Fynbos Flower Safari at Grootbos

Posted under Fynbos and Flora Blog by Grootbos on 14th July 2011

4x4 drive along one of the various sightseeing routes on Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is like an adventure in an exclusive game resort. Except in this case, our backdrop was the spectacular Duynefontein Mountains on the one side and the endless Atlantic Ocean on the other. The "game" in this case was the exquisite variety of indigenous fauna and flora and the Marine Big 5 which our entertaining guide, Clayton, took great pains in describing, demonstrating and explaining to us.

My partner and I booked the trip the day before (whilst sipping the traditional welcoming champagne after arrival) on the balcony at Grootbos Forest Lodge. I must admit this combination of bubbly and breathtaking views on the entire coastline from Franskraal right up to False Bay in the distance had me hooked from starters! Awesome!

We departed at 10h30 with two other couples - not knowing WHAT to expect and putting our trust and lives in the hands of the charming Clayton, (who, by the way, is so eager to inform and please his guests that he constantly forgets the vehicle's keys in the lobby!) :-)

The variety and diversity of flowering Fynbos species and birds en route to the mountain top was too overwhelming (for a mere layman) to remember them by (Latin!) name, but Clayton's enthusiasm and imaginative descriptions made at least SOME of them stick : The graceful jackal buzzard gliding in the air; the orange-breasted sugarbird that pollinates the various species of erica with its long beak; the butcher bird that hangs its prey (flies) on trees to dry like biltong; the wild dagga plants that is smoked to cure epilepsy; the helichrysum or "bushman bedding" with its distinctive smell which ancients folks allegedly used as bedding to keep mosquitoes away, and many more.

The drive along the rugged mountain road was an exhilarating experience by itself. The fresh sea breeze mingled with the intoxicating scent of wild flowers and foliage under a clear blue sky is an awesome experience. Add to that the spectacular views on sea and outstretched farmlands from different angles and one truly feels like Alice in Wonderland.

Clayton's keen eye often spotted a wild animal such as a grey mongoose or buck along the way. Common plants like the bietou bush, tolbos and gonnabos were regarded with new respect thanks to Clayton's interesting stories about their origin. The flowering wild malva, pink and red ericas and proteas dotted between the luscious green foliage creates a beautiful mosaic landscape. More than 765 of the 2 500 floral fynbos species found in the Cape Floral Kingdom have been recorded on this 2 500 hectare reserve, and many more are still to be discovered.

As we got closer to the summit of the mountain, the vegetation changed and the beautiful erica's, of which there are 24 different species, dominated the scene. The panoramic view from the top of the mountain is a sight to behold. Whilst enjoying cold juice and snacks which Clinton provided, we parked ourselves on the rocky outlets and feasted our eyes on the breathtaking view over the entire coastline as far as the eye can see.

It is a WOW experience, best described by the Carpenter song : "I'm on top of the world, looking down on creation . . ."

Grootbos recently had a great article written on our flower safaris by the Guardian UK, you can read it here

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