Horseback or Horsepower. I tried both at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

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There is much pleasure to be found in life’s simple quiet times. But then again, there is also a huge amount of fun to be had in the more adventurous ones too. As was discovered on one of my visits to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, where in the name of research, I took a horse to land and let it run. Actually, I took two horses, one of the quad bike horsepower variety, the other of the big brown-eyed silky four-legged sorts. Both made me very happy.

Horse riding on the reserve is included as one of the activities on offer during your Grootbos stay. With 2500 hectares of reserve to explore, it certainly is one that I recommend. Whether you are an experienced rider or would just like to take an hour’s walk amongst the fynbos, there is an enchanted magic to the rhythmic sound of the horse’s hooves on the ground, and nothing else.

The beautifully kept stables are home to 18 glorious horses with guides leading the way and enhancing the experience with their knowledge of the area. There are also ponies available for children. This is horsey heaven – and horse people heaven too. For the more experienced riders there is an opportunity to book a three hour beach-riding excursion to the Walker Bay Nature Reserve which includes the chance to fly along the waters edge with waves breaking underfoot. This, I’d like to do on a return visit.

Quadbiking on the other hand proved to be exhilarating in a completely different way.

I’ve done quad-biking a few times before on the sand dunes outside Swakopmund. The bikes there were smaller and automatic. At Quad Explore however, the operator that Grootbos outsources their quad-biking activity to; the quads are pretty grown up and have gears. My patient guide Francois van der Westhuizen showed me what to do, strapped a helmet onto my head and we ventured off to set the trail ablaze. Well, in my mind it certainly felt that way …

The challenging two-hour trail on the neighbouring property takes you through a section of Platbos indigenous forest, so named as it creates a flat canopy that protects from the elements. From there we proceeded to numerous look out points, before taking a rather rugged and rain scarred track down into the valley and then up to the top of Mount Dyer. The views from there are spectacular and it makes a magnificent sundowner spot.

We lingered here for a while taking in the view towards Dyer Island, Gansbaai and Franskraal admiring the fynbos and looking back with pride at the tracks that we had covered. It truly is magnificent and the power of the quads definitely facilitates access to areas that we would most likely not reach in a full days hike.

Strap me in please sir.
Stopped for a break along the way.
Taking in the views of the valley below.

Many people are a little against quads as when used by the insensitive thrill seekers there is often little respect for the environment. Yet here a privately managed trail has been cut through sensitive vegetation, you stay strictly on the path and always follow your guide. This is a protected reserve and it’s a privilege to spend time in it. Which makes it easy for Grootbos and I to endorse the activity.

Notes on the quad biking;

  1. Always wear a helmet. Even if its offered as an optional extra. One can fall off. I did.
  2. Listen to your guide, if he suggest taking the quad down a steep drop, let him. He’s the pro. I didn’t, hence the ‘I fell off’.
  3. Take your camera or GoPro to capture the beauty of the area that the trip will give you access to.
  4. Wear long trousers and a long sleeve shirt as even in summer, the fynbos is overgrown and you could get scratched. Especially when you’re zooming along at the speed of lighting towards the end, like I was. Wear closed shoes, a must.
    Don’t hesitate; ask whether this activity is available during your stay.
The hand that got mangled, isn’t this part of the fun. I once read that with girls who travel, for every flaw on her skin, she has an interesting story to tell. For me, these scars will be no different.

What an adventure filled day. And yes, it could be said that there is little that I would not do. Be it flying lessons, skydiving, primate and rhino trekking, scuba and free-diving or long walks in the wilderness. In my life there will always be an adventure series, as this is what brings me the freedom to be closest to nature.

*This post originally appeared on the Grootbos blog.

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