About Grootvadersbosch

This is the most significant stretch of indigenous afromontane forest left in the south-western Cape, with nearly all of the 35 typical forest tree species, including red alder, ironwood, stinkwood and yellowwood. 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. 


There are 10 camps. Each site looks onto indigenous forest, providing many opportunities for bird watching. Communal ablution facilities are offered, as well as a thatched communal braai area with fridge, and a children’s play area/jungle gym (no children to be left unsupervised). Campsites have braai facilities, but visitors should bring their own braai grids.

Sites available: 10 campsites
Power points: Yes
Ablution facilities: Hot water showers, toilet paper provided
Shop on-site: No
Firewood for sale: Occasionally. Bring your own to be safe as supply from neighbouring farms is sporadic.
Braai facilities: Each campsite has it’s own fireplace and there is a communal braai at the picnic area
Disabled access: No
Pets welcome: No


Visitors are welcome to head off on mountain bikes to explore the reserve. Cycling groups are restricted to 12 people and cyclists must keep to the well-marked routes. Please note that there are no bikes available for hire and visitors will need to bring their own. Permits can be bought at the reserve office (R40 per day).

Cycle Trail

Trail distance: 58km
Estimated time: 2 days

This challenging mountain bike trail passes through the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and adjoining conservancy farmland. This is recommended as a two-day trail with overnight stops. Permits are required for this route.

Visitors are welcome to head off on mountain bikes to explore the reserve. Cycling groups are restricted to 12 people and cyclists must keep to the well-marked routes. Please note that there are no bikes available for hire and visitors will need to bring their own. Permits can be bought at the reserve office (R40 per day).

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 R40 per adult and R20 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.

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 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.


From Cape Town: Take the N2 from Cape Town towards George. Just past Swellendam and Buffelsjag River, take the left-hand turn-off for Suurbraak/Barrydale. Turn left and 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

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 492 0001
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190

Features and Facilities

Sites available 10
Hot water
Nearby water Rock pools in the forest

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Map and Contact Details

Western Cape
GPS Co-ordinates:
S 33°59"5.0388', E 20°49"14.819988'
Telephone: 021 483 0190
Website: Visit website

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