One of my favourite places visited on my recent trip to South Africa was Grootbos Nature Reserve.
I was expecting a very rustic lodge type property with basic service and how I was wrong! Grootbos is set within a 23 hectare Milkwood forest and it is stunning. It was originally a farm with some decrepit outbuildings subsequently bought by a Capetonian for a ‘project’ in the 90s and it has grown since then.
The first thing you notice is its very modern building hidden within the thick forest and the next is the view! Absolutely stunning views from the main building that look out over a huge vista of forest right down to a perfect beach.
I was met by 6 staff when I arrived, my bag was whisked off to my room and I was set down with a cold drink by the manager for a chat. This wasn’t special treatment this is just the standard. It was really just to get to know each other so he could make suggestions for my time there as there is quite a selection of free activities available. Once he explained how it all worked he introduced me to my guide Kevin who walked and talked me through all there is to do.
At Grootbos you can be as active or inactive as you like. My choices for that afternoon where a Social Responsibility tour (visiting there education centres), Ancient Caves tour or Horseback Riding and in the morning I would have the chance to go on the Forest & Fynbos walking tour, 4×4 Reserve Safari, Horseback Riding or Guided Beach Walk. As I was on a tight schedule I could only avail of an afternoon activity so I opted for the Cave tour.
In the meantime I was able to go to my room relax and then get some lunch. The villas are awesome! Huge villas with separate living room, bedroom, dressing room and big bathroom, though the best part is the deck with uninterrupted views equalling the ones from the main building. I was able to lie on my day bed on the deck and have a little doze before lunch.
Lunch is served in the main building with a set menu. First course is a huge buffet of meat, salad, cheeses, bread, pasta and anything else you can think of. I had a choice of four main courses, I chose steak in a three mushroom sauce with salad and spicy potato wedges – it was absolutely perfect. The experience being enhanced by one of the best views I have ever experienced. Brownies with ice cream with hot fudge sauce and I was ready for my caving experience.
I was lucky as I was the only one on the tour so it was just me and Kevin. We head down to the cliffs and caves in the area which is only 5 minutes away. He has huge amounts of information about the flora and fauna of the area and is able to take me right down into the caves. We had to climb down some fairly steep rocks and jump over large pools of water. It is amazing to see how the landscape has changed and he was able to show me different rock formations from 85,000 years ago. It reminded me of my youth with summers at the beach searching in rock pools for creatures as we discovered all sorts of starfish, mollusks and crabs. It was a really interesting tour, one of the best sights was a perfectly formed fossil of a bird in one of the rocks, we did have to time it right with the incoming tide to ensure we able to easily leave the case but it was worth it.
This is definitely a tour for the younger person due to the jumping over rocks and avoiding incoming waves, I was out of breath on the climb back up as well.
After all that I needed a rest and my villa deck was the perfect place, I was able to sit out and connect with Wi-Fi to catch up with emails from home.
As I was travelling alone the manager asked me if I fancied having dinner with him and a couple of drinks. This also gave me a chance to meet the owner too, who was eccentric to say the least. We had a great 6 course meal with lots of choice, mine was as follows:-
- Course 1 : Aubergine salad
- Course 2 : Falafel with mango salad
- Course 3 : Tom Yam soup
- Course 4 : Pineapple sorbet
- Course 5 : Braised pork neck
- Course 6 : Chocolate mousse with peanut fritter.
Every course was delicious!
I was sad I didn’t get to spend more time at Grootbos and partake in some of the other activities, I will definitely be back and next time it will be the beach tour and shark diving!