Responsible family travel with Grootbos Garden Lodge | Jumbari Family Safaris
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Responsible family travel with Grootbos Garden Lodge

Located along South Africa’s Whale Coast, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve offers a unique coastal getaway close to the Southern Tip of Africa. Grootbos Garden Lodge specializes in family travel and offers a variety of enthralling outdoor activities for kids on the property. From pony rides and whale watching to a botanical safari experience, Grootbos Garden Lodge is the ideal getaway for families traveling during South Africa’s whale season. An eco-reserve, Grootbos is dedicated to sustainable tourism and run a number of community, conservation and social development projects that families can contribute to. We caught up with Ruth Crichton, Communications Manager at Grootbos, to find out more about eco-conscious family travel to their lodge.


Family-friendly Grootbos Garden Lodge

01. Why is family travel important to Grootbos?

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is not only geared for family travel, it is a family travel product. The Grootbos Garden Lodge is our family lodge and we offer pony rides, frogging, a beautiful children’s activity room and adventures on site. Our dedicated guides are able to curate a family experience which caters to all members of the family.

Kiddie activities hope to inspire budding conservationists

02. What type of experiences do you offer kids in order to educate them on conservation and sustainability at Grootbos?

All our guests have a dedicated nature guide. On the botanical safari, kids learn about the unique fynbos vegetation and the conservation that takes place on the reserve. The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest yet the most diverse floral kingdom containing over 9 500 different plant species, with over 70% being endemic to the region and found nowhere else in the World. The botanical safari experience is a great experience for the whole family to experience together.

Other activities on offer are the option for guides to take children frogging, this often takes place at sunset with headlamps. Kids can also partake in a creepy-crawly entomology experience to explore the insect world. This includes looking at insects under a microscope and understanding the vital role insects play in our world.

 In terms of sustainability, kids love visiting our ‘Growing the Future’ organic farm, where they are able to collect eggs, see the organic kitchen waste fed to the pigs, understand our worm farm, see our candle recycling project in action and befriend our resident goats, Hansel and Gretel.

Marine safari experience during South Africa’s whale season

03. Do you offer unique experiences for families traveling during the whale season?

Most of our activities are offered all year round, but from June to November, there is the additional option of exploring the waters by boat for a Marine 5 safari outing. Guests are more likely to spot the Southern Right Whales in the bay at this time of the year. From September, the weather improves and there are more opportunities for sundowners on the limestone cliffs overlooking the bay.

Read our 5 tips of a whale watching experience in South Africa here.

Whale watching off the coastal cliffs at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

04. Why is ecotourism important to you?

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is a leader in what we call ‘Progressive Tourism’. We integrate the community, conservation and culture model into all our operational decision making. We are a founding member of The Long Run ( and a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, which requires one to adhere to strict levels of sustainability practices and measurements. Eco-tourism is important to Grootbos as it is integral to our very DNA and identity of who we are as a property and tourism product.

Early Learning Centres provide a nurturing space for local children

05. What are some initiatives being run at the Grootbos Foundation?

The Grootbos Foundation was established in 2003 and runs a number of community, conservation and social development projects. 

Some examples of the Foundation initiatives include the ‘Green Futures’ vocational eco-tourism college, ‘Early Learning Centers’ providing a safe, nurturing space for our under 6’s, a flagship sports project, providing safe, positive after school spaces where soccer, hockey, athletics, netball, rugby and canoeing training takes place. We have a successful entrepreneurship programme and some of our fledgling entrepreneurs have started their businesses in an around the area.

The work of the Grootbos Foundation now reaches over 12,000 beneficiaries in our surrounding local communities each year.

The vegetable garden at ‘Growing the Future’

06. And what do you think has been the most successful project so far?

The Grootbos Foundation has the benefit of having a 15-year track record. Our longest-running project is the ‘Green Futures’ vocational project, however, we have the benefit of many of our projects running successfully. This can be attributed to the commitment of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in its support of the Foundation. The Grootbos model is an innovative commercial model that supports community, conservation and culture, we call it progressive tourism.

“It is the right thing to do, to run a business that is inclusive, not extractive, not exploitative, and co-creates the future for our communities and our environment,” says Julie Cheetham, Managing Director of the Grootbos Foundation

Play sports with the students at The Football Foundation

07. How can guests get involved?

Currently, guest itineraries including the Foundation are created on a case-by-case basis depending on the guests’ specific interests. The ‘Living the Future Foundation’ tour is always on offer, taking guests around the Foundation projects. The ‘Growing the Future’ farm is a firm favourite as well. Other options would be for kids to play sports at the sports fields, or plant a tree as part of our reforestation legacy project.

For older kids, there is an interactive beekeeping experience, where kids and families are able to suit up and understand the world of bees.

Botanical safaris at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

08. Are there any big projects lined up for the upcoming year?

Our entomology project was initiated some months ago and is really coming into its own as the world is losing its insect world at a rapid rate. We have a specialised microscope allowing to see the details and adaptations of insects up close.

Want to explore South Africa’s whale coast with your family? Stay at Grootbos on our South Africa Marine & Big 5 Safari or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to curate your ethical travel experience with Jumbari Family Safaris.