Summertide Diary: Nature’s Valley (Garden Route National Park)

22 – 24 December 2020

Located at the mouth of the Groot River, the small holiday town of Nature’s Valley is surrounded by the western reaches of the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. The town is connected to the N2 national highway by the Groot River Pass which makes for a magnificent drive as one descends through the forest canopy to the town below.

South African National Parks manages the De Vasselot Rest Camp, which offers two fully-equipped chalets, ten rustic forest huts and a camping area on the outskirts of town. Private holiday homes are available to hire in town where there’s also a small general store and restaurant. Several hiking trails traverse the forests and beaches around Nature’s Valley, and canoes can be hired to explore the river and lagoon.

We spent two nights at the De Vasselot Rest Camp at Nature’s Valley during our 2020-21 Summertide Ramble, arriving in the early afternoon on the 22nd and departing again late morning on the 24th of December 2020. Our chalet on the bank of the Groot River had a lovely setting from which we could wonder at the beauty of Nature’s Valley.

When the sun was out we enjoyed the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets from our stoep. When it was raining, the sound of the drops hitting the river and the quacking of the raucous toad beneath the deck combined to make a soothing lullaby, lulling me to sleep right there on the veranda.

We didn’t see the sun very often during our time at Nature’s Valley and couldn’t explore as widely as we wanted to due both to the very rainy weather and government restrictions imposed to clamp down on South Africa’s “second wave” of COVID-19 infections, and we’ll definitely have to return to remedy that. Still, there were many trails that we did explore in between (and sometimes during) the rain showers, and even walking in the camp and town proved very rewarding.

One of our hikes took us on a forest trail in the early morning, and we were hoping to reach a cliff-top vantage point overlooking the Indian Ocean. But we got lost in the forest. Thankfully we could trace our steps back after realising that we lost our way. And we could swing on monkey vines (yes, strong enough to hold even me!). And we got soaking wet after it started raining. And yet there was so much life to marvel at that the hike really was still more than worth the effort. The fact that we really do want to go see that viewpoint is just another reason why we have to return to Nature’s Valley!

 

Nature’s Valley location (Google Maps) Click on the map for an enlarged view.

 

30 thoughts on “Summertide Diary: Nature’s Valley (Garden Route National Park)

  1. Pingback: THE OTTER TRAIL 23 – 27 FEBRUARY 1990 – Something Over Tea

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That’s certainly the case, Tracy. Our Garden Route receives among the highest rainfall measured in South Africa annually, thanks to being wedged between the mountains and ocean causing a very wet, almost Mediterranean climate. Just on the other side of the mountains lie the Karoo – a semi desert – quite a mind-blowing and very interesting phenomenon driving from desert to rainforest within the space of 20-30km!

      Liked by 1 person

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Indeed yes – while our borders are technically open to all comers, many countries have travel bans imposed on South Africa. Thankfully we have a sizable domestic tourism market, especially during the school holidays and long weekends.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  2. H.J. for avian101

    This forest looks more like a huge garden. You have lots of flowers, fruits, gorgeous rivers, butterflies and birds. All forest should be like that! Thank you, D. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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