Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

I had heard so many incredible things about Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a private reserve between Gaansbaai and Standford in the Cape Whale Coast. More importantly I had seen things, beautiful things that ensured we add Grootbos to our list of places to see whilst on our South African road trip.

After 3 and half weeks travelling every kind of road (or lack therefore) throughout the country, we arrived at the front gate. This was our final stop and the place we would celebrate our One Year Anniversary…

Fortunate popped out from her security office with giant smile enquiring about how we were. She was like a ray of sunshine and after chatting and her wishing us well; we relaxed before we had even entered the gate.

We parked our car at Forest Lodge, our place of five star luxury accommodation for the next two nights. We received an ice cold welcome drink upon arrival whilst Lauren at reception helped us check in. The reception area pulled me in with its contemporary design, bright fabrics and King Proteas decorated throughout. The entire wall of the lounge and dining area was made completely of glass which revealed the most breath-taking view out of the vast fields of fynbos and Walker Bay.

Lauren walked us to our villa, number 26 amongst the Milkwood forest and narrow pathways. The sleek, wooden door opened to my dream suite. Multi-coloured proteas and fynbos were to be found in a vase and in photographs on the wall. Wood was stacked up beside the fireplace and the heavy, glass doors opened up onto a deck set with an umbrella and two loungers with the same majestic view.

The main bedroom boasted a huge four poster bed with nets falling down slightly from each corner. A floral-patterned orange cover hugged the bottom of the bed to match the pillows. I’m not sure what I loved more- the view of forest green and the vast blue of the ocean or the fact that you could slide a wooden door open to reveal a step-up to a heavenly spa bath.

I would’ve moved in immediately and claimed this part of the reserve as my own. And that was before I tasted any of the gourmet cuisine. It was here that we encountered the most delightful staff and certainly the best of our entire road trip. Goodlaw, Bennet and Ziyanda were amongst many waiters and barmen who served with total professionalism whilst smiling and laughing easily and enhancing our stay that much more .

Meal after meal whether it was fillet, or salmon bake, every bite was superb with delicately placed eye-catching garnishing. From the starter and palate cleansers to the soup of the day and dessert, I did quite know how I would ever return to normal food.

From their list of daily activities offered, we chose to go horse-riding. As beginners, we were taken out on horses named ‘Flame’ and ‘Lightening’. We walk steadily along the paths throughout the long grass and bushes of fynbos. Even though Lightening had been fed, she persisted on ducked her head down suddenly to nibble on the fresh grass and good greens we passed. Once her head was down, it was quite a feat to pull her strong, chestnut brown neck up again.

On a path uphill, we began to trot. Ultimately not the most comfortable feeling for a beginner, but totally exhilarating for both you and the horse. We warned to make sure our horses don’t end up next to each other as this would signal ‘racing time’. So we trotted along until Lightening decided to she had had enough and stopped. In the heat of the day, the horses’ tails flicked vigorously to dissuade the masses of flies whilst we flicked them away.

We also went on the tour of the Ancient Caves with our guide, Bongani. The tour took us all the way down to the coastline. Walking down a group of wooden steps we stood on a deck overlooking the aquarium water swirling up amongst the navy blue of the deep ocean. The clean swell brought in big waves which crashed on the tiny beach of soft white sand nestled between rocky cliffs.

We ducked beneath bee hives at the cave’s entrance and walked around the deck in Klipgat cave (also known as Die Kelders Cave). The Iziko South African musuem has been studying this cave since 1969. It was here were the earliest pottery and tools from the Stone Age were found in South Africa. It was near this region where the earliest shell middens were discovered, proof that strandlopers and Khoisan people were feeding on shellfish.

After the beach, we drove towards De Kelders where Grootbos have a sundowners and a whale watching spot. Being October, we were in luck. Even without the telescope we saw about eight different whales, some with calves. They seemed to float in pairs or swim fairly quickly before disappeared out of sight. They stuck their tails, fins or sometimes breached the surface of the deep ocean and sprayed a fountain of water up into the air. All the while we sipped champagne and munched on snacks in total disbelief of what we were witnessing just before sunset.

Leaving Grootbos and its staff was one of our hardest goodbyes of the entire trip. We waved goodbye to five star meals, a dreamy villa and the fields of fynbos until next time…

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Gerald Crawford

I was born in Johannersburg South Africa. I live in Stellenbosch and love my country. - Paid my dues at the The University of Life - If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me. My E-mail Address is

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1 Response

  1. adventurepic says:

    My new wife and I chose Grootbos for the first two nights of our honeymoon roadtrip. This was a bad idea, because following our two nights here, no other establishment could even come close to matching the incredible experience we had at Grootbos!!

    We ended up arriving at the lodge quite late at night following unexpected delays in our trip (boo hoo!), but despite this, we were received like VIP Celebrity guests by Joanita and the reception team, and the treatment stayed that way for the duration of our stay!! I have to make a special mention of our assigned guide Joanita, she is an absolute STAR, we LOVED her. Her contagious laugh and quirky personality was the perfect match for ours and we laughed endlessly with her. When she found out that we love frogs, she made special arrangements to take us frogging on the second night! She was just brilliant! When we come back next year with our family, we are definitely making a special request to have her assigned to us, so Sean – make sure you keep her happy so that she’s still there next year during whale season 🙂 I want to also give a special and massive THANK YOU to the staff involved with the jaw-droppingly spectacular honeymoon turndown in our room. Words will never explain how special my wife and I felt when we arrived back at the room after dinner. After the most stressful few months of our lives arranging the wedding along with more than a few emotional breakdowns, coming back to that room with the raging fire, the aircon on, the champagne, the tea candles, we just felt utterly spoiled. We finally had permission to relax and start our holiday!

    Altogether, all I can say is that our time at Grootbos was the most amazing, unforgettable experience and I can’t thank you all enough for making us feel so special. From the front of house staff, to the amazing food, to Joanita and meeting Sean on the first night, the whole stay was just spectacular. We promise to be back as soon as possible, this time with our family too! And Joanita: Make sure you brief the froggies so that we get a really good show next time we go frogging 🙂

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