Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park

Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park

A lovely rainy day today … glorious for the garden and perfect for blogging ūüôā

I would¬†loved to have¬†wandered around the town of Graaff Reinet after our arrival at¬†the B&B – Somerset Stables – but Elaine and Bryan, who had spent two nights in the Camdeboo National Park¬†earlier this year said the Valley of Desolation is a must !!!¬†¬† It was also recommended by Reinette of Somerset Stables … so back in the car for hubby and I !!

The Valley of Desolation, within the Camdeboo National Park (I love the name ūüėČ ! ), is a¬†mere 14¬†kilometres outside Graaff Reinet.¬† Consisting of 14500 hectares in the Great Karoo, Camdeboo attracts 220 species of birds, 336 plants and 43 types of mammals


The Valley of Desolation was declared a National Monument of geological and scenic significance in 1939.    The sheer cliffs and columns of dolerite is a geological phenomenon caused by volcanic and erosive forces of nature over 100 million years, rising nearly 120m from the valley floor.

The original dirt road was tarred in 1978 making it an easy and scenic drive up the mountain.¬† We stopped at¬†the Ribbokberg¬†picnic site on the way up to take a few photos …

Driving further up we stopped at the Toposcope which is situated on top of a peak overlooking the¬†plains of the¬†Great Karoo and Graaff Reinet.¬† It was quite a climb and I could have kicked myself as I didn’t take a photograph¬†of the path and steps from the carpark ūüôĀ

Pity the markings are not clear due to the sun’s reflection …

Graaff Reinet is situated within the horseshoe bend of the Sundays River …

Nqweba Dam is to the left …

Zoomed into the Dutch Reformed Church ..

.. and to our B&B (in the square) with DR Church at top right hand corner

On the right from where we stood are the vast plains of the Great Karoo.    Miles and miles of nothingness !!

How different the scene changes as the clouds drift overhead ..

Our destination¬†was the mountain top¬†to the left, clearly showing¬†the cliffs and columns of dolerite …

Road to the view point for Valley of Desolation …

View point parking is on the right.¬† It’s quite a hike along to the cliff edge !¬† Doesn’t look too bad from here, but there’s a constant gradient along a stony path ..

Car park at Valley of Desolation:¬† Breathtaking view from the deck ¬†…

Indigenous plant species¬†along the path were labelled, this being the Pencil¬†Milk Bush …

Is this Valley of Desolation .. between the cliffs and columns?¬†¬† I’m not sure which area the name refers.¬† This amazing phenomenon with a deep valley (and I mean deep, really deep!!) … or the vastness of nothingness of the plains of the Great Karoo¬†?

The rock face changed drastically as the clouds drifted overhead.¬†¬†¬† Visitors bring picnic baskets, wine, beers,¬†etc¬†at sunset to watch the ever changing colours of the¬†columns and cliffs.¬† Sadly we’d planned¬†pre-dinner drinks at Maria’s in town but will definitely make a point of doing the sunset trek on our next visit to Graaff Reinet

We don’t do selfies normally ūüôā¬† .. chilly and windblown hubby and I !

Those are¬†large bushes and even small trees¬†down there … it’s very, very deep !!!!


As the sun dipped further to the West, during the time we were there, the rock face changed ..

Walking back down the stony path we passed several picnickers on their way up.¬† We’ll definitely¬†have sundowners there¬†next time


Pretty pink flowers (pachypodium succulentum)¬†and yellow flowers en masse (Karoo gold – Rhigozum obovatum)¬†growing at the foothill of the mountain near the National Park’s gate ..

Very pretty landscape of yellow flowers all facing the sun ..

The sun dipped fairly quickly while I was taking pics of the sunny yellow flowers …

Nqweba Dam ..

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