Nature and Whales
When I first heard that I was going to be staying at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, one of the 'National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World', I was extremely excited - I began researching and asking the specialized consultants in our office everything about any personal experiences they may have had or heard of.
At the time, I only got as far as finding out that there are two different lodge options one can choose from when staying at Grootbos, the Garden Lodge and Forest Lodge. After much thought, we decided that Forest Lodge was more our type of breakaway and definitely the relaxation we were after (as Garden Lodge is the child-friendly lodge).
Finally the day arrived, we were packed and ready to hit the road! The short two hour drive from Cape Town was absolutely beautiful with so many places and things to see along the way (like the beautiful Clarence Drive via Rooiels and Kleinmond). However, with all of our excitement building up, two hours felt like two days and although we knew exactly how to get there, we drove the entire way with my phone open on its GPS map to countdown the minutes until we arrived. Once the countdown reached zero, we found ourselves at a big boom with friendly faces guiding us in the direction of the parking lot.
From the moment we stopped the car, we were greeted by our guide, Jo, along with many other staff who all knew our names and showed a real keen interest in getting to know us. We were lead inside where we received our second welcome with warm scented hand towels and refreshments. The views from the Lodge caught my eye immediately, the vast fynbos met by the ocean in the distance, the beauty of it was unreal. Before planning our weekends activities with Jo and checking into our suite, we sat down for a light lunch to soak in the beauty that surrounded us.
The variety of food offered at Grootbos is completely out of this world, from the flavours to the presentation, finding a flaw in any of their meals just wasn't possible. The hardest part of every meal was knowing that we were going to be there for just two days - this of course made selecting each meal exceptionally difficult. We decided we'd each order something different and share our meals, to taste as much as possible and of course get all these great pictures for you guys.
After lunch we were showed the way to our suite. This was a probably one of my favourite moments - to reach the suites, you find yourself entering a dense forest with trees surrounding you, making you feel as if you’ve just entered a fairy tale world, it’s truly a magical experience.
Once we arrived at the suite, before walking in the front door, I knew I needed to have my camera ready for what was about to come. The attention to detail in the room was phenomenal, the view, the bath, just wow! I won't speak too much about this - I'll let the video and pictures below do the talking for me.
During our time at on the reserve, we didn't want to miss out on anything, therefore we took part in almost all of the activities that were offered, including a 4x4 safari that taught us about the fynbos in the area, daily horseback rides up the hills of the reserve to watch the sunset on the ocean, guided forest walks and a 'Living the Future' tour. The 'Living the Future' tour took us a little away from the lodge to the end of the property on a small farm where we were shown all the great things Grootbos is doing to increase their eco-footprint on the environment and community. The farm recycles almost everything, food waste is kept and used for fertilizer and candles from dinner are kept, melted down and rewicked for the next nights dinner. Most of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs and even the honey used at the lodges all come from the farm. It was so great to see how a lodge is able to influence the area by creating jobs and working towards a healthier and clean environment. Well done to the entire team at Grootbos!
Our stay with Grootbos Private Nature Reserve by far exceeded all the expectations of a 5 star lodge. There's something so special about this place that everyone deserves to experience at least once in their life time.
Sadly, Sunday arrived and it was time for us to pack up and say goodbye to all the wonderful people we had met and befriended during our stay.
Although saddened by our departure, we were very excited for what was to come next, we head on down to The Great White House where we met with Gretha and her team from Marine Dynamics.
Today is the day we knew we were going to see a whale up-close for the first time!
I had heard wonderful things about Marine Dynamics and their 5 star service provided throughout the entire trip. Upon boarding the ship the crew was extremely helpful, assisting each person with a comfortable spot to sit and ensuring everyone was safe before ‘launching’ the boat. The weather was not entirely on our side, the swell was coming in and the wind about to start, but there was no way that we were going to let that stop us from going out and finding a whale!
We launched at 10.00am, heading towards Dyer Island. Luckily for us, en-route, we came across a Sun Fish and a lone Southern Right Whale. As you can imagine, I was very excited about this! He followed us around for a while making the occasional appearance from his dives as we continued to Dyer Island to see the seals up-close catching some sun rays from the rocky island. After two hours of seeing such a wide variety of marine life, we begun heading back with a stop over at the shark cage diving boat, unfortunately, we didn't stick around long enough to see a Great White Shark, but we did get to see a very brave seal breach the water and put on a show. The crew aboard the boat were incredible - when the waves began splashing up the side of the boat, they immediately jumped in front of everyone, creating a human shield to prevent passengers from getting wet; They assisted those that felt sea sick, with great tips and mints to distract the mind. Overall, the experience was as described 5 stars!
A big thank you to everyone that made our stay such a wonderful experience!