So where is Grootvadersbosch you might ask? We’d certainly never heard of it before being invited to join the team from the Warrior on Wheels Foundation to assess the Universal Accessibility of the accommodation and facilities at another of Cape Nature’s Reserves.
Grootvadersbosch is stunning! It’s situated in an indigenous forest between Swellendam and Heidelberg in the Langeberg region. The atmosphere and the views are absolutely beautiful. For those of you who enjoy hiking or mountain biking (or just relaxing and enjoying the beauty of nature), Grootvadersbosch has it all.
Our 3 hour drive getting there from Cape Town was made even more enjoyable by the rain that started falling when we got to Grabouw. It persisted all the way…in fact it rained the whole weekend! Under normal circumstances rain would put a damper on a weekend away (pun intended) but for us water and rain starved Capetonians it was a pleasure. 🙂
Our cabin at Grootvadersbosch was fantastic. Perfectly accessible from the undercover parking bay with a gentle, paved slope to the front door. The living area and kitchen was large and open-plan with an extension off the living room to an undercover braai area. We couldn’t use it though, as there’d been a fire in one of the other cabins and the officials were still trying to identify the cause. Fortunately there’s also an outside braai area…who cares about a little bit of rain?
Our bedroom was very comfortable and the bathroom (toilet and shower) was huge and perfectly accessible in a wheelchair. Cape Nature has certainly impressed us with their commitment to providing accessible facilities at their Reserves.
We once again shared a cabin with Richard and Ella. We hadn’t seen them since our weekend away at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve so it was great connecting again and catching up on news. There’s no shortage of conversation when they’re around! 🙂 Deirdré, Damian, Briony and Gouni-Mae shared a cabin next to us.
As much as we enjoyed the rain, it did restrict our movements and ability to explore the Reserve. We went on a short drive on the Saturday afternoon to have a look at access to trails and the bird hides. Very beautiful forest and tracks but definitely not accessible in a wheelchair. Pippa took a walk down the path towards one of the bird hides but turned back quite soon due to the wet and slippery conditions on quite a steep slope.
The Reserve has a large variety of birds and small animals in the forests but they must have been sheltering from the rain. We didn’t have any decent photo opportunities. We came across one small buck which crossed the road but it was very quickly hidden by the dense foliage.
We had a look at the facilities and buildings at the resort before going back to our cabin. The hall (conference centre?) has been built to accommodate wheelchair users with a ramp up to the building and a wheelchair accessible toilet. Unfortunately the path getting there has been neglected. Access to the path from the road is up a steep bank which is very difficult to negotiate. Maybe we missed another point of entry?
We had a braai on Saturday evening. It was really nice getting together with everyone. I was once again appointed as the braai master…maybe everyone had forgotten the burnt offerings at our previous braais? True to form, I left the meat on for a bit longer than needed. I didn’t see anyone choke or splutter though so it couldn’t have been too bad! 🙂
We had a final meeting with Deirdré on Sunday morning before packing up and heading home. Final thoughts and opinions were shared about the facilities at Grootvadersbosch for her feedback to Cape Nature.
As luck would have it, the sun broke through as we were leaving. On the strength of that Pippa and I decided to have a final drive through the forest and went on a loop through the Redwoods area. It’s not a track that I would recommend taking in a sedan with low ground clearance!
Besides a couple of very rocky and steep sections of the track, it’s also very narrow. Meeting a vehicle coming from the opposite direction would have been interesting!
Just when we thought we were getting close to the end of the Redwoods loop we rounded a corner to be confronted with a tree that had fallen across the track. There was no way around it and no chance of doing a U-turn on that narrow stretch. There was a steep embankment leading down to a stream on one side and a ditch and an embankment leading up a hill on the other. I started reversing. It was slow going and pretty hair-raising…in fact Pippa opted to get out and give some advice and direction to my steering. 🙂
Fortunately we soon found an area that had a bit of space on the side of the track to attempt a U-turn. With Pippa guiding me backwards and forwards I finally managed about a 12 point turn to get the car headed back in the right direction. As much as we’d enjoyed the drive, we decided not to attempt any more scenic loops and kept to the main track out of the Reserve.
We drove home via the Tradouw Pass and connected with Route 62 through Montagu, Robertson and Worcester. A lovely drive through a very beautiful part of the Cape.