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