Neville and Nigel head to the Grootbos Resort to find out why this Resort is more than just five star accommodation. The resort nestles into the natural landscape- but this is no ordinary bit of coastal greenery.
Known as Fynbos (Phaenboss) this is the dominant vegetation of the Cape Floral kingdom. Botanists have classified this region of South Africa as one of only 6 plant kingdoms on earth because of the richness of the species and the high proportion of plants that are not found anywhere else in the world.
Not only does Grootbos offer breathtaking views, distinct local food, scenic hiking trails and horseriding, but Grootbos is involved in a number of ‘responsible tourism’ schemes that involve local townships, and aim to make a difference to those most disadvantaged by apartheid.
Grootbos has set up a scheme called Green Futures which has a school which every year takes in students from the nearby township. It feeds and pays them to attend school and teaches them horticultural skills such as plant propagation, gardening landscaping, as well as life skills such as how to drive a car and access the internet.
The school selects 12 students a year from around 150 applicants. The students not only gain priceless knowledge and skills but every single graduate has found a job, an extraordinary success in an area with 47% unemployment. The students’ weekly allowance is part funded by the sale of plants from the nursery.
This 1740 hectare private nature reserve needs a lot of help and attention to keep it thriving and the green futures students play an integral role in this work. Guests of the resort can contribute by planting trees which Neville did. You can even track the progress of his tree on Google earth! The coordinates of his tree are South 34 degrees, 33 minutes, 0.01 seconds and East 19 degrees, 24 minutes and 53.5 seconds.
The biggest and most visionary project is the construction of a state of the art artificial turf soccer pitch and sports facility with funding assistance from both international and local donors. The goal is to bring the white, coloured and black people together on the pitch to assist in getting this divided society playing and talking together.
Like many coastal towns Gansbaai’s economy was based on fishing but there has been a massive shift toward marine conservation as whale watching, shark diving and observing the hundreds of thousands of cormorants, penguins and fur seals have turned the area into a magnet for tourism.
Conserving the oceanic wildlife creates opportunities for tourists to have close up experiences with these fascinating animals. Another way to see the whales are from the air, and at Grootbos they’ve got their own run way. To find out more information, follow the links below.
PO Box 148, Gansbaai, 7220, South Africa
T +27 28 384 8000
F +27 28 384 8040
Tel: +27 (0) 28 384 8044
Fax: +27 (0) 28 384 8100
Green Futures College
Tel: +27 28 384 8059
Whale Watching: www.WhaleWatchSA.com
For more information and to start planning your trip, visit the South African Tourism website at www.southafrica.net