Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Hermanus, South Africa
To be perfectly honest, I’m not very keen on doing hotel reviews. I’d use the word “hate,” but there’s far too much of that in the world already. So I’m sticking with “unkeen.” (That’s a word right?) Plus I’m not very good at it. I mean, what am I supposed to say? “Lovely view.” “Wi-Fi was fast.” “Toilet in working order.” As helpful as that may be, it’s not really what I want to write. Or what you want to read. There’s plenty of that on TripAdvisor. I like the offbeat, the unique, the one-of-a-kind. And that’s not usually found at the airport Ramada.
That’s part of the reason I started this series “This is Not a Hotel Review” — to showcase one unique thing about a property, that one special “whatever” that makes the place THE place. Plus it’s a way of getting around writing about working (or non-working) toilets. (Although for the record, I do harbour an odd fascination for weird toilets.) The bathroom pictured above does have a heated floor, so this particular accommodation does score big points for that.
The latest place to go under the microscope is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. To be clear, it’s not a hotel. It’s a reserve. A nature reserve.
Had you told me that I’d go to South Africa to spend time at a reserve with no lions, no giraffes, no rhinos, I’d have probably said you’re two monkeys short of a barrel. Isn’t that why people come to South Africa? Big Five bucket list check-offing? (That is a word too right?)
But that’s the unique thing about Grootbos — there’s plenty of activity that doesn’t involve the Big 5. And for those that want their animal quotient, well there’s plenty of that too.
The tangled trees lining the pathways make an ideal hideout for baboons. Whale watching and Great White Shark cage diving can also be arranged by the staff.
But it’s the natural surroundings that most folks come here for.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is smack-dab in the middle of what’s called fynbos — the natural vegetation of the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are varieties of plants and shrubs here found nowhere else in the world. It’s the smallest, and most diverse, of the world’s six floral kingdoms. And it sure is pretty.
Grootbos offers 4×4 “Flower Safaris” a couple of times a day for its guests — a great way to learn more about the rich diversity of the region.
And then there’s the food.
My God the food.
Everything is produced locally and organically, and much of it comes from the Growing the Future project — a Food Production and Life Skills College created by Grootbos.
Local women are trained to raise herbs, vegetables, honey, eggs, and pork that they sell back to Grootbos. You can almost taste the righteousness.
If you’re keeping track, so far we have: a nature reserve in the middle of one of the most diverse floral regions in the world that offers flower safaris and organic, locally-grown foods that provide much-needed jobs for the community. I’d say that qualifies as unique. How about you?
Note: I was a guest of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve during my stay in South Africa.