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Nature’s Valley

Of the many places we visited during our two weeks in South Africa the one that stands out above all others for its unparalleled tranquility, natural beauty, and down-to-earth charm is Nature’s Valley. Incredibly, despite the considerable amount of research that went into planning our Garden Route road trip, we were completely unaware of its existence until pure happenstance led us there.

Having greeted the New Year in Avoca, we got off to a late start and did not reach the Storms River entrance of the Garden Route until the late afternoon. The sun was beginning its downward descent by the time we checked into Ingwe AfriCamps only to discover that we were going to be short on dining options. We did not pre-arrange a braai with the campsite manager, there were no restaurants in the immediate vicinity of Ingwe, and many of the ones further afield were likely to be either closed or booked solid on account of the holiday.

The AfriCamps manager suggested we head to Nature’s Valley on the off chance that either its small convenience store or restaurant might be open. The drive to Nature’s Valley proved reason enough to visit. We turned off the main N2 highway and drove out to a small strand of forest before a series of zigzags brought us down to the valley floor. Baboons patrolled the forest edge while a salty ocean breeze greeted us upon arrival in Nature’s Valley.

We wound up returning to this little beach village, which is nestled in the foothills of the Tsisikamma Mountains, each of the subsequent three days. There was much to love about Nature’s Valley, starting with its laidback aura. Despite the fact that we were there during the height of the busy season it was not overrun with tourists, as was the case with many higher-profile destinations along the Garden Route.

Best of all was the beach: a broad sandbar that separated the stormy ocean from a placid lagoon. Strong currents render many of the Cape’s most scenic beaches inaccessible, especially for young swimmers. Nature’s Valley provided the best of both worlds: the unmistakable feeling of being at the beach with access to a calm, pleasant lagoon, which both Munchkin and Junebug could enjoy.

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