Xplorio Overberg


Short history

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve consists of 250 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langeberg region, close to Heidelberg in the Overberg. According to CapeNature, the land on which the forest lies was originally called Melkhoutskraal assigned to Roelof Oelofse in 1723. He was known as the ‘Groot Vader’, a title, subsequent owners inherited. The adjoining Boosmansbos was proclaimed in the early 1900’s and Grootvadersbosch was placed under the management of CapeNature in 1986. The reserve was designated a World Heritage Site in 2015, as part of the extension to the Cape Floral Kingdom Protected Areas World Heritage Site.

For the visitor

This beautiful reserve offers the opportunity to get out into the forest on day walks and mountain biking trails. For those who would like to stay over it has eleven cabins located on a ridge, with forest on either side. They were designed to have as low an impact on the area as possible. The views from the cabins are immaculate, some overlooking the valley and others the forest. Campsites are also available, all with forest views.

Plant life

The Grootvadersbosch valley is known for fynbos, the critically endangered Renosterveld and Afromontane forest. Afromontane means – from Africa (its plant and animal species are common to the mountains of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula). 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. Located in a transitional rainfall zone between winter and all-year rainfall regions, the vegetation is primarily mountain fynbos, with about 1200 plant species documented in this region. There are several rare species, especially amongst the Erica family: Erica blenna, E. barrydalensis and E. langebergensis.

Animal life

The reserve is home to two species only found in this particular forest, a subspecies of the forest emperor butterfly and a subspecies of the ghost frog. There are a host of bushbuck, grysbok, baboons and smaller mammals. Leopards are occasionally spotted. This is a birder’s paradise with 196 species recorded within the reserve, including the rare striped flufftail, Layard’s titbabbler, francolin, black and booted eagles and the beautiful sunbirds and sugarbirds.

The weather

The Langeberg lies in the transitional zone between winter and all-year rainfall regions. Grootvadersbosch has an average rainfall of about 1 050 mm per year. If you prefer the drier periods, you should visit the area between May and July, or between December and January. The windy periods are between May and July.

Grootvadersbosch Conservancy Trust

The Grootvadersbosch Valley is home to the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy which is a non-profit trust that works on private land to promote conservation. Members of the conservancy include long-standing commercial farmers whose families have been in the valley for many generations and who care about the lands’ agricultural and conservation value. They work together to keep these mutually-dependant elements in harmony. Today there are 19 members (landowners), covering an area of 35, 000 hectares. The conservancy is a vitally important conservation buffer zone to the neighbouring CapeNature-managed Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and Boosmansbos Wilderness Area.

The GVB conservancy has won numerous awards for their conservation activities

– including the Cape Fox award for best managed conservancy. The activities of the conservancy employ over 120 people and include the restoration of rivers, removal of alien vegetation, environmental education, fire management and ecotourism. The conservancy works with communities to create awareness about the species that live there, particularly those that are only found in this valley, including the Forest Emperor Butterfly, the Grootvaderbosch Dwarf Chameleon and the critically endangered Tradouw Redfin. Visitors to the area can enjoy over 120km of mountain bike trails that cross fynbos, forest and agricultural land. The trails were designed by real mountain bikers and include sweeping sections of single track with majestic views. The ongoing building and maintenance of the trails creates on going employment and skills building in the valley. The trail permits and maps are available at the GVB office honesty box and they are also on line at https://www.gvbconservancy.co.za/ride.html. Permits are R50 per person per day. You can also contact them to book your own private guide. To find out more about their activities: visit www.GVBconservancy.co.za.

The conservancy partners closely with the Silver Mountain Foundation (a non-profit that promotes arts and culture in rural areas) to organise the annual Silver Mountain Music Festival from 14 to 17 June. The festival celebrates music, nature and country living in the magical Grootvadersbosch Valley. The musical programme is coordinated by Richard Cock and this year includes Rocco de Villiers, baritone Bongani Kubeka, Percussionist Ronan Skillen and the Silver Mountain Festival Orchestra. The concerts are interspersed with fascinating walks and talks, linked to the agricultural and conservation activities in the valley. Full programme at: