My kind of wonderland, 4x4 flower safari.

Posted under Fynbos and Flora Blog by Dawn Jorgensen on 8th August 2013

Fun and Games in the Cape Floral Kingdom

An invitation to return to Grootbos should be embroidered in freshly woven silk and hand delivered by the gods. Such is it’s bearing and worth as it promises a return to warmth and luxury, beautifully crafted meals, fresh sea air, magical milkwood forests and whale watching. Which is exactly what was on offer during my recent visit.

As was a 4x4 Flower Safari on the Reserve.

Unlike the areas of this diverse country where Winter brings barren browns to the countryside, snow caps the mountains and the fields are found burnt black; at Grootbos Winter is a time of rainfall and rejuvenation. Wild flowers bloom generously and the Cape Floral Kingdom casts a colourful dye across the Reserve.

This is the season when the Fynbos (-fine bush in Dutch) draws full attention to itself and we weren't going to miss it. Our guide Chumani helped us onto the 4x4, kitted us out with ponchos and blankets to ward off the cool weather and we headed out on our Flower Safari.

Important to note that Chumani is no regular guide. I had the pleasure of a walk in the Milkwood Forest with him in February, and have never learnt more in an hour. He is teacher and entertainer. Raised by a grandfather with an interest in African herbs and botany, he has a deep love for the environment and it manifests in latin names, lessons in plant life, easy anecdotes to help remember and a sense of humour that warmed us on the open vehicle.

But then all the people involved at Grootbos exceed expectation in this way.

Up and over into the 2500 hectare reserve we ventured. The rolling hills and valleys gentle on the eye - a pathway just visible between grass and vegetation, herb and floral scents bouncing off the sweetened air, heavy clouds overhead. We stopped regularly to take a closer look at the blooms in flower and breath in the fresh air.

There are 765 plant species at Grootbos. 100 of which are endangered and 6 that are completely new to science. This knowledge all gained in a 15-year survey of the fynbos here. There is a wonderful book that you can buy - Field Guide to the Flora of Grootbos and the Walker Bay region. It offers all the information needed and serves as a valuable fynbos bible for a visit here.

In summary there are four families of fynbos - Proteaceae (Protea cynaroides), Ericoids ( Erica perspicua), Restioids (Elegia capensis) and Geophytes. But given that it was a Saturday, we settled for 'protea, ericas, reeds and bulbs'.

Close ups of the flowers in bloom.

Chumani teaching with laughter and passion. Magic mix that.

At one point we took shelter in an abandoned shepherd's hut for a while, remnant of the days when the Reserve was a cattle farm. Hot chocolate and freshly baked biscuits and we were ready to see more.

There was a cold soft drizzle throughout the drive, which brightened the scene as though a wet cloth and been brushed over the landscape. Further testimony to the fact that Grootbos is a dream destination with much on offer; no matter the time of year or weather.

(All Images are Courtesy of Dawn Jorgensen)

About the Author - Dawn Jorgensen

Dawn is a natural born traveller with more than a decade's experience designing dream holidays and taking many herself as The Incidental Tourist. She shares her experiences, photographs and anecdotes with others afflicted by the gift of wanderlust. Read more of Dawn's Grootbos Blog Posts, visit her at The Incidental Tourist, follow her on Twitter @DawnJorgensen or go to her Google Profile.

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