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Luxury, breathtaking landscapes, haute cuisine, animal encounters, nature, and relaxation, are some of the words that describe my stay at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. From the moment we stepped in, we forgot about the routine and daily life problems and entered an environment which aim was to make us relax and enjoy living in harmony with nature.
This place is not like any other luxury eco-reserve, it offers a different and unique experience. You not only arrive and enjoy the place but you also receive personalized attention and are guided into a whole variety of one-of-a-kind adventure and culinary experiences that are included with your stay.
There is something for everyone if you want to have a relaxing weekend away reading and eating tasty food… you can. If you want to get adventurous, explore the nature, exercise or do extreme activities as shark cage diving… you can. And if you want to do a little bit of both… you can.
I stayed here on a holiday planned with Encompass Africa, travel specialists that design luxury tailor-made holiday and safari travel for guests from all over the world. They have 17 African destinations and they handpick the accommodations, activities, safaris, flights and even the insurance that suits you best. I was more than happy to arrange my holidays with them and impressed with the great expertise, and passionate and professional service. Furthermore, I love they are involved in wildlife conservation.
We spent a full weekend at Grootbos, arriving Saturday morning and leaving Monday morning. In a quick summary these were some of the highlights of our trip:
- Saturday: we arrived at the reserve, relaxed at our villa and had a 4×4 Reserve Safari followed by an incredible dinner.
- Sunday: we had breakfast on the beach, visited ancient caves, did horseback riding, had delicious lunch, visited Grootbos farm, enjoyed a campfire in a magical setting in the middle of the forest and finished the day with another spectacular dinner.
- Monday: enjoyed a complete buffet breakfast, planted a tree and headed back to Cape Town.
Grootbos is magical. Michael, the owner, mixed the comforts of a luxury private nature reserve privileged with amazing architecture, first class service, and haute cuisine with a sustainable environment where nature, animals, staff, and the local community become a family.
Let me share with you the main characteristics of Grootbos, the different kinds of accommodation where you can stay, the activities that you can do, the restaurants, its amenities, and services.
1. Main Characteristics of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
a. Spectacular Location
Located at Gansbaai, Grootbos Private Reserve is less than two hours away from Cape Town. It was very easy to get there and on the road, we were able to see the most magnificent views of Cape Town.
And if you want to get fancier, there is also a landing strip available to arrive by helicopter and small plane.
We were welcomed with ginger ale with citrus fruit drinks and snacks, and then we relaxed in comfortable sofas with a heavenly infinite pool view that camouflaged with the blue mountains.
b. Personalized attention
Our guide was the lovely Alison, who more than a guide, became our friend. When we arrived we left our car parked and from that time she drove us everywhere in a comfortable van.
Every day she led us to experience different activities and we also eat our meals with her. This is fantastic because you can decide if you want or not to eat with your guide and take advantage of this time to ask her or him all the questions that you have.
c. Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Besides conserving its unique reserve that counts with 800 plant species, 118 bird species, 29 mammals, and 21 amphibians; the Grootbos Foundation runs several projects, from computer training to clearing alien vegetation, and each one has been cautiously designed to help the environment and build a brighter future for the people who live here.
I was able to see part of it on the “Living the future tour” that took us to the farm and on the “planting a tree” activity that let us leave positive impact before we left.
For the reasons mentioned above as well as for many more, Grootbos has received several awards, some of the most important being:
- Unique lodges of the world by National Geographic
- Hideaway of the Year by Andrew Harper
- Top 100 Hotels in the World by Fodor’s
- Best Family Hotel in the World by Tatler
a. Different Options
You can choose between the Garden Lodge, Forest Lodge, and Private Villas.
It has a homely feel with a traditional aesthetic. You can stay in one of the 11 luxury suites and enjoy its restaurant, barista bar, beauty salon and swimming pool.
Its contemporary design mixed with the dreamlike landscapes, made it such a magical place. You can choose between 16 suites with cozy fireplaces and enjoy its restaurant, barista bar, beauty salon and infinity pool.
Described in two words these villas are my “dream house”. Secluded in luxury, with panoramic views, brilliant construction and design, own swimming pool, office, cinema room, wine cellar and fully equipped gym; they are out of this world.
b. Our Private Villa
We were staying in our private villa. I fell in love with this place, first of all, the architecture was incredible, the house was modern and chic and it had everything; kitchen, living room with fireplace, 4 rooms with shower and bath, gym, pool table, cellar, and my favorite, a big pool with a breathtaking landscape.
Alison showed us all the activities offered in the reserve and helped us plan a schedule for the weekend based on our time and interests.
