The beautiful private nature reserve of Grootbos is situated in South Africa’s Western Cape. It is just two hours’ drive from Cape Town and 30 minutes east of Hermanus. Travellers opting to self-drive enjoy a very scenic coastal route! The reserve has a private airstrip, so transfers via aeroplane and helicopter are possible too.
The word ‘Grootbos’ means ‘big forest’ in Afrikaans, and the name is inspired by the area’s abundance of milkwood trees. Some of the trees here are over a thousand years old and a spectacular sight, with their gnarled branches. The reserve also contains an astounding variety of fynbos, belts of colourful shrubs that merge to create vast flower plains!
However, forests and fynbos are not the only attractions of Grootbos. The reserve adjoins Walker Bay, famous for whale watching! There are a number of lovely coastlines along Africa’s southern tip, including De Kelders and Gansbaai. These are well worth visiting – and not just for sunbathing and splashing about in the sea! De Kelders is particularly popular with history fans, as it is home to Klipgat Cave, the discovery site of remains of Homo sapiens dating back over 70,000 years.
The history of Grootbos may be of interest too. The next findings in Klipgat indicate the existence of Late Stone Age people in the area, a couple of millennia ago. Known as the Khoikhoi, these people lived here until the age of the first European settlers in the eighteenth century. As early as 1673, Africa’s southern tip had functioned as a stop along the trade route between Europe and the Far East, and many of the first settlers were former employees of the Dutch East India Company. Coming ashore, they noted the potential of the region for farming and set up their homesteads. The land that is now Grootbos was granted to a Dirk Cloete on 18th April 1831.
Fast forward 160 years, and the land was purchased by the Lutzeyer family! By this time, the original farmland had been greatly reduced in size, to just 123 hectares. Michael and Dorothee Lutzeyer bought the farm initially as a holiday property. However, in 1994, they decided to open a B&B. This venture proved incredibly successful, to the extent that it was followed just two years later by the 11-suite Garden Lodge.
During the years since their original purchase, the Lutzeyers had been buying up further packages of farmland around the old site, so there was plenty of room for new accommodation! Garden Lodge was – and still is – a big hit too, such that Michael and Dorothee added Forest Lodge to the reserve in 2004. Unfortunately a wild fire swept through Grootbos hardly a year and a half later and much of the new lodge was razed to the ground. But the Lutzeyers began the rebuilding project the day after the fire, and under the direction of Tertius Lutzeyer, Michael’s brother, Forest Lodge reopened after eight months! The final entry in the portfolio is The Villa, which is widely renowned as one of the most exclusive properties in all South Africa.
Each of these three offerings has a distinct appeal. Garden Lodge, with its great range of things to do for children, not least spending time at the lodge’s own petting zoo, is particularly popular with families. Forest Lodge is a highly sophisticated property, ideal for solos, couples, and honeymooners. Last, but by no means least, The Villa is designed to sleep a maximum of 12 adults, in super-style! We recommend checking out our property descriptions – these contain information about the accommodation as well as the enormous amount of activities available. And if you have any further questions, please get in touch with a member of our team.
Over the years, Grootbos has won a number of awards, not only for the high quality of the accommodation but also for its efforts in conservation. The Lutzeyers are really passionate about looking after the reserve, launching the Grootbos Foundation in 2003 to set up programmes aiming to benefit the flora, the fauna, and the local peoples too. Every visit to the reserve supports the work of the foundation. You can even plant a tree!
Grootbos is an all-round amazing destination, highly recommended by YZ. Just contact us to start planning a holiday in this outstanding area!