Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Gansbaai, South Africa
At a Glance
The best place on the planet to see the marine Big Five: Whales, Sharks, Dolphins, Seals and Penguins
A wide range of social and environmental projects here. Grootbos is an award winning, world leader in Responsible Tourism
So much to explore here at the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, on the hills of the reserve and down on the beach at Walker Bay
Delicious fresh and locally sourced food at both lodges, and an enviable wine cellar
Spacious and modern suites with sweeping views across the whole stretch of Walker Bay
Horse ride along the beach, explore the rock pools and caves of the coast and pause for a picnic lunch
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Garden Route enjoys a moderate climate all year round. In peak summer season, from December to February, temperatures can climb as high as 34ºC, although winter temperatures can drop to as low as 4ºC. Generally, this season has many sunny days with high wind at times. During the winter months of June, July, and August, expect frequent rains and a couple of chilly evenings. From June to December, the Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) graces Walker Bay with its massive presence.
To start planning your vacation to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Just 2 hours from Cape Town, Grootbos is a superb family-run nature reserve set on the fynbos-clad hills above Walker Bay. 27 luxurious suites are divided between two lodges, set amongst ancient milkwood trees overlooking a majestic sweep of coastline.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is in a beautiful location above Walker Bay, a short distance from Hermanus on the Garden route, with sweeping views over the bay and out to sea. Grootbos is split into two lodges - Garden Lodge and Forest Lodge.
Grootbos Garden Lodge’s 11 suites provide the ideal getaway for families, while the newer Forest Lodge with its fresh, contemporary style and spectacular sea views is ideally suited to couples and groups of friends. The large suites, each with a private deck, offer guests the chance to unwind amidst the splendours of nature, while enjoying all the comforts of home. The use of natural textures and colors enhance the feeling of harmony with nature; well appointed bathrooms with large windows overlook a carpet of diverse flora stretching down towards the sea. Combine this with a beauty or massage treatment in the comfort of your own room and you will be left feeling utterly peaceful and at one with your surroundings.
In addition to guided nature walks and drives, activities at Grootbos include horse riding, fishing, birdwatching, great white shark cage diving and whale watching. Southern right whales migrate into Walker Bay to shelter from the storms in the south Atlantic and to calve from June to November. The cliffs of Walker Bay offer some of the best land-based whale viewing in the world and you can get even closer to these beautiful creatures by boat. Watch spellbound as mothers, calves and energetic bulls come to within 30 meters of the rocky shoreline.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve offers 11 Suites at Garden Lodge and 16 suites at Forest Lodge. Suites in both lodges feature a spacious bedroom with en suite bathroom, separate lounge with tea & coffee making facilities, minibar, cosy fireplace and satellite TV / DVD player for in-room entertainment. The spacious suites open out onto a private outside deck overlooking Walker Bay.
Two private villas are the last word in secluded luxury, offering unforgettable experiences to our discerning guests. With intuitive service provided by your own private chef, butler and nature guides, your every need will be met in a home-away-from-home environment of unsurpassed quality.
|Forest Luxury Suite||
Secluded, tranquil and opulent, these are suites for romance, contemplation and connecting deeply with both nature and yourself. Taste the fresh air, listen to the sound of the ocean and breathe in the smell of the unique fynbos that surrounds you.
Garden Lodge offers good facilities for children. There is a playground near the horse stables and there are a number of activities to inspire and educate them, including treasure hunts in the Milkwood Forest. Special children's menus are available as well as refreshments and snacks during activities. Children under 12 years old are not accepted at Forest Lodge.
Facilities at the lodges include a swimming pool, the 'Red Indigo' and 'Garden' restaurants, serving imaginative interpretations of 'old school dishes' with breathtaking views of Walker Bay and the surrounding fynbos reserve.
The is also a boma nestled in the lush surroundings of Milkwood Forest, bar, spacious lounge area, gallery, infinity pool, conference center and spa with treatments and massages on offer.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve offers horse riding, guided walks or drives in the reserve, which are complimentary at both lodges. Activities at an a additional cost include whale watching, great white shark cage diving, other boat activities, wine tours, bird watching, scenic flights, horse riding and in-room beauty and massage treatments.
