|(The View across Walker Bay towards Cape Hangklip)|
|(The Eco Self Catering Villa, Luxury Accommodation)|
When asked if I would be willing to experience a wellness retreat focusing on Body, Soul, and mind therapy, including yoga and meditation, this required time to think about the concept. A place of sanctuary and retreat, where participants sense an authentic feeling of home-coming through a reconnection to nature, spirit, and humanity.
Well, that’s not my cup of tea, was the first thing that entered my mind.
|(Walker Bay on a picture-perfect day, the Klipgat Caves on the left)|
|(Gaansbaai has so much to offer, just make sure you have enough time to experience them all)|
Over the following days, applying my mind, not forgetting that it was my wife’s 50th birthday celebration, the idea slowly became more appealing. But, of course, the venue was also a deciding factor; Gansbaai has always been a local favourite, close to the sea, with ample birding opportunities as it borders two world-famous Nature Reserves.
|(Library in the Manor House, Step back in time, every this is as it was in the good old days)|
|(This is the view towards Hermanus from Grootbos Private Nature Reserve)|
|(Cormorants feeding in the glassy water of walker bay- the dark line centre of image)|
We were happy with the notion that this would be a relaxing weekend with some casual birding thrown in, we booked, and so the planning began. With a list of birds that we would be twitching for and a full itinerary of yoga and meditation, we set off to an area known as the Grootbos Nature Reserve.
|(Jackal Buzzard taking flight near Bodhi Khaya)|
|(100-year-old Cork Oak towering over the Manor House at Bodhi Khaya)|
|(Whimbbrel foraging amongst the kelp line)|
The Bodhi Khaya Retreat, located on the Baviaans Fonteyn Farm- the oldest in the area. In 1791 the farm was granted to Dirk Cloete, son of Hendrick Cloete, the owner of Groot Constantia and one of the Cape’s largest landowners. This peaceful establishment, nestled at the foot of the Witkransberg in the beautiful Overberg region. Only 2 hours from Cape Town the brochure promised us sanctuary for heart and soul- a place to relax, rejuvenate and re-connect.
|(Self Catering Eco Villa, Private and elaborate, we loved every minute)|
|(Sunroom where you can spend hours reading one of the many books available)|
Due to some concerns, having our accommodation upgraded to the Self Catering Eco Villa gave us a sense of excitement for the weekend ahead. Spoilt beyond belief as we were treated with five-star luxury, privately tucked away with breathtaking views. We had the opportunity to enjoy the safe and peaceful sanctuary of Walker Bay Nature Conservancy while witnessing the abundant bird and wildlife, taking in the mountain views, and drinking from the flowing freshwater streams.
|(Danger Point Lighthouse, built after the sinking of the Birkenhead a Mile off the coast as it ran aground)|
|(Cape Hangklip, image taken from Gaansbaai)|
Early morning start way before Sunrise for a meditation session allowed us to look for owls and nightjars. To my surprise, we located two nightjars(Fiery-necked) en route to the studio; what a great start to the day. However, I decided to miss this first session, heading off to Danger point, searching for the Roseate Terns (we dipped on the terns).
Exploring this unfamiliar coastline and relishing the opportunity for some new birding opportunities. Yoga and then a remarkable forest milkwood excursion allowed us to enjoy our new surroundings. Bodhi Kaya forms part of the Grootbos Nature Reserve, an idyllic setting with beautiful bird- song, flowering Fynbos, and ancient majestic Milkwood forests. So it’s not surprising that this area has received a UNESCO World Heritage site status.
|(The ancient Milkwood Forest is a must, we wandered through the cool forest canopy)|
|(We did say Rest and Rejuvenation, well we did stop as sit for a while)|
|(lush Fynbos in a full floral display, clear, clean air, and a magical view of the bay)|
|(Who could resist, we felt like tourists in Gansbaai)|
Another early start, we were treated to a flyover by the resident Eagle Owl, perching in a nearby tree gave us a moment to connect before he flew off in search of his next meal.
|(Cape Nature entrance to the Walker Bay Nature Reserve)|
Deciding to visit the Walker Bay Nature Reserve at De Kelders, we would see the famous Klipgat Caves and explore the area. Again, we were blessed with perfect weather, magical blue skies, and wind-still conditions, vastly different from the days before, freezing cold and windy. Another memorable, fun-filled day with the family, we were departing having experienced the charm of Gaaansbaai and the beauty of the Grootbos Nature Reserve.
|(Thanks to Cape Nature for the well-maintained boardwalks and very informative signs at the Klipgat Cave site)|
|(The size and scale of these caves were impressive)|
|(One of the cave Openings facing the sea, Is that a strandloper posing for a photo???)|
We would highly recommend Bodhi Khaya Retreat as a getaway; the area has so much to offer, backed with a picturesque coastline and breathtaking views across Walker Bay to Cape Hangklip. Just one word of caution, you will need more than a weekend to enjoy it all.
|(Enjoyment for young and old, a wealth of information and history of these Caves and the people who occupied them)|
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve hopefully will be our next destination when we revisit Gansbaai. We passed by this venue a few times during our stay, which we recommend to anyone visiting this remarkable area.
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