The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, named in 1723 after landowner Roelof Oelefse, who was then known as the 'Groot Vader' (Great Father) of the region, is part of a World Heritage Site that includes precious indigenous forest, scores of unusual birds and small mammals, a ghost frog and a unique butterfly.

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Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve has been managed and run by Cape Nature since 1986.


Expect great indigenous forest trees, uncommon forest birds and small mammals such as the ubiquitous bushbuck when you go deep into the Western Cape's Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve.

If you're really lucky you might even spot the endangered flat-bodied Cape ghost frog (Heleophryne purcelli) clinging to a rock in a fast-flowing stream, or the unique forest emperor butterfly (Charaxes etesipe tavetensis).

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site, lies approximately 22km northwest of the lovely little town of Heidelburg, the western gateway to the Garden Route.

You can stay on the edge of the reserve in the comfortable self-catering Scolopia cabin belonging to Cape Nature, or in a friendly neighbouring B&B, then prepare to explore.

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve includes a 250ha strip of pristine indigenous forest – the most important in the southwestern Cape – home to ancient yellowwood, stinkwood, red alder and ironwood trees. Walk along one of 3 easy-to-moderate day trails or pedal along one of many mountain bike routes.

The Bosbok Trail takes you through thick vegetation and across the Duiwenhoks River. On a hot day, take a dip in the pool where the trail meets the main tributary.

On the Fonteintjiesbos Trail you’ll encounter a waterfall, and on the Grysbok Trail you’ll hike through fynbos in the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains and get great views of the surrounding countryside.

Birders can roost in two different blinds and start ticking off up to 200 species, including endemics such as the Knysna woodpecker, Knysna and Victorin’s warblers, the forest canary and Cape siskin. Not endemics, but still mega-ticks, are the majestic Crowned eagle and South Africa’s only trogon – the colourful Narina trogon.

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