The specialist guides at Grootbos Nature Reserve are as colourful, diverse and entertaining as the fauna and flora which they bring to life to our guests with their witty commentaries and intriguing tales. The 2 500 hectare reserve is a smorgasbord of rare plant and animal species, ever-changing landscapes and spectacular views. Our professional guides accompany guests on various tours on the reserve and to sites of interest in the surrounding area. Coming from different backgrounds, cultures and schooling, they have one thing in common: a true love of nature and the outdoors, and a passion to share their knowledge and experience with our visitors. Professional, polite and with a unique style, each guide adds an individual quality and flair to the Grootbos experience - a personal touch and zest beyond mere service. An ordinary-looking tree gets new status when Clayton describes how ancient folks used its leaves for remedies or bedding. You will look with new eyes at a common snail and the moss, called lichen, on the Milkwood trees when Bongani explains, in his colourful, descriptive tales, how they contribute to the eco-system. Lead guide Kevin will enthrall you with his expansive knowledge and understanding of the biodiversity and ecology of this unique region.
They all know Grootbos like the palm of their hand and some of them even acquired their training and qualifications on site through the Grootbos Foundation's Green Futures training programme. The beauty and variety of indigenous fynbos and tree species are overwhelming, but our guides have a knack to describe each one in such entertaining terms that even a layman can identify and remember at least some.
Off-reserve tours include the magnificent Walker Bay coastline with its fascinating archaeological history and marine biodiversity, boat trips to view Southern Right Whales, the Marine Big 5 and the marine sanctuary of Dyer Island. Trust our guides to take you on a Tour de Grootbos that will make your head spin!
Below are some of the Grootbos guides and a little more detail about each of them!
Kevin - Lead Guide
The majestic wonder of the Western Cape has kept me enthralled since my arrival at Grootbos. I’ve been a bush person all my life, some of my earliest memories were of times spent hiking through the Drakensburg mountains with my brothers, so I was very excited to experience a totally different part of our country. My passion for creatures both great and small took me to the Kruger National Park where I started pursuing my interests in all things wild. The adventures of being a trainee guide kept me in the bush for 12 years- moving from the Kruger to Botswana and back again, the latter years guiding at Singita in the Sabi-Sand Game Reserve. Here I honed my skills as a manager too and with my wife, ran the Singita Castleton Camp for 2 years. Trading in tall brown grasses for the relatively flat fynbos shrub-land was a welcome change. The Walker Bay region, with it’s diversity of natural wonders, from whales and sharks to spectacular Afro-montane forests and fynbos flora will certainly keep me inspired for years to come.
I am Chumani Nyelisi, native from Eastern Cape where I used to be a Shepherd looking after the cattle of my father. Out in the veld, it’s the survival of the fittest, so for many years, my family has been using plants as both a source of food as well as for medicinal purposes. So it is from my hometown where my love and passion for plants has grown from. In March 2006 I arrived in Gansbaai and a few months later I heard about the Green Futures College at Grootbos. Fortunately shortly after submitting the application forms, I was chosen as one of the 12 students and started that year in August. I was so excited at that time that I decided to move to Gansbaai permanently. After having completed the course, it was my dream to become a guide. This for me was the only way I could share my passion with people and tell them more about my days as a Shepherd and the value of our floral kingdom. The opportunity the school gave me was amazing and it has given me the tools to be what I dream to be one day. At Grootbos, I love the botanical tours and sharing my knowledge on plants and also the African culture.
My name is Clayton Niemand, I`m 20 years old and have a special interest in Nature And Marine life, and it looks like faith decided that I should stay involved with nature. I grew up in Cape Town in the city and was never much involved with nature in any way. Four years ago I moved out of the city and went to a boarding school in Napier. This is where I was introduced to new subjects, Tourism being one of them, and a love for nature slowly started growing on me. After I matriculated, I decided to take a "gap" year as I did not know what to study. During my gap year, I went on an intensive 6 month guiding course. During this six months I did my practical at Grootbos. After completing the course, I heard of an opportunity at Grootbos as a guide, and did not hesitate to pursue it. Now I am here at Grootbos, and I love to show and tell guests things that they can remember and use when they are out in the wild.
My name is Anecke Valentine and I am one of the guides here at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. I have lived in Gansbaai my whole life, and in 2004, when I matriculated, I wanted to become a beauty therapist. This, however, did not work out, so I decided to work on my basic skills and did a computer literacy course in order to better my chances of finding a job. In 2009 I heard about the Green Futures College on Grootbos. I applied and was lucky enough to be one of the students to be chosen for the year of 2009. I finished my year very proudly, had lots of fun, and also had to work very hard. The highlight of the year of 2009 was when I was one of the lucky students to be chosen to go to the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. I spent 3 weeks there. I learned a lot and also enjoyed to see how different everything is from South Africa. I am a guide now at Grootbos and I love every moment of it. What I love about being a guide is that I learn to speak better English, get to meet people from all over the world, and enjoy being in nature every day!
My Name is Bongani, I am 24 years old, and was born in King Williams Town, Eastern Cape. I left my home town and came to the Western Cape in 2004 to finish my schooling. When I completed school, I found out about Grootbos’s Green Future College and that there I would have the possibility to further my studies and possibly get a job. I felt that it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss and was lucky to be chosen as one of the students to join the 2009 class. During my year at Green Futures, I learnt about all the different Fynbos species, the importance and value of our floral kingdom, as well as driving, computer and life skills. When I finished the course at the end of 2009, I joined the Grootbos Guiding division and worked as a trainee for 4 months. During these months my passion for the Fynbos and the job grew, and I was becoming more knowledgeable by the day. By June 2010 I was promoted as a senior guide and I am now to this day living my dream and following my passions. I love interacting with people and sharing my knowledge about the Fynbos and our ecosystem with guests. The Fynbos really fascinates me as it is so unique and has countless stories, which I also love sharing during my guiding trips and seeing the fascination on the guests' faces. I am very proud of what I have achieved and of how I came from merely having a schooling certificate to becoming a specialized Fynbos guide within 2 years, and I love sharing this story with my guests. That’s me and I’m looking forward to guiding you at Grootbos and sharing my story and the tales of the Fynbos with you!
The thing is: “Guiding is not a job but a lifestyle”. My name is Christoff Longland and I love my job. I come from a nature loving family and always loved to be in the wild, therefore I studied Agriculture to be out of the office. I worked all around the UK after my studies, but my heart longed back to sunny South Africa. Getting back to South Africa, I felt the need to give my hobby as naturalist a go. I had an opportunity to work as an Overland guide from South Africa all the way through to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe through Namibia and Botswana. It was an adventure, but I realized that I needed more knowledge and therefore I had to study. I was lucky to get an opportunity at Grootbos in 2005 and soon realized that guiding is my passion. Since starting working at Grootbos I have moved to guide in the Big 5, obtained my FGASA level 2 and Trails guide qualification and got married. My wife and I also took a bold move and settled in the Ukraine as teachers for a couple of years, but, the bush was calling once more and here I am back at the beautiful Grootbos. Grootbos is a magical ever-changing place from flowers to birds and the magnificent whales on the epic journey to Walker Bay. That is why guiding at Grootbos is such bliss to me. They say once you have been touched by Africa you will always return.