When I first heard that the hashtag on instagram for the Grootbos Nature Reserve in the Gansbaai area was #GrootBosMagic I was very intrigued. What makes a place magical and not just special or interesting? What ingredients does a 5 star luxury lodge on a nature reserve need to make it stand out from the rest? As Michael and I drove up to the Forest lodge through endless pink and white fynbos on a crisp Tuesday afternoon we had a feeling we would find out very soon.
1. The Food:
The first thing we experienced at Grootbos was the food. We were welcomed with a delicious home made ginger beer drink and told its not too late for lunch yet should we be interested and of course we were. The dining area at the Forest lodge is bright and deliciously warm with a beautiful fireplace and views over the reserve and the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal.
Meals are included in the price of your stay and there is something for everyone from starters to desserts. I must say there wasn’t one meal I didn’t enjoy and if you want to mix and match what you are eating feel free to do that. There were a few culinary creations that really stood out to me though, the orange and lemon eton mess was one of the best things I had ever eaten, the fillet was perfection and the fish was fresh and delicious. Lunch and dinners are three course meal affairs with little treats and fresh warm bread in between. For breakfast you can have a hot option as well as the buffet and I had the flapjacks with bacon twice just because they were that good.
There are two types of lodges, The Garden Lodge which is more for families and The Forest Lodge which is where we stayed. Our “room” if you can call it that was one of 17 free standing luxury suites and we were blown away by it. Gorgeous interiors, incredibly spacious with a huge deck overlooking fynbos and the ocean in the distance. There was a fireplace, a big canopy bed, a massive bathroom and one of my favourite things, underfloor heating.
Its the type of place you could stay for a long time ( or just move in like I wanted to do ) and myself and Michael just wanted to cuddle up in front of the fireplace and forget about city life!
3. The Milkwood Forest:
When we were taken to our suite we walked through a Milkwood Forest and this is actually where Grootbos got its name. Grootbos translated means Big Bush and their Milkwood forest is 1 of only 10 on earth which makes it really special and magical. It was like a fairytale walking through it especially at night and when it was raining and you could see drops of water glistening everywhere. It really transported you into another world and thats a feeling that I love to experience.
4. Erica Irregularis:
If you don’t know what Erica Irregularis is I don’t blame you! Before visiting Grootbos I also had no idea this gorgeous pink fynbos existed and that might be because it only grows on the reserve overlapping a bit to Gansbaai and Standford. No where else in the world will you find it and that made it so special to see in bloom.
5. The Fynbos Safari:
We have been on game safaris before but I had never heard of a fynbos safari so it was something I really wanted to experience. We were taken out into the reserve by Jo, our amazing ranger in a Land Rover with hot water bottles and blankets to keep us toasty on the ride. She stopped and explained all the different fynbos types that grow on the reserve along the way and it was so informative and beautiful. We also stopped for some hot chocolate and biscuits and a bit of an impromptu photoshoot where Jo even took a beautiful picture of myself and Michael. Its really one of the free activities that I would suggest you do when staying at Grootbos.
6. Horse Riding:
Another one of their free activities is horse riding and believe it or not something that I have never done before. The sky was gloomy when we got to the stables and the clouds were dark and threatening but it just made the landscape moody and gorgeous looking like something out of an English country-side novel. My horse was a pretty cream colour and his name was Nico and once I got on I felt totally relaxed and at ease. We trotted through the endless pink and white flowers, which the horses seemed to enjoy eating as well and finished our ride as the first drops of rain hit the earth.
7. The people:
People make a place and the people from Grootbos were just awesome. Friendly faces greeted us everywhere and it felt like they made us part of the Grootbos family from the get go. We were told that Grootbos has one of the lowest staff turn arounds and I can see why. Everyone we met on our stay seemed to really enjoy what they were doing.
8. The special touches:
There were so many little special touches that I didn’t expect and it really made the experience of staying at Grootbos even better. We would return after dinner with hot water bottles in our bed, a fire crackling in the fire place and a beautiful bath with candles and rose petals. Its small things like this that make a big impression and leave people feeling spoiled and happy which is exactly how you want to feel when going on holiday.
9. The villa:
Grootbos also boasts a gorgeous villa that can sleep up to 12 adults and that has perks that dreams are made off. It has a private chef, butler and guide and all the things that will make you feel like a celebrity if you stay there. The interior is almost like an art gallery and you have your own private pool with views to die for. If you are looking for magic, you will definitely find some at the Villa.
10. The Grootbos foundation:
Grootbos isn’t just all about luxury and gorgeous surroundings though. They have a foundation that makes a positive impact on the local community as well as nature. You can read all about it on their responsible tourism page on their website.
Grootbos really is a magical place that you will miss as soon as you leave!
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Website: click here
Fact sheet: click here
Photos by Michael Eloff