The majority of the activities were included with our stay; I assure you that you are not going to be bored here!
a. 4×4 Reserve Safari
The first day, after we left our baggage in the villa got ready for an exhilarating and informative drive with breathtaking views. Alison drove us in a 4×4 truck throughout the reserve and we were able to discover the rich variety of plants and trees of Grootbos that combined with the colors of the sunset created an unforgettable experience.
b. Ancient Caves
The second day we had a nice walk through ancient caves after breakfast. This was a very interesting experience because we were able to imagine ourselves 80,000 years ago living at and from the sea.
c. Horseback riding
We experienced sweeping views on a laidback horseback ride. My horse’s name was “Lightning” and she was the cutest horse ever. I was a little bit afraid of horseback riding because I did it only once in my life before, but Lightning was very calm and gentle and when the ride finished I was feeling so happy everything went fine. Also, if you come with children, they can experience a pony ride.
d. Living the Future Tour
We went to see what Grootbos does for the local community. The owner, Michael has a passion for sustainability and to help the community and you can see it in practice with the Grootbos Foundation.
One of the things I liked the most was the farm; eggs, pork, and vegetables are some of the products grown there. And all the waste from the restaurant is treated and used as fertilizer.
e. Campfire with champagne
We enjoyed a campfire in a magical setting in the middle of an ancient Milkwood forest.
We didn’t have enough time to do all the activities that had an extra cost, but we planted a tree our last day:
On our last day, we were grateful for this blessed weekend and we wanted to leave something back so we planted our very own tree.
The best thing is that we received the coordinates of the exact place where we planted it so in the future when we come back, we will be able to see how much it has grown.
Also, you can try any of these activities:
- Shark Cage Diving: get face to face with the Great White Shark.
- Eco Boat Cruise: search for the Marine Big 5.
- Scenic Helicopter Flight: explore the life of Walker Bay from the air.
- Bloom Salon: experience a relaxing massage.
Depending on the purpose of your stay, maybe you want to enjoy a romantic getaway or spend time with your family, Grootbos has created suggested itineraries that will help you make the most of your time:
- Shark Spotting Package
- Marine Package
- Whale Watching Package
- Wine Package
- Progressive Tourism Package
- Family Package
- Standard Package
- Secret Season Holiday Package
- Romance Package
- Honeymoon Package
Prepare yourself for a weekend full of memorable meals. The menu is included with your stay so you shouldn’t restrain yourself of ordering your favorite food. There are two restaurants, one at the Garden Lodge and another one at the Forest Lodge. We had the majority of our meals at the Forest Lodge and I loved its ambiance with striking contemporary design.
Grootbos culinary team prepared all the dishes with freshest ingredients (some of them coming from their own organic farm) and I can say that every meal was exceptional. We enjoyed buffet breakfasts, 3-course lunches, and 6-course dinners.
We had breakfast in two different locations:
Picnic at the Beach – Second Day
The next day after our arrival we woke up happy and full of energy and our lovely guide Alison drove us to Walker Bay Nature Reserve. She prepared a very complete breakfast picnic and also brought a small table and blankets to create a nice setting for us to appreciate the landscape. This was the first time I had breakfast on the beach and it was very comfortable, the beach is surrounded by boulders that protected us from the wind so we didn’t struggle with sand.
Buffet Breakfast at the Forest Lodge Restaurant – Last Day
To finish this unforgettable weekend, we had a complete buffet breakfast. All different kinds of fruits, yogurts, jams, marmalades, and juices were offered and moreover, we could also order different kinds of eggs from the menu.
The second day we had a 3-course lunch at the Forest Lodge Restaurant, and everything was mouthwatering. The food here is something different, you can see the hand of an expert chef en each of the plates.
We finished each of our days having dinner at the Forest Lodge Restaurant. We had a wide variety of options for starters, mains, side dishes and desserts.
a. The SPA
Rejuvenate yourself at Grootbos SPA after doing different activities on the reserve. There are body treatments, waxing, facials, eyelash perm, manicure, pedicure, gel polish, and reflexology. And you can have them either in the treatment rooms, your suite or even in the forest.
b. Conference Venue
Working professionals can get creative and productive under the natural and tranquil environment at Grootbos which caters for groups from 10-60 persons.
c. Weddings Venue
At Grootbos you can celebrate a magical wedding either on the sand of a secluded beach, under the canopy of an ancient Milkwood forest or the splendor of the Cape Floral Kingdom. The dishes are prepared by Master Chefs, and the entire Forest Lodge luxury suites could be reserved for the guests.
a. Friendly Staff
I was impressed by the quality of the service. More than a willingness to help us with any of our requests, I always felt the positive energy and happiness of the staff.
b. Free and fast Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi access was available throughout the villas and restaurant. The Wi-Fi was very fast so if you want to work on your laptop you can choose the perfect location to catch up on some work with a beautiful landscape.
c. Free parking
There is ample space in the reserve for parking.
Don’t miss the chance to stay at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve:
I completely recommend this place and would like to come back again and again. It is perfect for a romantic getaway, to spend time with the whole family, a weekend to relax with your group of girlfriends, or even to celebrate a dream wedding.
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