Driving past the Overberg town of Stanford towards Gansbaai, it’s easy to miss the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. There are no grand pillars or a fancy arch to mark the turnoff to one of the world’s most responsible eco-tourism destinations, only a small, unassuming sign. The dusty turnoff leads to a short drive up a gentle fynbos-covered slope to one of the reserve’s two five-star lodges that have views across Walker Bay. Grootbos integrates understated luxury accommodation with a long list of environmentally sustainable and socially empowering practices. SA’s largest milkwood forest is on the reserve, as is Elim fynbos, which only grows on the unique soils between Walker Bay and Cape Agulhas. From the reserve there are uninterrupted views of the bay where dolphins play and southern right whales mate and calve. The coastline below the reserve offers some of the world’s best land-based whale watching. Owner Michael Lutzeyer and his family moved from Cape Town to the 2,500ha proper...

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