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Camdeboo National Park

Eastern Cape > Graaff-reinet

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Formed hundreds of millions of years ago, the Karoo of South Africa is one of the great natural wonders of the world. Camdeboo National Park provides the visitor with insights into the unique landscape and ecosystem of the Karoo, not to mention awesome scenic beauty.

A unique feature of the 14 500-hectare park is its location, practically surrounding the town of Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.

The greater portion of the park is situated between 740 and 1480 metres above sea level on the foothills of the Sneeuberg range, while a small section of the low lying-plains is included. The Nqweba Dam lies within the park and covers about 1000 hectares when full. At some places, dolerites form jointed pillars – the best examples of which are found in the Valley of Desolation where erosion of the softer sedimentary beds has left dolerite pillars which rise to heights of 90 – 120 metres.

Areas of Special Interest
Visitors to the Game Viewing Area are requested to remain in their vehicles in order to protect the interests and expectations of other tourists. Visitors are also advised to leave the area in event of heavy rainfall, in order to avoid the risk of getting stuck or cut off by flash floods.

Activities and Facilities
Valley of Desolation
With an estimated 60 to 100 000 people who visit this site each year, the Valley of Desolation is a premier tourist attraction.

The Valley of Desolation was declared as a National Monument of geological and scenic significance by proclamation 2116 of the Government Gazette dated 22 December 1939.

The original road to the Valley of Desolation was constructed by labourers using picks, shovels and barrows. The road to the top of the valley was tarred in 1978 and today provides tourists with easy access to the viewpoints with their panoramic views of the landscape.

To the north, the highest peak in the Sneeuberg mountain range – Compassberg (2504 m) - is prominent, while on a clear day, the southern horizon stretches as far as the distant Cockscomb Mountains. To the east lies the ’Driekoppie’ (in the park) and the Nardausberg (beyond the park boundaries), both of which are often covered in snow during winter. The Plains of Camdeboo lie spread out south of the Sneeuberg from Pearston to Murraysburg. The viewpoints at the valley itself provide a breathtaking view of piled dolerites columns against the backdrop of the plain of the Great Karoo and a timeless sense of wonder at a landscape said to be the product of the erosive and volcanic forces of nature over a period of 200 million years.

Visitors may learn more about the reserve through information displays at parking areas or viewpoints. The Valley of Desolation, sometimes referred to as the ’Cathedral of the Mountains’ provides for many visitors an experience ranging from ’spiritual contact’ to one of profound awareness of the environment.

Game Viewing
Presently, approximately 19 km of gravel roadways provide visitors with the opportunity to view the entire range of indigenous species in their preferred habitats. Through the Poverty Relief Programme, the game viewing road network will be extended and improved.

Impunzi picnic area has four sites suitable for family outings. Each site is provided with a ’braai’ stand, picnic table and refuse drum. Water is available and the picnic area is provided with a ’long drop’ toilet.

Camdeboo Environmental Education Centre
The centre and staff offer programmes to any formal group to promote awareness of and sensitivity towards the natural environment. Courses are tailored to meet visitors’ needs up to a maximum of 40 people and may extend from one to four days. A nominal tariff is payable. This centre may also be booked for a team building or conference purpose.

Gannalapa is an outdoor recreation facility development for use by the local community as well as tour groups who wish to hold a social function around picnic or ’braai’ activities. It includes a bar, kitchen, toilets, braai circle with seating and picnic tables.

Trails and walks
The Crag Lizard Trail (45 minutes) starts at the Valley parking area and extends for about 1.5 km via the Valley viewpoints. It is marked with the Crag Lizard logo.

The Eerstefontein Day Walk starts and ends at the Spandaukop gate. There are three route options of 5; 11 and 14 km with good rest spots at Eerstefontein and Agtersfontein.
The Driekoppe Trail is an overnight trail in the mountains of the Eastern section of the park. The Waaihoek Trail Hut may be booked for up to two consecutive nights and accommodates 8 people.

For more information visit www.sanparks.org

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