On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to enjoy the breakfast spread – the usual cereals, fruit and yoghurt plus muffins, croissants, salmon, ham, cheese & biscuits (my 3 year old was particularly excited about the endless supply of savoury biscuits!) This was all followed by a choice of hot breakfasts – I decided to put mine on hold until later in the morning (breakfast is served until 11 – bliss if you’re not a morning person!) to head off on a horse-ride with my 6-year old son.
We got kitted out with our riding hats and horses and off we went for a leisurely horse-ride through the fynbos. After my fears about being rained out, the weather performed magnificently and we were treated to the most beautiful morning. Nothing beats spending time in nature – soaking up the sights, sounds and smells – and doing this from horseback was amazing. After our ride we headed back up to enjoy our hot breakfast. I chose the Grootbos Benedict and Ben tucked into some flapjacks with bacon and honey. While we enjoyed our second breakfast of the morning my husband took the 3 year old off for a pony ride, she had wanted to just sit on the pony but the wonderful stable manager, Sam, actually took her for her own mini-ride. The smile said it all!
My favourite thing about Grootbos is…. mostly everything – Ben, age 6
A 2 day stay at Grootbos meant packing in as much as possible and so we set off on the Fynbos 4×4 trip – albeit for 1 hour and not the usual 2 in case the kids lost interest. Surprisingly, they thoroughly enjoyed the bumpy ride. Our guide, Chumani, was so lovely and very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area – we loved learning from him and I almost wish I had been on the longer tour to gain more info from him. Fortunately I was gifted a lovely field guide book that lists all the plants of the Walker Bay region so will be ploughing through that to get more info!
At this stage it was mid-day sleep time for our littlest family member so we went back to our room to recharge. The little princess took over the huge bed and made herself very comfortable amongst the pillows. The rest of us chilled out on the deck and soaked up the sun…
Lunch was next on the menu and we certainly didn’t want to miss out so headed back to the communal deck area to top-up our tummies! The buffet table had a lovely selection of salads and we then could choose from 3 lunch options. I chose the beef and mushroom wrap which was delicious.
After lunch it was time for our next activity – a pared down version of the social responsibility tour with Chumani. We discovered more about two programmes that Grootbos has started namely Green Futures and Growing the Future. Both these programmes are helping to uplift the local community, with a view to helping them to establish their own businesses or obtaining employment – a first in South Africa. The students receive free transport, tools, uniforms, study materials and 2 meals a day plus a stipend to cover their living costs. and funds are generated through plant sales at the indigenous plant nursery, as well as a fynbos landscaping business. As a guest at Grootbos, you can visit both the projects and buy plants and produce from them. Duane Lewis, the Head Chef at Grootbos, actually has to buy his ingredients from the project too!
One of the activities that I signed up for immediately upon arrival was the Cave Tour at De Kelders. I had heard about the Klipgat Caves, where some of the earliest homo sapien remains in the world have been found, and I was really keen to see them for myself – and I hoped the kids would find it educational too! Our guide Jo drove us to De Kelders at 4pm and we arrived at the top of the cliff overlooking the beautiful beach and 180 stairs!! We had been warned about the stairs and almost didn’t take the little one, but boy are we glad we did. What a great time we had – the caves are so interesting, the first seafront penthouse in the world – just mind-blowing to think how far back that space had been occupied.
Our guide helped us to pose in a variety of ways on a little ledge in front of one of the “cave windows”. Aren’t these fun?
Before leaving our guide showed us the fresh water spring coming up through the sand onto the beach – the exact reason why the Khoi San had made this spot their home. We sipped it straight from our seashell shot glasses and then clambered up the stairs to watch the sun set over the sea! Stunning!
At this point I must mention the amazing staff at Grootbos – each and every person we dealt with from the receptionist, to the waitress, to the barman, guides, stables staff, hosts and GM were lovely – welcoming and warm and always very helpful when we needed to change the timing of our activities to suit the kids or wanted to have a last-minute activity added to our schedule. Nothing was too big a problem. The service was truly 5-star!
Once again it was time to eat dinner – and we took full advantage of the kids room yet again! As was to be expected the meal was amazing and we enjoyed each mouthful not knowing when our next 6 course meal would happen…
Out of interest this is what our menu looked like:
Poached prawn & avocado tian
Local cheese soup
Soup of the day
Hot and sour Tom Yum Soup
Braised Pork Neck with butter puree & sour apple chutney
Seafood potage with broccoli & cauliflower florets
Polenta Disk with crisp asparagus and goat’s cheese fondue
Chocolate torte with Chantilly cream
Vanilla Brulee with short bread
Selection of cheese with homemade copote
Salivating yet?? The pork neck was not something I ordinarily would have ordered but it sounded interesting so I gave it a bash and wow I’m so glad I did. It was out of this world!
After such a busy day we were shattered and an early night was in order (well 9pm early!), spending so much time in the fresh air enjoying the peace and tranquility certainly takes it out of you! Plus, we wanted to squeeze in another horse ride in the morning which meant a fairly early start. We were treated to a fold down service complete with little bottles of Grootbos spring water and another raging fire, and sweet little penguin keychains for the kids to remember their holiday by!
In case you missed the account of our first day at Grootbos click here.
Disclosure: I enjoyed my stay as a guest of Grootbos but received no other remuneration to write this post and all opinions are my own.
Images: by Kathryn Rossiter