Recently, our president,Undraa Buyannemekh, had the opportunity to travel to South Africa. Along with Buyandelger Ganbaater, our active adventures manager, and Buyantogtokh Munkhbayar, general manager of Three Camel Lodge, they embarked on this journey to experience new destinations none of them had visited before with the intention of learning from colleagues in the hospitality industry. At Nomadic Expeditions, we are constantly looking to learn new ways to improve our guest experiences, staff training and facilities.
Our team was very excited about one particular destination in their itinerary. They visited one of our fellow National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World members, Grootbos Private Nature Preserve, in Western Cape, South Africa.
Our team, over the course of their visit, experienced many different activities that the lodge offers, from hiking through the nature preserve to biking at the dunes. Our guide Jono, was extremely knowledgeable about the preserve’s fauna and flora, wildlife and culture and our active adventures manager Buyandelger (Buya) and Jono spoke about challenges and rewards a tour leader faces and the importance of training. “I especially enjoyed going on a flower safari, a botanical tour on a 4×4,” Buya reminisced.
This is a distinctive offering and great way to experience the Fynbos. “All guides in South Africa get specialized training in flora and fauna; they can name all plants, birds and insects by its scientific and common name.” Buyandelger marveled at the depth of knowledge they experienced.
Our general manager of the Three Camel Lodge, Buyantogtokh was thrilled that he met the chief carpenter, who created many of the furniture pieces at Grootbos, as we also make most of our own furniture at The Three Camel Lodge.
“This was the most amazing introduction to South Africa.” Said Undraa, our president, “It was inspiring to see how this lodge is making a difference and inspiring not only visitors who will likely choose similar lodges in the future for their vacation plans but also elevating the tourism experience in South Africa overall and inspiring other lodges around the world.”
Our team found Grootbos to be an awe-inspiring place and discovered its story matches its unique beauty. This property’s founder is Mr. Michael Lutzeyer. He and his family took interest in a small farm on the Fynbos biome. Michael had a vision of buying the land and preserving it and shortly after decided to build a modest bed and breakfast on the property. Little did he know- the property would grow to attract worldwide attention! This area is part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cape Floral Region is considered one of the six Floral Kingdoms and is the smallest and yet, most diverse.
Now with a luxury ecolodge and nature reserve preserving 2500 hectares (over 6000 acres) of land and wildlife, it is clear to see what attracts travelers to Grootbos. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has two lodges, Garden Lodge for families, Forest Lodge for groups and two private villas. This unique property, situated on a hillside where two oceans meet, is truly remarkable.
The Grootbos foundation, a non-profit organization was developed in 2003 to help preserve not only the local wildlife and plants, but also help better the lives of its human inhabitants. The Grootbos Foundation supports four early childhood development centers, providing for 175 children under 6 years of age. They also offer an incredible vocational training college which is in its 15thyear. The Green Futures college provides training in horticulture, hospitality and field ranger training. It also provides students who wish to work for Grootbos and the foundation to learn the skills needed. The foundation’s education program focuses on developing computer skills and small business skills such as writing letters.
Our team was fortunate to spend some time with Julie, who runs the foundation. It is very inspiring how the foundation has grown beyond the lodge. Julie told our team about a soccer program project that they do with the local schoolchildren and a relationship with a local farm that grows vegetables and sells back to the lodge. Our team also got to meet the scientists who do research work to study local fauna and flora.