A vertical rock face that has been designated a national monument and is located in the Camdeboo National Park is known as the Valley of Desolation in the Eastern Cape.
The Valley of Desolation, which is part of the Camdeboo National Park, is renowned as the “cathedral of the mountains” for its stacked dolerite columns that guard the Groot Karoo plains like sentinels. Views of the town of Graaff-Reinet and the Camdeboo plains may be seen from within these knobbly pillars, which are the result of erosion and volcanic activity.
In the middle of the Karoo’s aridness, the town of Graaff-Reinet is surrounded by the Valley of Desolation, a distinctive Karoo landscape and environment.
It’s stunning to see the dolerite columns and steep cliffs perched dangerously 120 metres above the valley floor. The formation of this peculiar feature required 100 million years of volcanic and erosive activities. Huge, lonesome hobgoblins of nature, they stand sentry over a valley, compelling anybody who sees them to pause for a moment to take in the power and beauty of nature.
There are 220 species of birds, 336 plant species, and 43 different types of mammals in this area, which is only 14 kilometres outside of Graaff-Reinet. There are walking paths that range from an hour to overnight hikes in the Valley of Desolation, as well as picnic areas for those who just want to take in the spectacular precipices. The valley welcomes visitors to stay a while or to explore its attractions.
Even the most jaded traveller is drawn to Nieu-Bethesda by the Owl House, where the tours never fail to impress and the camel yard to captivate. Graaff-Reinet is unquestionably worth a visit only for the nicely restored Karoo-style residences and the historical buildings.
On the R63 toward Murraysburg, the gate may be found 5 km outside of Graaff-Reinet. The picnic areas and the game watching area are available to day visitors.
How Was The Valley Of Desolation Formed?
The Valley of Desolation, which was created more than 100 million years ago by a cataclysmic volcanic upheaval, is made up of high cliffs and enormous dolomite rocks that are perilously balanced and descend abruptly to the valley floor 120 metres below. From the rocky heights, one may glimpse a seemingly endless landscape where visitors’ whispers reverberate through the calm Karoo air. The scenery enlarges into an exquisite clarity that is difficult to express, while the peaceful stillness overwhelms the brain with a bewildering peace.
What To Do
The majority of visitors discover that they are content to only gaze at the Valley’s peaks as time passes and communication becomes less significant. There are several choices for panoramic views from the cliff tops, from where one may overlook the picturesque Karoo plains as well as the surrounding historic town of Graaff-Reinet. The Crag Lizard Trail is a well-marked walk that starts in the parking lot and takes around 45 minutes to complete for those looking to get the most out of their trip.
Other Places To Visit Near Valley Of Desolation
Within the Camdeboo National Park, which is home to an amazing variety of flora and fauna, is where you may find the Valley of Desolation. There are numerous animals to look for, and the park is home to over 220 bird species. The critically endangered Cape mountain zebra, the beautiful black eagle, and the Kori bustard, the biggest flying bird in the world, are examples of rare animals. Numerous picnic areas provide opportunities for a respite, and hiking trails with durations varying from an hour to several days should occupy the more active visitors.
Where vast plains give way to rolling koppies (rounded hilltops), and the distinct scent of the bushland permeates the air, the simple yet spectacular Karoo vegetation that covers the area is in itself a beautiful sight to witness.
The fourth-oldest town in South Africa, Graaff-Reinet, is just a short drive away and is known for its deep Cape Dutch heritage. More national monuments are located there than in any other South African municipality. The Reinet House Museum, the Dutch Reformed Church, and Stretch’s Court, a charmingly restored street of Karoo cottages with vibrantly painted shutters and doors, are a few of the highlights to visit.
Valley Of Desolation, Camdeboo National Park, Graff-Reinet, Karoo Heartland, Eastern Cape, South Africa
When To Visit
Best during daylight hours.
Tel: +27 (0)49 892-3453