Coastal and Fynbos Delights at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in Gansbaai, South Africa
Deep in the heart of Cape Town’s Floral Kingdom lies the incredibly pristine Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. With wraparound views and the most delicious cuisine, this is nature in the lap of luxury.
Dedication to luxury, progressive and sustainable tourism makes Grootbos Private Nature Reserve a force to be reckoned with. When the Lutzeyer family first laid eyes on a small farm nestled in the fynbos and fronted by Walker Bay in 1991, they set the wheels in motion to initialize something that is so extraordinary today that it attracts visitors from all over the world.
Our arrival on a beautiful Saturday afternoon is met by guide Kelly Loubser who welcomes us in the Grootbos car park. The two-hour drive from Cape Town has left us famished and we are delighted to discover that we have made it in time for lunch. We are ushered through to the veranda by waitress Thandeka where a table for three has been set up.
My husband and I order the delicious calamari and fries while our daughter opts for the chicken pops with French fries. Dessert is the melt-in-your-mouth homemade vanilla ice cream for our daughter and I. My husband settles for a frothy cappuccino in the midst of being challenged to a game of chess by our daughter. She walks away as the champion.
After lunch, Kelly shows us to our impressive accommodation for the next two nights, a two-bedroom Garden Lodge luxury suite, perfect for families or friends traveling together. The adjoining freestanding suites are set amidst an ancient Milkwood forest and the particular tree outside our bedroom window is reminiscent of a Van Gogh masterpiece.
We decide to luxuriate in our exquisite accommodation, foregoing some of the activities on offer; horse riding, fat biking down the sand dunes and a historical cave tour and instead, enjoy what is at our fingertips – tranquility immersed in the most serene setting. An afternoon spent sitting on our private veranda overlooking Walker Bay is just what we all needed and too soon, it is dinner time.
The restaurant at Garden Lodge is beautifully illuminated and the menu is perfectly created to suit every palate. A unique and special footnote on the menu states that ‘if you’d like to taste more than the usual number of courses, please ask your waiter for taster-size portions of all your selected dishes’. With the freshest and most organically sourced ingredients, each meal is masterfully crafted. We are all offered amuse-bouche of cauliflower pannacotta with beetroot aioli, followed by a palate cleanser of orange sorbet by waiter team Ziyanda and Dickson.
I order the pan-fried prawns’ main course as a starter portion and my husband tries the crispy duck leg. For the main course, my husband and I both decide on the grilled beef fillet with peppercorn sauce while our daughter chooses her favorite – pizza! Why I order dessert is a good question, but I simply cannot resist the ‘passionate about chocolate’ conclusion to my meal – itakuja mousse, azelia aero, passion fruit inspiration ganache & passion fruit ice cream.
After dinner, we take a leisurely stroll back to our suite. Structured from stone, thatch, and timber, the inviting interiors are reflective of international trends, combined with African warmth. Our anticipatory excursion the following morning makes us turn in early, but not before enjoying a cleansing shower with the Grootbos Just Pure fynbos shower products. The elevated bed is covered in the softest white cotton bedding and the 100% down duvet ensures that slumber comes easily.
Kelly meets us in reception after our delicious breakfast to drive us to Dyer Island Cruises in Gansbaai. Marine guide, Jax Bath, presents an introduction and safety briefing, after which we depart with the rest of the group to board the vessel Dreamcatcher in search of the Marine Big Five. First up, we pass the Marine Dynamics boat where people are shark cage diving, spotting a few copper sharks coming in for a feed.
Our next sighting can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime viewing – a southern right whale half-brindle mom with her brindle calf. The captain turns off the boat’s engines, and mom and baby playfully approach, leaving us all breathless with wonder. On our way to Geyser Rock, where a large colony of seals resides, a juvenile penguin is swimming alongside the boat.
Back on terra firma, we depart to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary where injured, oiled or distressed penguins and birds are cared for. These cute critters have a great chance of being reintroduced back into the wild where they belong.
The fresh sea air has taken its toll and as we head back to Grootbos, we realize that a delicious lunch will be waiting for us. Just like the well-thought-out activities, superb accommodation, delectable food, jaw-dropping views and minuscule attention to detail, you can expect the 5-star way of life at Grootbos.
| Photographs courtesy of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and by Heléne Ramackers
*** Views expressed are the author’s own.
*** Thank you to Gillian Gernetzky from Nicky Arthur PR for arranging our stay and for Grootbos Private Nature Reserve for hosting us.