Kent’s Family Travel in South Africa: Gaansbai

July 11, 2012  By: Rob Howard

Gaansbai sits perched on a cliff on the whale coast, part of South Africa’s famous Garden Route. Grootbos Private Reserve sits nestled into the fragile and unique fynbos, a plant ecosystem that is as beautiful as it is fragile and increasingly rare. Grootbos protects this area and enables visitors to experience 5-star, eco-friendly luxury.

Grootbos is split between two main camps, Forest and Garden, the first being slightly newer and more modern and the latter more cozy feeling with liberal use of natural woods. Both offer a comfortable bar area and warm dining room, complete with fireplace and candles. Forest takes adult guests only while Garden is open to families and even has a whole game/video room for younger guests. Our boys would have been happy to spend the whole stay in there, playing pool and foosball and watching Spiderman movies. Instead, we took a nice hike through the forest, finding bushbuck tracks and moth carcasses along the way. Later, we enjoyed a delicious 4 course dinner and returned to the rooms to enjoy a warm fire and good night’s sleep.

The next morning, we had them up at the crack of dawn for breakfast, followed by an 8 a.m. nature hike to learn about the indigenous species like slow growing milkwood trees and the greater fynbos. We also planted a tree to help the forest survive into the future. Grady (8) and Tate (7) did the digging so they got to name it and picked the dignified name, Bubby Ketchup, located at GPS coordinates South 34.32’36.1 East 19.24’49.8. Since milkwoods grow so slowly, you should be able to watch its progress for the next couple hundred years by tracking GPS coordinates 35.23.23.

Grootbos has a great animal nursery for the kids, complete with chickens, bunnies, a miniature horse 4 feet tall and a very fat pig. It sits next to the stables, full of healthy, well-cared for horses available for riders both novice to expert. We took a morning ride on which the staff helped the boys along since the horses are pretty large for young kids.  More experienced riders can do much longer rides, including galloping along one of the nearby beaches.

The beaches here are some of the most dramatic in the world. Sharp rocks, huge cliffs and crashing waves are par for the course here and it quickly became easy to take the spectacular scenery for granted.  And the dramatic beaches continued as we headed west toward or last destination, the mother city of Cape Town.