Issue 39
A House by the Sea
Morukuru Ocean House in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, outside Cape Town is a delight for all the senses
By Dominique Trent  ·  2017-09-05  ·   Source:

 (Photographs by Stefan Els and courtesy Morukuru)  

"Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and end of all things of earth."

So wrote Heinrich Zimmer, a renowned Indologist and historian of South Asian art. And these beautiful words have been taken to heart by the owners of Morukuru Ocean House in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, about a three half hour's drive from Cape Town.

As the only five-star luxury accommodation in the 36,000-hectare reserve, Morukuru Ocean House is a place like nothing else on earth.

Spacious accommodation 

It's a bone-chillingly cold day and as we roll up to the entrance of this gargantuan, splendid example of refined modern architecture, we are welcomed like royalty by all the staff, singing and dancing just for us. With chai tea in hand we are shown around the interior by hosts Riaan and Marie. The décor, art, fittings and furniture speak of impeccable taste and the house is built from mostly natural, raw materials of the highest quality in order to blend into the pristine environment, taking its cue from the surrounding fynbos. From one end of the house to the other feels like miles - and there is an upstairs, too. We feel cocooned in utmost luxury, almost adrift in this four-bedroom ocean front home. Every room, parlor, lounge, outside area, upstairs leisure area, nook and cranny offers yet another jaw-dropping surprise. The house can accommodate eight adults and four children and is available on an all-inclusive basis for families or groups. The four suites all have their own en-suite bathrooms and glass doors overlooking the ocean.

We are introduced to our very own butler and chef Jose who suggests goat's cheese and leek soufflé as a starter for dinner, salmon for main course and chocolate torte for dessert. Yum! In fact, not only do you send them your dietary requirements beforehand but also a "wish-list" of foods and activities. Nothing is too much trouble for these amazing people.

But before dinner there is the arduous task of sundowners on the beach - sigh. The reserve is extremely remote and wonderfully devoid of swirling masses of tourists, especially in August and September.

Riaan drives us to a special spot where the smiling staff have already set up delicious snacks and our favorite drinks and we immerse ourselves in the sweeping views of the wild ocean and empty beach, stretching for miles and miles.

No shortage of activities 

In fact, De Hoop offers 51 km of pristine white beaches and dunes lapped by a warm Indian ocean, as well as limestone cliffs, rock pools, wetlands, coastal fynbos and the reserve is home to more than 260 species of birds. And you will never be bored here should adventure activities take your fancy. Choose from guided marine walks and mountain-biking to sand boarding - all of course 100 percent private and exclusive. Morukuru Ocean House also operates according to the famous Morukuru Freedom Concept: no schedules! Swim, eat, drink, laze about with a book, enjoy the garden or go for a walk - all in your own time.

Dinner that evening is spectacular and afterwards we make ourselves at home next to the cozy fire, red wine in hand, listening to Miles Davis with the wild roar of the ocean in the background. I get to my room only to discover that our butler Vusi - bless his heart! - has lit the fire in my room. How spoilt can one get! Breakfast the next morning offers some of the best chorizo and eggs-benedict ever and Chef Jose also makes mouth-watering suggestions for dinner in the form of rump steak with brandy sauce. I spend the rest of the morning gazing at the playful whales through the telescope in the second-story lounge and lazing on my huge bed, reading and watching the ocean - a more peaceful place on earth has yet to be discovered.

Riaan takes us for a marine walk during the late morning and explains the rich fauna and flora of the area in great and admirable detail, expounding on the number of whales found here. Ocean House offers a bird's eye view of the continent's greatest whale nursery, as Southern Right whales migrate to the shallow coastal basins off the Overberg Coast for the calving and nursing season from mid-July to November.

The owners of the Morukuru Family collection of properties, Ed and Anka Zeeman arrive shortly before lunch with friends and we all dig into fabulous hamburgers followed by a heavenly Kahlua dessert while being astounded by the sight of whale after whale breaching the ocean before us, almost as though putting on a show.

It starts to rain in the late afternoon. The hungry earth is blessed after such a long drought, and I cozy up by the fire with my book. We later meet for sundowners and then Ed shows us his incredibly impressive wine cellar, of which he is clearly very proud, as he should be! It features the very best South Africa has to offer and must be one of the most comprehensive private wine collections I have ever seen.

Dinner is again a fabulous affair with Ed having us in stiches with his jovial and funny anecdotes. Nature is alive in all it splendid chaos the next morning as a storm rages all around us. We brave the rain and follow Ed to some of the outside buildings, housing his very intricate eco-engineering equipment. Thanks to innovative eco house design, including the use of solar power and double glazed windows, Morukuru Ocean House is completely off the grid, relieving the tension between tourism and sustainability. So amid all this five-star luxury there is limited pressure to the environment. As we wave our long goodbyes later, leaving this rugged, beautiful place and Ocean House as it stands almost hidden in this wind-swept, untamed nature, I am strangely reminded of Cathy's dying wish in Wuthering Heights:

"I wish I were out of doors - I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy. I'm sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills. Open the window again wide."


Getting there:  

Air China outbound flights to Johannesburg in South Africa operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with return services from Johannesburg offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Flights will departs from Beijing at 23:15 Beijing time, and arrive in Johannesburg at 7:35 local time on the following day. The inbound flight departs from Johannesburg at 11:50 local time and arrives in Beijing at 7:30 Beijing time. 

Go to:  

Take any one of about 10 daily regional flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town. And once in Cape Town we suggest you rent a 4x4 vehicle for the four-hour trip to De Hoop since the last hour you travel on gravel roads.

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