Eastern Cape Edens
The Karoo doesn’t generally engender visions of eco-systems alive with animals and plants, but that is just what you’ll find – thanks in part to the tireless work of those who have a deep passion for rehabilitating large swathes of this land.
Graaff-Reinet’s Valley of Desolation couldn’t be any less like its name suggests. Set in the heart of the Camdeboo National Park, perhaps a more apt name would be the Valley of Diversity, based simply on the staggering amount of fauna and flora you will find here. Twitchers have in excess of 200 bird species, including Kori bustards and Black eagles, to keep their binoculars glued to their faces.,. Flora fundis will be spoilt with over 300 plant species, while the rest of us can still be entertained with the possibility of spotting a healthy selection of animals, including the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and a host of different antelope species. Visitors should also be sure to drive slowly as they enter the park, not only to enjoy its spectacular views, but because there is a good chance the odd leopard tortoise may be making its slow and steady way across the tarmac.
Should you not spot your fair share of animals, fear not, because the park’s main attraction – the aforementioned valley – is impossible to miss . . . or to forget. Think towering dolerite columns of rock rising up 100 or so metres from the desert floor, clustered together like a giant’s game of hopscotch or stepping stones, created and weathered over the last 100 million years. It’s little wonder that it was declared a National Monument of geological and scenic significance as far back as in 1939. As you stand at the look-out point, and the setting sun emblazons the columns in warm shades of ochre, with the plains