Adventures in Nature’s Valley: a list
February 17, 2020

by Ben Wilson

RENT A CANOE OR KAYAK

An all-time favourite activity in the valley is paddling out on a kayak or canoe (rented from the De Vasselot camps site) and taking in the serenity of Nature’s Valley. There is an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the lagoon, whether you want to get wet and wild, relax to the sounds of nature or even go birding for the chance to glimpse the giant and Malachite Kingfishers, African finfoots and many more. When out on the water ensure to respect the wildlife and those around you so everyone has the best experience possible and be sure to check where the restricted sections of the estuary are, but of course have fun!

EXPERIENCE ONE OF THE BEST BEACHES IN THE WORLD…

Yes, we may be biased here at NVT but the Nature’s Valley beach rivals some of the best beaches in the world, with squeaky white sand and stunning views back into the Tsitsikamma mountains, few beaches match the heights of this one. Bring a picnic and enjoy soaking up the sun and listening to the sound of the waves, take a leisurely walk or thumb the pages of a great book, this beach is a precious Eden in which to spend your day. Check ahead as to the beach regulations, this is a National park after all and please adhere to the dog restrictions, for good reason. The beach is home to some charismatic and charming birds, in particular, the African Black Oystercatcher and the White-fronted Plover and the presence of dogs in certain stretches are restricted to avoid disturbing them in their home; remember to #ShareTheShores.

PS. The beach is extra special at sunset (also a great time to try and spot a cape clawless otter)

 

CYCLING IN AND AROUND THE VALLEY

Grabbing a bike and pedalling around the quiet roads of the valley is a lovely way to while the time, you are sure to encounter the resident bushbuck and see a few cool birds along the way. Combining the valley roads with riding alongside the estuary on the lagoon drive and towards Groot River bridge is also a pleasant and not overly strenuous two-wheeled adventure. For the more experienced cyclists, an enduring uphill cycle awaits you on either side of the valley, with incredible views of big yellowwoods along the way, this is a rewarding cycle to get the blood pumping.

 

SWIMMING IN THE ESTUARY

Although it is very possible to take a paddle in the sea at Nature’s Valley beach, the strong rip currents in the sea and the lurking sharks and bluebottles can make the estuary a seemingly more inviting place to take a dip. The estuary lagoon is ideal for families as the shallow edges make for a top day out with the kids, where they can swim safely in the shallow banks. The lagoon is teeming with fish and some of them will be sure to come say hello.

WANDER UP TO THE POINT AND ENJOY THE GULLY

A worthwhile valley adventure is to wade across the estuary mouth (if it is open, oh and by the way you’re likely to get quite wet!) and towards the gully and The Point view. At the eastern end of the beach is the entrance to The Point trail where you can stop off and experience the excitement of the secluded gully, which if you’re lucky might provide the chance to swim with some spotted gully sharks (a.k.a. sharptooth houndshark). Head on up the trail to the point with a moderately steep ascent to a breathtaking view back over the valley and a great chance to spot dolphins and other passing marine life, you may need to be patient mind.

CLIMB UP TO THE PIG’S HEAD FOR BREATHTAKING VIEWS

This awesome walk provides you with arguably one of the best views and photographic opportunities of the beach. The Pig’s Head climb can be accessed on the other side of the estuary mouth for a short sharp ascent; however, we highly recommend beginning your trek at the start of the boardwalk by the Groot River. Head over the bridge (heading away from the village) and turn right onto the trail winding through the forest on a relatively gentle slope, this fun forest walk is great for spotting wildlife and follows the estuary around to the start of the Pig’s Head climb. The forest section of the walk isn’t overly challenging; however, it is over uneven terrain in parts so bring decent footwear. The final few steps up to the viewpoint are steep but don’t last long and trust us the reward makes it totally worthwhile.

DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF SALT RIVER

A hidden gem awaits you around the corner from Nature’s Valley beach, be sure to check the tide times but a scramble around the rocky headland at the shop end of the beach leads to a beautiful and secluded beach at the mouth of Salt River. Alternatively, one can climb the path over the headland and back down into the salt river, ensure to stop off at the Nature’s Valley lookout on the way for great views back over blue rocks and the beach. Head to the salt river in the early or dwindling hours of the day for the chance to spot an African Fish Eagle or a Cape Clawless Otter. Having been compared in splendour to ‘The Beach’ from the classic Di Caprio film and Alex Garland’s novel, Salt River is not one to miss.

TACKLE THE KALANDERKLOOF TRAIL

The Kalanderkloof trail is a bit of a mouthful to say, but nonetheless one of the best hikes around the valley (even more epic if combined with Salt River). The beginnings of this trail are opposite the De Vasselot campsite and the path winds up through the towering and stupendously large Yellow- and Stinkwood trees that envelop the forest floor. This walk is awesome for spotting three of the four valley f’s: flora, fauna and fungi. The trail follows a stream up through the valley, leading to a steep stair climb up and out of the forest and into the magnificent fynbos, the fourth f. There are some lovely viewpoints to admire up here down into the valley, before descending down the other side. It is worth noting the climb up to the fynbos is steep and should not be undertaken lightly, the trail can easily be tailored to specific needs and you could always head back down through the forest.

TRY YOUR HAND AT FISHING

Whether a competent fisherman or fledgling angler the valley has many options for you. The valley has recently seen the addition of several fisherman’s bins, so be sure to safely and sustainably dispose of your line and other tackle. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure you grab yourself a fishing/bait-collecting permit from the post office before you try your luck. Sustainable fishing habits can allow wildlife to survive and the next generation to continue to enjoy the pleasures of today, and tomorrow!

ENJOY SOME FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE AT NATURE’S WAY

In terms of grabbing a bite to eat there’s always the Nature’s Valley restaurant which lies at the end of the famed Otter trail, with wood-fired pizzas, ice-cold drinks and more, what’s not to like? A little further up the valley, you come to the Nature’s Way farmstall, with a mouth-watering selection of goodies just waiting to be tried. Lekker pies, tarts, cakes and affordable lunches this old-fashioned farm is a quaint hang-out for a catch-up or perhaps a great end to a long cycle up the pass. The farm has its own dairy parlour which produces some super yummy ice cream, milk and other dairy delights. Also, if you want to scratch a friendly pig with a broom, admire some goats and see some young calves, the kids and adults alike have plenty to enjoy.

 

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE RESIDENT WILDLIFE and GET INVOLVED

The valley plays home to many resident species and to the attentive eye is a true animal paradise. The native fauna includes the big mammals e.g. bushbuck, baboons, vervet monkeys, bush pigs and the elusive cats (mountain leopards and the like, yes, they are around!), the slithery reptiles e.g. boomslang, Knysna chameleons and puff adders, as well as stunning birdlife like the Knysna Turaco and estuarine birds. Keep an eye out also for opportunities to come to get involved with NVT by joining us on a bird-ringing event or perhaps a fynbos flower walk. These events are great for kids and aspiring naturalists alike and are sure to fill your brain with fun facts and great memories of the natural wonders of this aptly-named valley.

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