The Awe-Inspiring Valley of Desolation
Graaff-Reinet is one of the most historic towns in South Africa. It was established approximately two hundred years ago, and the old buildings and monuments do not only map out the history of the town and of South Africa, but it showcases the various cultures that crossed paths with Graaff-Reinet, while the fossils found tell the story of a seabed that once existed. Its magnificent heritage can also be found in the nature that surrounds it, more specifically in the fifteen thousand hectares of the Camdeboo National Park that embraces the town.
In the Camdeboo National Park, lies the Valley of Desolation. It is described by many as a geological phenomenon. This prime example of the power and wonder of nature, leaves visitors awe-inspired and breathless. In 1935, this fascinating rock formation was recognized for its uniqueness, and was declared to be a Scenic National Monument. It has become one the attractions of Graaff-Reinet that has lured photographers, hikers and curious visitors, who come to appreciate the breathtaking sunsets, exclusive photographic opportunities and the wondrous sight of the Valley of Desolation.
The Valley of Desolation consists of massive one hundred and twenty meter rock formations that took approximately a hundred million years to shape by means of both volcanic activity and erosive forces. The hiking trails allow nature enthusiasts to see the best of the valley and even though isolated, and the fact that its name gives the impression of being barren, the diverse landscape of the valley attracts a variety of wildlife. There are more than three hundred and thirty plant species found here, more than two hundred bird species and a great number of mammals. Visitors are also recommended, if they are not interested in hiking, to take the fourteen kilometer drive up to the summit. Picnic areas are also found along the way and visitors are welcome to take on the overnight hiking expeditions. The intimidating rock towers are monuments to the intricate and awesome workings of nature. Of all the natural and manmade attractions Graaff-Reinet has to offer, the Valley of Desolation is by far the most breathtaking.