Recently we were lucky enough to make a return visit to Grootbos as a family. This visit took place during the summer school holidays which made for a nice change since our previous visit was during winter! We were all looking forward to our two days in the paradise that is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (My kids had been asking when we would return within a few hours of our previous departure!) and it certainly didn’t disappoint us.
For this visit we arrived earlier in the day and were able to enjoy a leisurely lunch on the deck overlooking the gorgeous indigenous garden and all the way down to the glinting waters of Walker Bay. It was a lovely way to ease into life at Grootbos and certainly helped set the pace for us to enjoy a much slower way of life for the next few days and this visit came on the back of 4 days of camping so I was even more appreciative of the treat that is 5 star luxury!
As we had visited Grootbos once before I took it a bit easier when planning our schedule and made sure we had time to relax and just soak in the surroundings rather than rushing from one activity to the next. There is so much to see and do and I’m the type of person who hates to miss out on anything. (Serious FOMO issues!) Previously I tried to fit in EVERYTHING, this time I prioritized a few things we hadn’t done on our last visit due to the weather and also ensured that my kids had a ball… which is why my focus of this article will be the Top 10 kid-friendly things to do at Grootbos
So here are my Top 10 tips on Grootbos for kids!
1. Horse & Pony rides
This was a big hit the last time and once again pony rides proved to be the most popular activity, both kids wanted to sign up for every time slot available of which there are 3 a day! Older kids and teens can opt to go on an out ride around the reserve with more experienced guides or they can also just muck about in the stables helping out. It’s definitely one of the hot spots for kids staying at Grootbos.
2. Jungle Gym and Sand Pit (even a jumping castle)
Right next to the stables is the designated kids area which includes a recently installed jungle gym, sand pit and during our visit even a jumping castle, much to my son’s delight!
3. Petting zoo – bunnies, pig, sheep
The kids area is also home to the petting zoo where your little ones can get up close and personal with some pets… bunnies, a sheep, a few chickens and ducks as well as Emma the pig! Obviously the super soft bunnies were a big hit…
4. Swimming at the swimming pool
This time we visited Grootbos during summer which was lovely – we were able to use the pool and enjoyed swimming overlooking the beautiful scenery esp as my youngest is just leaving behind the waterwings!!
5. Cave exploring and beach walk at De Kelders
This is a bit of a cheat as we went on this outing during our last visit but it was something my kids really enjoyed and we will certainly do it again with them… The walk down to the caves is via a number of stairs but it is well worth a visit. I’d often heard of these caves and seen programmes on TV about them but without a guide they can be a bit tricky to find. I’m so glad we had Jo leading the way for us to go cave exploring! What a cool place to show our kids… to think that other little kids lived there thousands of years ago! We also loved the opportunity to take some unique family photographs. Afterwards we took a stroll along the nearby beach where Jo showed us the natural spring that flows out onto the beach from beneath the rocks – no need to bring fresh water along for your walk, just an empty bottle!
6. Flora safari and learning from the guides
Taking a trip on a safari vehicle can be hugely exciting for those little ones who have never been on one before. We enjoyed the 4 x 4 flower safari outing as a family as it gave us an opportunity to see more of the reserve and learn about the flora of the area while enjoying the stunning views across Walker Bay. My son loved sitting up front and enjoyed getting to know our guide and asking lots of questions. It’s probably better suited to slightly older kids and might be worth asking for a shorter version of the usual 2 hour tour but it is beautiful and exposes kids to another element during their stay.
7. Animal, Insect & Bird spotting
While staying at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve one might be disappointed to not encounter wild animals BUT the truth is that although the Big 5 do not make their home here there are plenty of other opportunities to discover the fauna. All along the paths walking to and from our room we discovered lizards and turtles, insects and chameleons, butterflies and bees and so many birds! The bushes are buzzing with life. If you are visiting with teens or older kids (and brave enough) you might consider a boat trip to encounter some of the Marine Big 5 such as Great White Sharks or Southern Right Whales!
8. Picnic on the beach
Visiting in summer made for a great change and we enjoyed taking advantage of the activity options that required sunshine, one of them being the lunch time picnic on the beach! We were driven down to a very beautiful little bay in De Kelders along with a blanket, umbrella, drinks and a packed lunch for each of us (including prawn salad starter and steak wraps). The kids loved being on the beach, jumping waves and collecting shells and it is a great outing esp as you don’t have to think about much more than just wearing a swimming costume…. the perfect beach picnic if you ask me (or any other mom for that matter!)
9. Kids activities
As we visited in the school holidays there were some great kids activities organised that my two were keen to take part in. These included an early morning trip to the farm on the property to collect eggs for our breakfast, an educational visit to the beach and an afternoon treasure hunt. It was great to know that they were having fun and being taken care of while we could spend an hour or two relaxing and reading! As parents this was probably one of our favourite “Things to do with kids at Grootbos” 😉
10. Kids room with games, puzzles, dstv, dvd’s, foos ball, pool table
The kids play room located just off the reception area and near the restaurant had been a huge hit on our last visit – for both the kids and the parents! It had allowed us to dine in peace (with a few interruptions), pretty awesome for those parents who don’t get to eat out much! This kid-friendly room is equipped with a large screen tv and a dvd player plus a variety of movies to choose from. There is also a foos ball table and pool table plus an assortment of puzzles, games, books and toys to keep them occupied all while being taken care of by the lovely staff of Grootbos. The kids meals were served in this room too and as we were there during the school holidays there seemed to be quite a few more kids than on our previous visit which was great as my kids had friends to play with and they all enjoyed eating their meals together esp on pizza night. Other options for kids were chicken nuggets, fish fingers and steak with chips and veggies.
After this list you might be thinking Grootbos is purely for the kids BUT I have to assure you that Grootbos is pretty cool for parents too!
One of my favourite aspects of spending time in these tranquil surrounds is the silence. So much space can do that! Without much effort your brain begins to focus on the sounds one often misses in everyday life – a bird call, a cricket chirp, the wind through the trees – these are the sounds we are meant to hear on a daily basis!
The ample accommodation in our private suite was another treat. Our room was huge with a lovely view over the milkwood forest down to the sea. A firm favourite of mine was the magnificent “bath in the bush” (well, almost, it was indoors but completely surrounded by windows so felt like you were right in the bush and under the stars!) And our little patio set amongst the trees was the perfect spot for a couple of sundowners before making our way up to the main lodge for dinner.
Another highlight of our stay at Grootbos is always the delicious food, always something new and interesting to try out with the most amazing combination of flavours, colours and textures. Each dish was worthy of an Instagram! Some of the evidence…
We loved every minute (and every taste) of our time at Grootbos!
Images: Kathryn Rossiter