Exploring the Cape Floral Kingdom | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

by Candice Land
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve Cave

We spent a wonderful 24 hours exploring the Cape Floral Kingdom with Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. The five-star luxury eco-lodge blew our minds with incredible views, delicious food, friendly staff, and the most relaxing suite ever experienced.

This video shows just a few of our highlights from the day. If we could go back to experience it again, we would a hundred times over.

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Gearing up for the adventure

We spent the Friday night hyping ourselves up by attending the Kalk Bay theatre, bonding with Ollie’s mum and waking up to the rolling swell in Kalk Bay. With the waves giving us a gift on a platter, we could not resist a surf at Muizenberg before hitting the road.

The waves did us proud. So with scraggly salt-water hair, warm and comfy clothes, and salt remnants in our eyebrows, we pumped the music and took in the gorgeous drive over Sir Lowry’s Pass, through Gansbaai, and into the gates of Grootbos.

Getting acquainted

We knew that we were about to have our minds blown from the second that we drove into the Reserve. When we arrived in the parking lot of the Forest Lodge, our guide and host Kelly was waiting for us. The porters whisked off our bags and we walked into the most incredible view and delicious lunch.

We were barely able to finish the main course because we were so filled up with the beauty of the view. However, there was definitely space for the Grootbos Honeycomb ice cream. With bellies full, we hobbled down the path to our lodge. We opened the door and immediately took another step back. The room was fully kitted – with a lounge, fireplace, massive bedroom, an even bigger bathroom, and the most breathtaking view.

All we wanted to do was indulge in the soft linen and mini-bar. But we had an itinerary suggested by Kelly that we had to take full advantage off. So a quick shower to wash off the remains of the surf from our skin would have to suffice.


Klipgat Cave and De Kelders sunset

We couldn’t have quite predicted the astounding beauty we were about to encounter. We descended the 200 steps, stopping along the way to taste the “samp fire” and “dune spinach”, smell the flowers, and learn about the layers of limestone and natural water supply.

When given the opportunity to enter the cave the “normal” way or the “extreme” way – we obviously chose the extreme way which included tighter confines and a darker environment. But when we emerged – well, that was magical. We were standing in the middle of a cave that was inhabited by Khoisan over 2,000 years ago. Kelly explained the movements of the land over time, the artifacts that have been dug up, and the geographical make-up.

Afterward, we strolled along the beach, watching a seal eat his fill, and scramble over rocks before climbing up to watch an intensely gorgeous sunset while sipping Amarula and munching biltong.

A night of fine dining

At this point, we could have left then and there and been satisfied. But it was only the tip of the iceberg. We were assured that the water supply in Grootbos was strong, and so we took advantage of the bath and champagne in our suite. Feeling fully relaxed and pampered, we dressed to the nines and walked arm-in-arm to dinner.

Although we were far from hungry due to constant snacking and drinking throughout the day, we made space for the 5-course meal at the candle-lit table. Flavors exploded in our stomachs, adding to the romantic mood. We sipped on the most delicious wine and tasted blended ingredients that we would never have previously tried.

When we got back to the room, the fire was roaring, and our fluffy gowns were waiting for us. We lasted approximately five minutes before passing out from exhaustion and bliss.

Exploring the Cape Floral Kingdom with a flower safari

The next morning we woke up early and gorged on a delectable breakfast buffet before meeting Kelly at the game vehicle outside. The weather was miserable but the excitement was keeping us warm and we were bundled up, wrapped in blankets.

The next hour and a half were incredibly insightful. We learned about the Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest of the six in the world, but the most diverse. Specks of information were shared about the survival habits and aesthetic mutations of the Fynbos varieties. We were exposed to the taste of nectar and the smells of buchu. The flower safari was a truly special experience.

Horse riding in the trails

Our weekend ended off with a light trot along the trails of the Reserve on the back of a horse. With both of us having had fairly bad experiences previously on horses, we enjoyed the relief of a slow walk, feeling only the gently alternating height of the left and right hip of the horse.

Ollie had a bit of a stubborn beast and so we had to turn back slightly earlier than the route planned, but we managed to soak up wonderful views and breathe in the fresh air.

The sustainability practices at Grootbos are astounding and worthy of further research. The fact that such a thriving business still offers such luxury for guests is the epitome of the future of sustainable eco-tourism.

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Music credit:
*Go Rock – Creative Commons
*Cool – Lafunkhh
*Julian Avila -Beach Front
*Lokal Affarir Remix – Jungle Flute
*Kozlof – Happy

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