Louisa Ross-Taylor (Staff)
Grootbos is one of those magical places where you could never tire and there is always something to do. I would best describe it as a safari lodge by the sea - so during the whale season (May to November) you can take a boat out to sea the marine 'big five', whales, penguins, seals, shakes and dolphins. But I also loved our visit to the caves with our fascinating guide and being able to watch the whales from the shore as well as our walk through the fynbos and flowers round the lodge.
The staff were amazing and looked after us so well and we were also so well fed with some of the best food of our trip and the lodge also has an amazing cellar and made wine pairing suggestions for each course.
For little ones I loved the playground and the petting farm with a couple of pot bellied pigs, chickens and bunnies.
Mrs Hazel Sambles (Guest)
The children really enjoyed Grootbos. It was the first place with a games room for them, plus DVDs - and the stables were a big bonus, particularly as the weather wasn't great so there were no boats taking people out to the whales on the first two days. I walked one of their marked walks through the fynbos, and thought that they were brilliant. All the other activities available were well organized, with good guides. They drove us to Walker Bay beach and then showed us the caves, and we could also stop at a house on the cliffs, from where we really could see the whales only meters away from us.
There are a million reasons to feel smug about staying here. There are the OMG views across the wilderness and the hazy, wave-thrashed curve of Walker Bay. There are the bucket-list activities - everything from horse riding on the beach for the kids to cage-diving with great whites for you. There's the new villa, worthy of the Hollywood Hills but without the spoiled, shouty neighbors, and with six suites that have sprawling decks, your own pool, a chef to whip up food for the fussiest of little eaters, and an ever-so-clever guide. And there's all the responsible stuff: the Grootbos Foundation pours money back into the community, hires and trains local youths and is BIG on conservation. So you can sit smugly beneath twisted milkwood trees and tuck into calamari steak with herby risotto, or zip out on the surf to spot seals, or romp into the hills to peer at waxy fynbos plants and spy the orange flash of a Cape rock-thrush - and know that you're doing good just by being there.
Anna Hearn (Staff)
The first thing you notice about Grootbos is the incredible views of Walker Bay the lodge is set high up in the fynbos with sweeping views of the entire bay, just perfect for whale-watching and in fact when we arrived we were glued to our binoculars the whales were very active, breaching and fluking in the water. Not surprisingly, the whale-watching is a main activity here, along with the more adrenaline-filled shark cage diving. For those wanting a more sedate option, a flower safari in the fynbos is just lovely, or take a ride on one of the lodges quarter horses through the fynbos or down onto the beach. Grootbos is split into two lodges the Garden and the Forest the Garden being a more family friendly option with a fabulous childrens games room and the Forest being perfect for couples, with more of a modern feel and lots of wide glass windows. There is also the superlatively decadent Grootbos Villa which is perfect for families or groups traveling together six bedrooms house twelve guests and the villa is a feat of modern architecture with a huge wow factor on arrival you walk in to a grand piano and thats just the start!
Dominic Atterton (Staff)
Grootbos is perched up on the hills above the seaside village of De Kelders and the Great White capital of the world Gaansbai. The Hills themselves are really what the property is all about, the hotel is run as part of a huge private reserve and conservation area dedicated to preserving the incredible array of Flora that make up the Cape Fynbos. These rolling hills covered in purple and gold and punctuated by the sharp pink of Proteas are mesmerizing.
The hotel is split into two distinct lodges. The family friendly log cabin style Garden Lodge and the modernist Forest lodge which caters for elder families and couples. I stayed in Forest Lodge which consists of a large main building completely glass fronted looking out across the Fynbos down to the Atlantic beyond. The individual cottages then stretch out from this each looking out over the same fantastic view. The cottages are huge, each with a lounge area (complete with wood burning stove for the winter) and private deck, a wonderful bedroom and an equally large bathroom with sunken bathtub placed perfectly to give the ultimate in views and privacy.
The hotel organizes a number of complimentary activities each day which guests are free to join if they please depending on their interests. We spent an afternoon exploring the nearby caves which were home to some of the earliest Homosapians. The following morning was a flower safari through the hills learning about the unique eco-system that makes this area more ecologically diverse than the Amazon rainforest.
When you add to this incredible food and wines and a genuine warmth and passion from staff then Grootbos really is a special place. Oh and it happens to be one of the premier destinations for Whale watching from July to December too
Sarah Clegg (Staff)
Grootbos is a completely unique experience on the South African coast, take a guided walk through the reserve and you can't help but be fascinated by the diversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom. The views from the extremely comfortable chalets are breathtaking: the land drops away from the hills of the reserve down to the sweep of Walker Bay below. There is so much on offer here, from shark cage diving, not nearly as scary as it sounds and an experience not to be missed, to the best land based whale watching on the planet.
