Tsitsikamma National Park – Nature’s Valley

I’m taking a short break from posting about Iceland; an interlude, if you will.

During the past couple of weeks, I have been getting to grips with my photos: I have been cataloguing like crazy.  It turns out that since mid-2009 I have taken nearly 14,000 photographs.  And that’s with only three cameras; I haven’t included the photos taken on older camera models during this time period…Hmmm… It’s getting a little hectic.

Despite having Lightroom 3 installed on my computer for over a year, it has taken me too long to really reap the benefits of this program.  Now that they’ve already released Lightroom 4 (prompting a Whoa! moment… v4 already!!??) I have at last, it would seem, seen the light.  Ahem.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’ve been letting too much time pass by between actually visiting a locality and posting about it.  I almost feel that I’ve been labouring through Iceland, partly because I want to share absolutely Every. Single. Epic. Scene. I saw and partly because I think every location deserves a stand-alone post and doesn’t deserve to be “glossed over” with a paltry couple of snaps; Iceland is so much more deserving than that.  That being said, you’ve probably all had enough “lava” shots and “mud-pots” to last your non-geological lifetimes.  I promise I won’t post about any more volcanoes (well, from Iceland… for now…).

So, to a new location and somewhere visited within the last seven days. (Not absolutely current, but still recent …an improvement, I think)

Forming part of South Africa’s Garden Route National Park, along with the Knysna National Lake Area and Wilderness National Park, is the Tsitsikamma National Park.  It is, quite simply, the most beautiful stretch of coastline that you will ever find anywhere in the world.  We’ve just come back from a short break: first staying 2 nights at the Nature’s Valley rest camp, followed by a further 2 nights at Storms River.

Nature's Valley Bay

Nature’s Valley Bay

Nature’s Valley is a holiday resort with a difference.  Holiday/retirement homes are all snuggled in behind the dunes, so whilst no-one has a “sea view” from the front stoep, the beach is at least protected from unsightly property developments.  As you drive along the few streets, you hardly notice that there are houses either side of you until you are right upon them; the indigenous forest rules in this neck of the woods.

View over Nature's Valley and Lagoon

View over Nature’s Valley and Lagoon

A view over the forest

A view over the forest

As you drive down into the valley, you are immediately surrounded with tangles of trees.  Older trees are covered in moss, giving them a rather spooky feel – but beautiful nonetheless.

Moss covered tree

Moss covered tree

The beach is absolutely beautiful.  I could have spent hours inspecting the rock pools and collecting shells.  We came across one poor, unfortunate starfish, though.  It would appear that someone’s curiosity got the better of them when they tried to pick up the starfish by one of its arms: it came off.  I’m presuming this was in a self-defensive move by the starfish that was not, after all, dead.  I am hoping that it is able to regenerate its lost limb in time.

Dismembered Starfish

Dismembered Starfish

Crystal clear waters

Crystal clear waters

The National Park camp itself is situated on the bank of the Groot River, just up from the lagoon, and is actually the finishing point for those hiking the Otter Trail (its starting point is over at Storms River, 60km away to the east).

View from the stoep

View from the stoep

There are plenty of campsites, about 10 forest huts and a couple of self-catering chalets by way of accommodation, all of which are nestled under the canopy of the indigenous forest.  You can choose to hike the many trails leading up into the forested hills surrounding the camp, or be a bit lazy (like us) and wait for the birdlife to come to you.  Without trying, we saw Pied Kingfishers, Giant Kingfishers, Olive Thrushes, Cormorants and African Black Oystercatchers in a very short period of time.

African Black Oystercatchers

African Black Oystercatchers

I’m also rather chuffed with myself that despite all of the previous attempts I’ve made to spot the seemingly elusive Knysna Lourie (aka Knysna Turaco) and failed – this time, they (4 of them!) decided to pay me a visit at our chalet.  Did I have my camera ready?? Not quite in time to get what would have been the clearest shots, but they did hang around long enough for me to get a few photographs.

Knysna Lourie

Knysna Lourie

They were fun to watch, flapping and clambering among the trees directly above me.

Knysna Lourie

Knysna Lourie

If you check out Wikipedia’s page for Nature’s Valley, they give a rather comprehensive list of all the flora and fauna that can be found in this small corner of the world.  It would seem that Nature’s Valley is rather aptly named…

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17 thoughts on “Tsitsikamma National Park – Nature’s Valley

  1. The first time I found out about Knysna was probably over five years ago from Earth TV’s live broadcast of weather around the globe. But I didn’t know what’s in this place, until today. Seems like a very interesting place to visit without having many people around. Oh and those moss-covered trees look like from fantasy tale!

    1. Knysna is situated on a wonderfully large lagoon, but considerably more developed than here at Nature’s Valley. It is still a very beautiful place, although over the Christmas holidays it gets a little too overcrowded for my liking!

  2. Beautiful Lu! I know what you mean about photographs. It can be so overwhelming at times and I don’t have nearly as many as you! Iceland is a photographers dream too so take your time to share the many beautiful photos you took! We will be waiting!:)

    1. Hi Nicole – Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, it means a lot 🙂 I have to admit that I often wonder how you manage to blog such high quality posts so frequently! Where do you find the time?!

      1. Oh Lu! I don’t know if they are high quality! Sometimes I worry that I bug people too much by posting so much. But I realize they can always delete them if they aren’t interested in a particular subject. I don’t work except take care of the two kids so I have downtime. Then I just cram it all in! I get a little crazy because I just love to write so much. 🙂

  3. Hi! Your Blog is nice and very interesting.Thanks! I enjoy following your blog! I see you like nature and beauty. I’m an artist.
    I adore painting nature, my blog can be interesting for you. Sergey Gusev, painter.

    1. Thank you so much Debra, it’s good to know that you are still enjoying the series 🙂
      This beach is absolutely stunning – and super clean. Aside from driftwood and shells, there is virtually nothing lying on the sand that shouldn’t be there…oh, and the sand is lovely and warm, too!

  4. You’ve got some really beautiful photos here and in the next post. Love those indigenous forest shots.

    I am not yet tired of Iceland, so when you have the time, would love to see more photos. Even the geological ones. 😉 Sounds like Iceland is to you, what the Kalahari is to me.

  5. I’m applying for a program that would allow me to spend 5 weeks in South Africa (on scholarship)! These pictures are getting me excited about this possible epic adventure that could take place next summer.

  6. Hey Lu!! Thanks for sharing this blog. Pics and blog both are very good. And willing come from my heart to see one day them. Such nature make your trip and day memorable.

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