Originally known as Melkhoutskraal, the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve encompasses 250 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langeberg region, close to Heidelberg. The name translates to big father in honour of Roelof Oelofse who owned the land in 1723. It has only been a reserve since 1986 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004.
Accommodation at Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve:
Built and unveiled in 2016, Grootvadersbosch has 11 family/hiker cabins that are located on a ridge, with forest on either side. The cabins are arranged in two rows, with the higher cabins having expansive views of the valley, while the lower cabins look on to indigenous forest.
Built on an existing footprint, which used to be the site of the forestry staff accommodation, the cabins were made from reclaimed materials from the site, as far as possible, and are designed to have as low an impact on the area as possible.
All 11 cabins are 4-sleepers, with two bedrooms, a kuierkamer (inside braai area), a fully equipped kitchen, and a lounge with a built-in fire place. There is also an outside braai area at each unit.
Units 1-3 are built with Universal Access in mind (approved by CapeAble) and have garages, while units 8-11 also have garages (view the map below to see the unit layout).
Bedding provided: Yes
Towels provided: Yes
Electricity: Eskom, solar and gas
Kitchen equipped: Eskom power points for all appliances including fridge/freezer, microwave and toaster. Electric oven and gas hob with four burners
Braai facilities: Outdoor braai, and indoor braai in kuierkamer. There is currently a shortage of wood and charcoal at the reserve so guests are kindly requested to bring their own along.
Bathroom equipped: Shower only. Geyser heated by electricity and solar.
There are 10 camps. Each site looks onto indigenous forest, providing many opportunities for bird watching. Communal ablution facilities are offered, as well as a thatched communal braai area with fridge, and a childrens play area/jungle gym (no children to be left unsupervised). Campsites have braai facilities, but visitors should bring their own braai grids.
Sites available: 10 campsites
Power points: Yes
Ablution facilities: Hot water showers, toilet paper provided
Shop on-site: No
Firewood for sale: Occasionally. Bring your own to be safe as supply from neighbouring farms is sporadic.
Braai facilities: Each campsite has its own fireplace and there is a communal braai at the picnic area
Disabled access: No
Pets welcome: No
Activities at Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve:
Swimming is permitted in the Duivenhoks River. This is a 3km to 5km hike from the main office. Children should not swim unaccompanied by an adult. The swimming holes are located on the neighouring Brackenhills farm property, and we ask that guests please treat the area with respect.
There is a cycle trail of 6km on the reserve for all to enjoy with your own mountain bike.
On the adjacent Conservancy there are also a few MBT trails to ride. A seperate permit is however needed for those trails and is available at the Conservancys office.
Please enquire at our Information Centre for more information on the Conservancy.
Hiking and Walking in the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve:
There are a variety of day hikes as well as longer, overnight trails on offer. Regardless of the length of the trail, visitors should take heed of trail advice given, in particular the need to wear comfortable shoes, suntan lotion and a hat, and to carry sufficient water.
Hikers will enjoy the relatively easy three-to-four hour hike on the Bushbuck Trail, and also the more challenging Grysbok Trail.
Help us protect nature - No pets/no firearms/no picking of flowers or collecting of seeds/no fires except in designated areas/no horse riding.
Permits may be purchased for R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
- Do not hike alone.
- Carry enough food and water with you.
- Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
- Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
- Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
- Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
- Obey all signage.
- Stay in a group and on the trails.
- Please alert reserve staff once you have finished your hike, so that they know you are safely off the trails.
Trail distance: 10km
Estimated time: 3-4 hours
This beautiful route wanders through mountain fynbos and indigenous forest, providing a shaded and relatively easy hike for all ages.The route loops in and around the indigenous forest, affording hikers the opportunity to visit both bird hides in the forest, as well as taking them past most of the tree species in the reserve.
Trail distance: 15km
Estimated time: 5-6 hours
The Grysboksirkel is a tougher hike, taking you out of the forest-covered valley, up the mountainside through the fynbos area, and on to the ridge of the hills bordering the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area. The hike is a loop and will bring you back to the reserve road.
There are nearly 200 bird species that are regularly spotted in the reserve. Visitors should keep a keen eye out for black, crowned and booted eagles, the rare striped flufftail, the narina trogon and beautiful sunbirds and sugarbirds.
The forest area features two bird hides (pictured below) which are easily accessible via the hiking trails and provide great vantage points from which to view the many bird species in the nature reserve.
The first bird hide is located approximately 500m from the reserve road along the Melkhoutpad, and provides a wonderful view over the forest canopy.
The second bird hide is located a few hundred metres from the reserve road along Bosbokrand, or it can be accessed via the Bushbucktrail. The triple story structure is accessed via wooden stairs in the interior, and provides a view of the tree tops in the middle of the indigenous forest, allowing birders views of the many bird species in Grootvadersbosch.
Situated on the R322 from Heidelberg.