Grootbos Private Nature Reserve can be found in Gansbaai just outside the seaside town of Hermanus in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Its location between the mountains and the sea allows guests to appreciate an African landscape as well as diverse marine life. Hermanus is well-known as a prime spot for viewing whales in the Indian Ocean.
But it’s not just whales – this part of the world is in fact home to the Marine Big 5: whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, and sharks. Whether you are interested in ocean life or expansive indigenous forests, Grootbos provides both.
The name Grootbos means ‘Big Forest’ in Afrikaans – a language indigenous to South Africa. The reserve was named such because the luxury accommodation is set amongst an ancient milkwood forest, where many of the trees are over 1000 years old.
The reserve is an incredible 2500 hectares in size, encompassing enormous expanses of pristine unspoilt Cape flora, including the beautiful fynbos for which this region is so famous.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is all about eco-tourism. As such, all aspects of the reserve are designed to encourage harmonious integration with the natural environment.
From the moment I arrived it felt like a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of life. I immediately felt immersed in the natural landscape. It is truly a magical location.
There are three options when it comes to accommodation: the Garden Lodge, Forest Lodge, and the private Villa. I checked into a luxury suite in the Forest Lodge. My suite consisted of a generous bedroom, en-suite bathroom, a second bathroom, and a lounge with a fireplace. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had a private outside deck complete with my own private pool, loungers, and an outdoor shower from which I could savour the views of Walker Bay.
The decor echoes the location. Natural materials are combined with luxurious fabrics. A cool palette of white and pale wood is accented by elements of pale sea green and teal that complement the sea and forest views. Everywhere there are beautiful flower arrangements that showcase the indigenous flora. Throughout there are large expanses of glass that make the most of the spectacular views.
The indulgence of Grootbos is nowhere more apparent that in the reserve’s two restaurants. Executive Chef Ben Conradie and his team provide mouth-watering meals that change on a daily basis. There is a standard in-house menu as well as a dinner menu that changes daily.
The emphasis is on local, fresh and organic produce, transformed into dishes of gastronomical delight. In keeping with this, all wines that are served here (apart from the sparkling variety) are from the local Overberg region.
Shortly after checking in I was treated to a delicious three course meal. I had a wonderful roasted butternut and pumpkin seed salad, a gourmet ostrich burger, and a lemon and orange Eton mess. The large glass windows provided panoramic views of the mountains and bay to entertain you whilst you indulge. If the wind isn’t acting up, guests can also dine outside on a large deck.
The dinner that evening consisted of no less than five courses that tantalised my taste buds from start to finish. I indulged in gazpacho, a Caprese salad, apple and parsnip soup, pineapple and Muskadel sorbet, pan fried deboned quail, and then chocolate fondant. So it was with delightful anticipation that I made my way to breakfast the next morning. And I was not disappointed.
If all this wasn’t enough, Grootbos also offers a wide range of guided activities to enable you to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings. Upon arrival, I was provided with an itinerary of all the tours on offer during my stay. Tours and activities include options such as whale watching, 4×4 flower safaris, cave tours, coastal tours, and many other ways in which you can truly appreciate the magnificent location.
I went on the Ancient Caves Tour that was a ninety minute tour of Klipgat Caves on the edge of the sea. The informative guide led a very interesting tour that ended in sparkling wine and snacks at Grootbos’ Whale House. It was magnificent.
Throughout my stay, the service was friendly and welcoming. Everything was organised and extremely efficient. The staff met us at our car, knew who we were, where we were staying, and what our itinerary was. From start to finish, this was an incredible experience.
This piece of paradise is by far one of my most favourite places and has stolen the imagination of my heart and soul.