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Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve

Map of Reserve area

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve encompasses 250 hectares of indigenous forest.

Where to Stay

What to Do

There are nearly 200 bird species that are regularly spotted in the reserve. Visitors should keep a keen eye out for black, crowned and booted eagles, the rare striped flufftail, the narina trogon and beautiful sunbirds and sugarbirds.

The forest area features two bird hides (pictured below) which are easily accessible via the hiking trails and provide great vantage points from which to view the many bird species in the nature reserve.


The first bird hide is located approximately 500m from the reserve road along the Melkhoutpad, and provides a wonderful view over the forest canopy.


The second bird hide is located a few hundred metres from the reserve road along Bosbokrand, or it can be accessed via the Bushbucktrail. The triple story structure is accessed via wooden stairs in the interior, and provides a view of the tree tops in the middle of the indigenous forest, allowing birders views of the many bird species in Grootvadersbosch.

There are a variety of day hikes as well as longer, overnight trails on offer. Regardless of the length of the trail, visitors should take heed of trail advice given, in particular the need to wear comfortable shoes, suntan lotion and a hat, and to carry sufficient water.

Hiking trails

Hikers will enjoy the relatively easy three-to-four hour hike on the Bushbuck Trail, and also the more challenging Grysbok Trail.

Help us protect nature

No pets/no firearms/no picking of flowers or collecting of seeds/no fires except in designated areas/no horse riding.


Permits may be purchased for R50 per adult and R30 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.

Trail preparation

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
  • Do not hike alone.
  • Carry enough food and water with you.
  • Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
  • Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
  • Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
  • Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
  • Obey all signage.
  • Stay in a group and on the trails.
  • Please alert reserve staff once you have finished your hike so that they know you are safely off the trails.
  • Please ensure that you bring along enough drinking water while hiking.

Bushbuck trail

Trail distance: 10km

Estimated time: 3-4 hours

This beautiful route wanders through mountain fynbos and indigenous forest, providing a shaded and relatively easy hike for all ages. The route loops in and around the indigenous forest, affording hikers the opportunity to visit both bird hides in the forest, as well as taking them past most of the tree species in the reserve.


Trail distance: 15km

Estimated time: 5-6 hours

The Grysboksirkel is a tougher hike, taking you out of the forest-covered valley, up the mountainside through the fynbos area, and on to the ridge of the hills bordering the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area. The hike is a loop and will bring you back to the reserve road.

There is a cycle trail of 6km on the reserve for all to enjoy with your own mountain bike.

On the adjacent Conservancy, there are also a few MBT trails to ride. A separate permit is however needed for those trails and is available at the Conservancy's office.

Please enquire at our Information Centre for more information on the Conservancy.

Please ensure that you bring along enough drinking water while cycling.  

Swimming is permitted in the newly-built swimming pool close to the self-catering cottages and also in the Duivenhoks River which is a 3km to 5km hike from the main office. Children should not swim unaccompanied by an adult. The swimming holes are located on the neighbouring Brackenhills farm property, and we ask that guests please treat the area with respect.

Please note that only 10 persons are allowed at the pool area at once and only 120 minutes are granted under the current lockdown regulation.

The reserve’s 250ha of Southern Afrotemperate forest is the largest remaining example in the Langeberg. The reserve’s highest peak, Grootberg, is 1637 metres above sea level. Most of the thirty-five typical Southern Afrotemperate forest are present, including stinkwood, yellowwood, red alder and the dominant ironwood.

Visitors to this beautiful reserve will relish the opportunity to get out into the forest on day walks and mountain biking trails. This is an excellent birding destination with more than 196 bird species regularly spotted. Hikers are likely to bump into bushbuck and spot baboons and smaller mammals when out on the trails. Sighting the Forest emperor butterfly and a subspecies of the rare Ghost frog would be the highlight of a visit here, as they can only be found in this particular forest.

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve has a magical, fairy tale quality, leaving visitors with the lasting impression that they have stepped into another world. Hikers walk in the dappled light of the precious indigenous forest, and swim in the cool tea-coloured river water while shaded by ancient trees.

Grootvadersbosch is one of the less well-known reserves in the Western Cape. For those who love its air of self-contained mystery, this is how it should be. Day walks, mountain biking trails, and the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area offer an array of challenges for those who want to immerse themselves in the Wilderness. A rare highlight would be a sighting the forest emperor butterfly or a subspecies of the elusive ghost frog, as they can only be found in this forest. Cape Nature offers a range of accommodation, from newly refurbished cabins to comfortable and well-equipped campsites.

Grootvadersbosch video and gallery images by Liesel Kershoff

What our guests say

To find out more, download the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve brochure and map below.

How to get there

Take the N2 from Cape Town towards George. Proceed through Swellendam and Buffelsjag River. Approximately 1.5 km after the BP garage (on the right side), turn left at the Suurbraak/Barrydale signboard. Continue through the town of Suurbraak and past the turn-off for Barrydale via Tradouwpass. The tar road becomes a dirt road. Continue till a T-junction, turn left and keep left at the next fork in the road. The reserve is well signposted. The road ends at the entrance gates.

GPS: 33 59 08.4 S 20 49 24.7 E

General Information

Office hours: 07:00–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 492 0001

Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: 087 087 8250


Self-catering accommodation from R980 per night and camping from R450 per night.

See Tariffs
Conservation Fees


Day Access = R50; Overnight fee = R40


Day Access = R30; Overnight fee = R20

Book Now
Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve Filming

With pristine indigenous forest, amazing Redwoods, and remarkable vistas, there are numerous opportunities for filming in this reserve.

Located just over three hours from Cape Town, near the towns of Swellendam and Heidelberg, the reserve is conveniently located for film shoots.

Find out more
Visitors Gallery
Events Calendar
4 Dec 2021
Virtual Penguin Palooza
26 Oct 2021
A Marine Safari webinar
19 Sep 2021
Eden Festival of Action 2021
15 Sep 2021
#Don'tBeTrashy Campaign

Other Reserves Nearby

Boosmansbos Wilderness Area
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Marloth Nature Reserve
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