Less than two hours away from Cape Town lies Grootbos Private Nature Reserve – a place where endless nature and tranquil luxury converge. Set in an indigenous fynbos forest amid rolling hills of ancient milkwood trees, with views right down to Walker Bay, this slice of serenity is a haven for nature-lovers and gourmet travellers alike.
Winter is a quiet time at this ultra-exclusive eco-reserve, which is somewhat of a travesty given the stark and striking splendour of the landscape at this time of year – flaming sunsets and vibrant fields awash with new colour – as well as some of the best whale-spotting in the world. Which is why the owners decided to create a special wintertime itinerary – Secret Season at Grootbos – where visitors can experience a handful of exciting custom-designed adventures in this dramatic otherworldly paradise.
So what exactly is Secret Season?
It’s an adventure-packed itinerary (available from May until the end of July) designed to offer travellers to this award-winning sanctuary the best that this season has to offer. Intrepid foodies will revel in the mussel-foraging experience after which you’ll be invited to prepare them with the hotel’s executive chef; nature enthusiasts will be in their element during the fynbos and honey harvesting drive; and if you enjoy the splendid isolation of the vast outdoors, horse-riding into the fynbos will surely clear the cobwebs…
And to make your escape into the wilds super-memorable, the Secret Season package includes five-star accommodation in an eco-lodge (designed to blend seamlessly with the natural surrounds), as well as a smorgasbord of gourmet experiences, including sundowners on the rocks, a food-and-wine pairing with the lodge’s sommelier, and mouth-watering winter meals that can be enjoyed at the in-house restaurant or beneath the fairy-light-strewn boma.
Guests will also have the chance to join one of the chefs in the garden to hand-pick veggies for lunch or dinner, and learn about the different produce and the best time to pick or cook them.
Explore ancient coastal caves and forage for mussels with one of the knowledgeable guides before heading back to the kitchen to prepare them with an executive chef.
Take a walk on the wild side
Brace yourself for a guided 4×4 safari; hop on horseback for a field ride; or lace up enjoy a self-exploring walk along the reserve’s designated hiking trails and Milkwood Forest paths.
Guides will introduce you to many interesting facts about the different flora – or simply grab your own regional Field Guide (found in your suite) – as you immerse yourself in a world of unique species.
Toe Bee or not to Bee
Head into the veld with Grootbos’ beekeeper and learn about the fynbos hives and how golden honey is harvested, as you harvest your own Single Blossom Erica irregularis honey among thousands of busy honeybees.
These pink blossoms – Erica irregularis – are peculiar to the Cape Floral Kingdom and found nowhere else in the world. Take a 4×4 drive into this 2 500-hectare reserve, and learn about this key species, as well as this unique floral region, one of only six in the world.
It’s no secret that Grootbos’ breathtaking vistas, luxury accommodation, and unique travel experiences have been luring bold adventurers, nature lovers and wanderlust-craving travellers back to its lair, long after their initial seduction. But for those who have yet to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, perhaps Travel + Leisure’s editor Nathan Lump’s words will resonate: “[Adventure] is about doing something that feels different, and embracing the calibration between discomfort and excitement that comes from that” – which is precisely what Secret Season at Grootbos promises. This truly otherworldly location is where real-life magic happens…
Cost From R4 550 per person per night (includes five-star accommodation, breakfast, three-course lunch, six-course dinner, sundowners, a food-and-wine pairing, as well as several unique experiences and transfers to and from all activities.)
R9 100 (Luxury Suites; per two adults sharing per night; price dependent on season)
R6 825 (Luxury Suites; per single adult per night; price dependent on season)
R 13 650 (Family Suites; per two adults and three children sharing per night; price dependent on season)
R 75 000 – R115 000 (Private 6-Bedroom Villa; per one to twelve adults sharing per night; price dependent on number of guests)
R 75 000 – R105 000 (Private 4-Bedroom Villa; per one to eight guests sharing per night; price dependent on number of guests)
Where to find it Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, R43, Gansbaai