Mrs Deborah Palmer (Guest)
Grootbos was excellent!
Camilla Smith (Staff)
Grootbos is in the most beautiful setting overlooking Walker Bay and positioned in a really scenic nature reserve. The rooms are all positioned to take advantage of these wonderful views. Grootbos is a place to really enjoy being outside and appreciate nature. Activities are arranged as if you are in a safari lodge in the mornings and evenings with time to relax by the pool or in your room during the day. You can go whale watching (July-October), do nature walks, beach trips to spot the penguins, seals and other animals, you can go horse riding along the beach or in the reserve and much more. During the flower season in August - October there are the most amazing array of wild flowers and supposed to be one of the most prolific flora and fauna areas of the southern cape. Professional guides will take you on your excurions and fill you with incredible facts and interesting antecdotes!
For those wanting to be more relaxed they can set up picnics on the beach or in the reserve for you or you can laze about on your deck and just enjoy being in this peaceful spot.
Grootbos really is a Scott Dunn favorite, it is a really unique property. Their conservation and community projects are all incredibly interesting as well and guests can see and experience what they have already achieved.
Coastal Cave Tour
Explore the fascinating coastal caves in the cliffs below Grootbos. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the history of human habitation going back in time to a period when the Stone Age people and Khoi bushman called the caves home.
Flight over Walker Bay
Take-off from Grootbos' private airstrip for a magical flight over the Walker Bay area, from July to October enjoy incredible sightings of Southern Right Whales from the air.
Fynbos Flower Safari
The Cape Floral Region has the highest concentration of plant species in the world. Staggeringly this recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site holds three times the diversity of species than the Amazon rainforest.
Great White Shark Cage Diving
Great white shark cage diving is an experience like no other. To get up close to the ocean's number one predator in its natural environment is a humbling experience you will never forget.
Horse Riding in the Cape
Enjoy exploring the dramatic landscapes of South Africa on horseback, an experience to be included on any visit.
Monkeyland - Plettenberg Bay
Monkeyland is a unique primate sanctuary that rehabilitates and frees previously caged primates. All of the monkeys here move about the forest freely and peacefully and allow you to view them as they would bee seen in their natural habitat.
Paragliding over Hermanus and Walkerbay
Take an unforgettable flight over Hermanus and Walkerbay with experienced and professional pilots. With easy take off and landing spots, all you need is a warm jumper and a sense of adventure!
Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve
Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in the Southern Cape and is in the perfect location for anyone who wants to experience a one day, big game viewing experience along the Garden Route.
Robberg Peninsula Walk
The Robberg Peninsula is an outcrop of land from the western side of Plettenberg Bay. The Peninsula is now a nature reserve and a marine protected area which makes for spectacular scenery, wildlife, flora and fauna.
Sea Kayaking at Walker Bay
Explore the stunning coastline of WalkerBay and see some of its abundant marine life at close range. All of the guides are extremely experienced and after a short training session, you will head out to the Marine Reserve for a unique and fun experience.
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Center
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Center at Plettenberg Bay offers guests a truly unique wildcat experience as they are taken on a guided tour of cheetah, leopard, serval, caracal and other wildcats, baboons and birds.
Whale watching on the Western Cape
Southern right whales visit the Western Cape from about June to December every year. These beautiful gentle giants congregate to the shores of Hermanus all the way along the coast line towards Plettenberg Bay.
Location & directions
Gansbaai, South Africa
Only 2 hours from Cape Town en route to Hermanus and the Garden Route, Grootbos is centerd in the heart of the Cape's abundant sea, floral and wild life landscapes. The Garden Route is rightly referred to as the Jewel of South Africa, with lush indigenous forest, free flowing rivers, expansive lagoons, sunkissed beaches and majestic mountains combining to create a symphony of natural beauty.
How to get there
The nearest airport is Cape Town International, an 11-hour 30-minute international flight. The hotel is less than a 2-hour drive. Transfers to Grootbos from Cape Town, or from the Garden Route, can be arranged.
We also have a private airstrip and airplane transfers can be arranged!