“Off the beaten track” and “an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life” are phrases that spring to mind when leaving the tarred road and heading towards Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, near Heidelberg in the Western Cape. A welcome, accessible surprise awaits as you drive through the gates. Immediately there is a signboard indicating wheelchair parking at reception. A gently sloping ramp leads the way to a big, smiling welcome from the staff on duty and an interesting information centre, with an accessible bathroom available after a long journey, before heading up into the mountain to the cabins.
Parking & Access
Surrounded by lush forests, the winding drive from the reception to the cabins is a magical experience as you feel all your city cares whisked away on the breeze, through the trees and over the mountain into distant valleys. The first visible evidence that great care and consideration have gone into the 3 universally accessible cabins is the undercover, smoothly paved carport that is wide enough to park and exit your vehicle, with a gentle slope to the cabin door.
The parking leads directly down to the outdoor braai area and to a level entrance into the cottage through the open plan kitchen and lounge. The kitchen sink is open below, to allow access for a wheelchair user, and cupboards, fridge and stove are all at accessible height. The dining room table has a cut-away to allow a person using a wheelchair to comfortably use the surface. The lounge is spacious with stable mats that don’t present a hindrance at all. Leading off the lounge is a decked verandah, with tented sides that can be opened up in good weather, and an indoor fireplace.
The responses from our team members on seeing the fully accessible bathrooms, “You can swing a wheelchair in here” and “you can throw a party in here”, are testament to what it was like rolling into the bathrooms for the first time. A sliding door for ease of access, a basin with space to move a wheelchair beneath, toilet with grab-rails and both front and side access, and a roll in shower with shower seat, and an adjustable and removable shower head – it doesn’t get more accessible than that.
The main bedroom has ample space with removable bedside stands. Cupboards have no doors and are at accessible height. The second, twin bedroom, also has enough space to move between the two beds, though a bit smaller and not as easy to access the cupboards, though as the main bedroom is fully accessible, this is not a hindrance at all unless there is more than one wheelchair-user sharing the cottage and both bedrooms are required to be fully accessible.
Things To Do
We visited on a very rainy weekend, so it was a wonderful opportunity to relax and catch up with some rest and relaxation, enjoy some fireside conversation while dinner was being braai’ed. There are some beautiful forest drives, and for family members who are able to, some beautiful walks and two bird hides – which are not currently accessible, though Cape Nature do have plans to bring more accessible features into their reserves, so keep an eye out on their website and reserves for enhancements!
For more information visit their listing: Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve