3HRS 15 MINUTES 140 MILES AWAY
5 MELKKAMMER, DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE
It’s a story repeated all over British colonial Africa: rich outsider builds a manor house deep in the bush, only for it to fall into disrepair. Fortunately that fate was spared Melkkammer, the Edwardian home of Irish racehorse breeders, which has recently been refurbished as the jewel in the crown of the De Hoop Nature Reserve, a spectacular 34,000-hectare patch of salty tundra (dehoopcollection.com). From Cape Town head as far south as it’s possible to go in Africa to Cape Agulhas, a storm-battered spot that feels like the end of the world. This is where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic, a maelstrom not far from where HMS Birkenhead went down in 1952 and the cry of “women and children first” began. The motorboat that delivers visitors to Melkkammer chugs sedately across a shallow estuary, home to pelicans and flamingos. From the water’s edge, a lawn kept trim by grazing elands leads you to an imposing pile, complete with panelled walls, tiled floors and four-poster beds. You can self-cater (from 9,600 rand per night, sleeps 8), or book a team of chefs and maids. Spend days climbing dunes or visiting the nearby Lekkerwater house where F.W. de Klerk put the finishing touches to his 1990 speech that dismantled apartheid. There are bird guides and bike trails. Come sundown, be sure to be back in the drawing room for preprandial drinks.