei. A scenic likestome jeep track route to De Mond and then an open gravel road to Melkkamer and back along a circular route to the Opstal