Grootbos Forest Lodge overlooks Walker Bay.

Grootbos Forest Lodge | Garden Route Luxury South African Safari Lodge

Follow the flower trail from Grootbos Forest Lodge, which is situated on 2,500ha of fynbos-dotted private land overlooking Walker Bay, just two hours from Cape Town. From birdwatching to Marine Big Five boat trips, horse riding and scenic flights, this luxury South African safari lodge will invigorate and dazzle.

The place

From where I’m standing, I can see Walker Bay, a rugged stretch of coastline that’s home to the Marine Big Five: great white shark, southern right whale, common dolphin, Cape fur seal and African penguin … We’re determined to see them all during our stay! We’re in Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, 2,500ha of pristine wilderness in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Grootbos, which means ‘big forest’ in Afrikaans, has two lodges (Garden and Forest) and two villas, all constructed of stone, thatch and timber. We’d chosen Grootbos Forest Lodge because we loved its setting: a 2,000-year-old milkwood forest.Although we anticipate we’ll be busy enough right here, we’re just two hours from Cape Town, should we wish to explore the Mother City.

From where I’m standing, I can see Walker Bay, a rugged stretch of coastline that’s home to the Marine Big Five: great white shark, southern right whale, common dolphin, Cape fur seal and African penguin … We’re determined to see them all during our stay!

We’re in Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, 2,500ha of pristine wilderness in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Grootbos, which means ‘big forest’ in Afrikaans, has two lodges (Garden and Forest) and two villas, all constructed of stone, thatch and timber. We’d chosen Grootbos Forest Lodge because we loved its setting: a 2,000-year-old milkwood forest.

Although we anticipate we’ll be busy enough right here, we’re just two hours from Cape Town, should we wish to explore the Mother City.

The room

We meander along the cobbled pathway to our suite, which is nestled under the forest canopy. We discover our bags waiting for us inside our suite, but we decide to explore before unpacking: the lounge with its homely log fire and chic furniture, a separate bedroom with an oversized canopy bed, and an expansive bathroom with a sunken bath and breathtaking views. We walk out the huge glass doors to our wooden deck, spellbound by the flowering fynbos (unique to South Africa) that sweeps down the hillside to the coastline below. The organic gardens are similarly beautiful – here we meet some of the horticulture students sponsored by Grootbos, who proudly show us some of the ingredients that will be used in our food. As we sit savouring our lunch on the restaurant terrace, we can taste the difference. It’s only a few hours and a flower safari before we’ll be enjoying more sumptuous fare at a traditional braai (‘like a barbeque, but better’ says to our guide) in the milkwood boma!

We meander along the cobbled pathway to our suite, which is nestled under the forest canopy. We discover our bags waiting for us inside our suite, but we decide to explore before unpacking: the lounge with its homely log fire and chic furniture, a separate bedroom with an oversized canopy bed, and an expansive bathroom with a sunken bath and breathtaking views.

We walk out the huge glass doors to our wooden deck, spellbound by the flowering fynbos (unique to South Africa) that sweeps down the hillside to the coastline below. The organic gardens are similarly beautiful – here we meet some of the horticulture students sponsored by Grootbos, who proudly show us some of the ingredients that will be used in our food. As we sit savouring our lunch on the restaurant terrace, we can taste the difference. It’s only a few hours and a flower safari before we’ll be enjoying more sumptuous fare at a traditional braai (‘like a barbeque, but better’ says to our guide) in the milkwood boma!

What sets it apart

You can tell that Grootbos Forest Lodge is owner run, and moreover that its owners not only love what they do, but that they’re passionate about providing the highest standards. This means that the staff go out of their way to make your experiences special, that the guides are the industry’s best, and that the food, paired with award-winning Cape wines, is exceptional (not least because it’s made fresh with ingredients from the ocean or from their organic garden). I particularly loved the gift of a milkwood tree, which I chose to plant here (we were given GPS coordinates so we could visit it when next we visit). On seeing before-and-after pictures, we were amazed at the land’s transformation: from alien-scarred farmland to the pristine, fynbos-rich wilderness we explored on our countless guided walks. To conserve this unique biodiversity and support the local community, Grootbos runs a conservation and horticulture programme for students who manage the indigenous plant nursery (where we picked up some fynbos to gift to friends in Cape Town). Furthermore, Grootbos also employs 80% of staff from the surrounding communities.

You can tell that Grootbos Forest Lodge is owner run, and moreover that its owners not only love what they do, but that they’re passionate about providing the highest standards. This means that the staff go out of their way to make your experiences special, that the guides are the industry’s best, and that the food, paired with award-winning Cape wines, is exceptional (not least because it’s made fresh with ingredients from the ocean or from their organic garden).

I particularly loved the gift of a milkwood tree, which I chose to plant here (we were given GPS coordinates so we could visit it when next we visit). On seeing before-and-after pictures, we were amazed at the land’s transformation: from alien-scarred farmland to the pristine, fynbos-rich wilderness we explored on our countless guided walks.

To conserve this unique biodiversity and support the local community, Grootbos runs a conservation and horticulture programme for students who manage the indigenous plant nursery (where we picked up some fynbos to gift to friends in Cape Town). Furthermore, Grootbos also employs 80% of staff from the surrounding communities.

At a glance

  • An exclusive lodge in an ancient milkwood forest overlooking Walker Bay, with 16 freestanding suites (two with private pools). It has a pool, bar, spa and gallery plus conference facilities.
  • Private nature reserve, family-style hosting, flexible schedules and private vehicles available (families of four get their own private vehicle, otherwise it’s an additional cost).
  • Game drives, guided fynbos walks, guided beach walks, birdwatching, kayaking (additional cost), swimming, horse riding (additional cost if on the beach), quad biking (additional cost), spa treatments (additional cost), Klipgat cave excursion, whale-watching trip, Marine Big Five boat trip (additional cost), wine tour (additional cost), scenic flights (additional cost) and cultural visits.
  • Children aged 12 and above are welcome, with sleeper couches available. Children’s programme and activities are provided, and babysitting services available at an additional cost.

  • An exclusive lodge in an ancient milkwood forest overlooking Walker Bay, with 16 freestanding suites (two with private pools). It has a pool, bar, spa and gallery plus conference facilities.
  • Private nature reserve, family-style hosting, flexible schedules and private vehicles available (families of four get their own private vehicle, otherwise it’s an additional cost).
  • Game drives, guided fynbos walks, guided beach walks, birdwatching, kayaking (additional cost), swimming, horse riding (additional cost if on the beach), quad biking (additional cost), spa treatments (additional cost), Klipgat cave excursion, whale-watching trip, Marine Big Five boat trip (additional cost), wine tour (additional cost), scenic flights (additional cost) and cultural visits.
  • Children aged 12 and above are welcome, with sleeper couches available. Children’s programme and activities are provided, and babysitting services available at an additional cost.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

The weather in the Western Cape, and along most of the Garden Route, is almost the inverse of the rest of South Africa. These warmer summer months are the driest time of the year. The beginning of summer ushers in the end of the whale-watching season, but game drives in Addo Elephant Park and Bushmans Kloof can be even more rewarding as the vegetation dies back. For ideal beach weather, you should look to be here between January and March.

If you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll find that winter in the Western Cape and Garden Route is much like spring back home: mild, sunny days interspersed with wet, windy ones. At it’s coldest, from June to August, daytime temperatures are usually 14–18°C. Southern right whales migrate into the Cape’s waters from June to November to give birth and nurse their young, with peak calving season being in July and August, easily seen from land.

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