Did you know?
Six new plant species, previously unknown to science, were found at Grootbos during a recent study.
When Michael Lutzeyer bought a farm near Hermanus in 1991, he had no plans for it to become the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
He also never foresaw it becoming an icon of responsible tourism. Now Grootbos has become an award-winning luxury eco-destination.
Lutzeyer dabbled in growing fynbos commercially. But the more he started to learn about this world-famous floral kingdom, the more intrigued he became by the delicate interplay between its many species.
The reserve’s outstanding scenery brought more and more guests and friends, until finally the Lutzeyers built five little cottages under the milkwood trees.
Over the years, Grootbos has become known as one of the foremost fynbos and botanical destinations in the country, combining luxury with an extraordinary commitment to plant conservation. It placed third in the Best Ecological Safari Property in Africa category of the Good Safari Guide's 2013 Safari Awards.
It may not have the Big Five, but Grootbos has no fewer than 765 species of plants in only 2800ha. The area suffered a devastating fire in 2006 – devastating for buildings, that is. Fynbos thrives on fire and nearly 80 species, previously unnoticed on the property, made their appearance after the heat activated the dormant seeds. The Lutzeyer family took the opportunity to rebuild, and the lodges are even better than before.
They have also gone out of their way to blend plant conservation with social responsibility.
Grootbos, which is certified by Fair Trade Tourism, has a number of upliftment projects. Green Futures is foremost among them. It teaches young adults how to propagate fynbos species, how to grow them and how to landscape gardens with them.
They are also taught life skills – taught how to drive, how to use a computer – while there is a focus on languages and mathematics too.
Dozens of youngsters have passed through this ‘college’ and all of them have found work in the plant world.
In other words, this unique and fragile ecosystem benefits by supporting the dreams and aspirations of young people, too.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)28 384 8000
How to get here
The closest airport is in Cape Town. From there, Grootbos is about 120km away – about an hour-and-a-half drive by car. Take the N2 highway towards Somerset West. Carry on over the Hottentots Holland mountains and then take the R43 turn-off to Hermanus. Carry on through the town, not deviating from the road. You'll pass the rural town of Stanford. About 10 minutes after that, you'll see the turn-off to Grootbos on your left.
Best time to visit
Fynbos flowers from August through November, so this is by far the most spectacular season. It's also a great time to see whales. But every season has something to offer.
Around the area
The Overberg, within which Grootbos falls, is one of South Africa's most scenic regions, with folded mountains, wide beaches and bright canola fields.
Tours to do
There is so much to do. You can do walks or drives through the fynbos, undertaking flower safaris with highly qualified guides. During whale season (August to November is the peak time), you can do a scenic flight over Walker Bay or see these friendly giants by boat. For more adrenalin, you can dive with great white sharks at nearby Gansbaai. Or you could head for the beach with its white sands and kilometres of open coastline.
What will it cost
Rates vary between approx. R1645 and R4450 per person per day, depending on the season and type of accommodation. They include all meals and all land-based activities.
Length of stay
Stay at least two nights. But there are plenty of activities and nearby attractions – you could easily spend five nights here.
Where to stay
You can choose between one of the forest lodges, the garden lodges or a luxury villa. All are very romantic. Grootbos is perfect for honeymoons.
What to eat
Grootbos has innovative upliftment project called Growing the Future. Women are trained in the art of growing vegetables and fruit as well as beekeeping and animal husbandry. Grootbos buys this produce, ensuring fresh, flavourful food on the tables (prepared by an innovative chef), and jobs and training for previously unemployed women.
Grootbos has brought out its own botanical field guide – a must for plant-enthusiasts.