Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve was named after landowner Roelof Oelofse (1723), who was then known as the 'Groot Vader' (Great Father) of the region. Its original name was "Melkhoutskraal". This nature reserve is part of a World Heritage Site that includes large sections of indigenous forest. It has only been a reserve since 1986 and was declared a world heritage site in 2004. The wildlife includes lots of birds and small mammals. If you are lucky you might even get to see a ghost frog or one of the unique butterfly species.
I am not a skilled Voortrekker and my camping skills are limited to desperate survival techniques. Like screaming for help and running away. Luckily we were not on our own and the friends that joined us brought along an Infanta 4x4 Trailer with all the necessary gadgets. Grootvadersbosch has 10 camping plots fitted with a power point, light and braai spot. All facilities in the camping area were tidy, clean and a pleasure to use. The camp site even has a communal braai area with communal fridge. We spent two nights in this campsite.
The hiking trails include 2 easy-to-moderate day trails. We woke up "early" with gas stove coffee and started on the Bosbok Hiking Trail at about 8:00. The route passes through thick forest that reminds you of Knysna. The trail crosses the Duiwenhoks River, where we had a breakfast picnic.
On this trail they have "Tree Identification" spots where some of the trees are labelled. Birders have the luxury of two bird-hides high up in the trees. We passed a birder who showed us a Knysna Woodpecker. Quite exciting. Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve has 250ha of indigenous forest which includes ancient yellowwood, stinkwood, red alder and ironwood trees. Grootvadersbosch was once a forestry station and during this time many exotic tree species were planted here, the Redwood being one of them. Planted around 1907, these trees are over a 100 years old, making them a cultural heritage site. The tallest Redwood in Grootvadersbosch is 40m high.
The ages of the children in the group ranged between 5-7 and they completed the hike with ease. We reached the campsite between 11:00 - 12:00, spending quite some time at the bird hides and the picnic spot. I forgot my cellphone charger at home and could not use it to track our route. Blissfully quiet two days.
This was an awesome weekend that will be repeated soon. When staying here you can also enjoy some of the 120km of mountain bike trails at the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy that borders this nature reserve.
Gate times at the park are from 7:00 - 18:00. Later arrival times can be arranged with the main office. The surrounding area has plenty of other accommodation options. Grootvadersbosch has one self-catering cabin.
What to pack: Binoculars, camera, sunscreen, hat, comfortable walking shoes.
Where is it:
GPS: 33 5908.4 S 20 49 24.7 E
Gate hours: 07:00–18:00
Office hours: 07:30–16:00
Grootvadersbosch Tel: +27 (0)28 722 2412 Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190
Steaks, biltong, droëwors and nibbly bits: The Country Butcher