I am beyond excited to share this post with you today. After visiting Graaff-Reinet a number of times over the past year, we finally made it to Valley of Desolation (14km outside Graaff-Reinet) at the end of January and. It. Was. Incredible.
The Valley of Desolation, known as ‘The Cathedral of the Mountains’, is a magical geological phenomenon, and was declared a national monument in 1939. The majestic vertical cliffs rising 120m from the valley floor – the product of a 100million year “volcanic and erosive force of nature” – is set against a breath-taking backdrop of endless Karoo plains. It’s hauntingly beautiful.
There are many viewpoints and picnic sites scattered around the park, offering picture perfect panoramic views of the Cambedoo landscape and beyond, such as Compassberg (the highest peak in the Sneeuberg mountain range), Driekoppie, and Nardausberg (both often covered with snow during the colder Karoo months). For the more adventurous (read: extremely fit) there are three hiking trails: the 45min Crag Lizard Trail, the Eerstefontein day walk, and the one-hour Gideon Scheepers Trail. Oh, and bird fanatics..? You’ll DIE. Nearly 250 bird species have been recorded in the park. ALL the birds for realsies forevs.
We arrived at Valley of Desolation at 7am (the park opens at 6am) and set aside one hour to see the sites, which we were going to follow with an early breakfast in Graaff-Reinet. Well, well well…we were in the park FOR FOUR HOURS PEOPLE. FOUR. It’s that amazing. Add it to your travel bucket list. Now.
Ag, I actually can’t do this place any justice with words, not even with photos, maar ek sal nietemin probeer!