The Camdeboo National Park is one of the Karoo’s best kept secrets. The park almost completely surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, and is located in the Eastern Cape province. It is also unlike any other national park in the country because of its very unique landscape.
The Valley of Desolation lies within Camdeboo and is, without a doubt, the highlight of the park if not the province. If you follow the road to the top of the valley you are rewarded with panoramic views of the spectacular landscape.
Piled dolerite columns, formed millions of years ago, is believed to have been caused by volcanoes and erosion. The vast Karoo forms the backdrop to the magnificent pillars of rock – and when the sun goes down, the light hits the stone turning it to gold. It is truly unlike any other landscape in South Africa and the reason why tourists gather at the park every year.
Before the pandemic hit, SANParks recorded more than 100 000 visits to the park each year – and Camdeboo was sought after for being the premier tourist attraction in the area.
Interesting facts about Camdeboo National Park:
- The Valley of Desolation is also known as the ‘Cathedral of Mountains’ – when the sun sets it lights up the columns creating what looks like a cathedral organ.
- If you enjoy hiking, there are three free trails – Crag Lizard, Eerstefontein Day Walk and Gideon Scheepers Trail.
- There is about 19km of gravel roads within the park for visitors to explore with a vehicle.
- If you are a twitcher, you’ll be excited to know that more than 250 bird species have been recorded in the park.
- The Valley of Desolation is not the only attraction – there is also the Nqweba Dam, which provides a cooling resting place during the hot summer months. You can also partake in water sport here, boating, canoeing, fishing and windsurfing are allowed with permit fees.
- Camdeboo is home to buffalo, gemsbok, springbok and black wildebeest which roam freely.
- There are two accommodation options to stay within the park – Lakeview Tented Camp and Nqweba Camp Sites.