Tucked away in a corner of the southern Cape coast there is a small holiday location named Nature’s Valley. Four low-key streets service the nearly 400 houses that make up this unique village, with a rustic restaurant/shop as the only commercial outlet. The settlement is fronted by more than 3 km of broad, white-sanded beach (which is relentlessly pounded by frothy, Indian Ocean breakers), and flanked by pristine tracts of densely-green Tsitsikamma Forest, sunlit slopes of wind-washed fynbos, and the sparkling, copper-toned waters of the Groot River estuary.

“Nature’s” is popular in season, when holiday rentals are all taken, homeowners are all home, and the campsites situated along the river just inside the Tsitsikamma National Park are all occupied. Throngs of people spill out daily onto the beach and into the forest, the river and the sea – fishing, kayaking, picnicking, hiking or just basking and basting their weary bodies. But even at its busiest, when the hordes of leisure-seekers are at their vibrant, colourful and energetic height, the visceral tendrils of nature push through. The air is blurred by the humid airs of the ocean, and sounds are muted by the constant, deep snoring of the sea, the gusting breeze chasing quietly percussive sounds from the forest canopy, and by the lap-lapping of the estuary along its stone-strewn shore. Wildlife – birds and fish and dolphins and more – mingles almost seamlessly with the crowding beachgoers. And the landscape glows softly metallic under the benevolent gaze of the sun. There is a deeply-resident, prevailing and profound aura of harmony.¬†

The diversity of birds at Nature’s Valley speaks to the rich fertility of the habitats present, but the riparian and coastal species are the most conspicuous and characteristic, and therefore perhaps the most special. White-breasted Cormorants hunt mullet in the shallows of the river mouth, or drape themselves over snags to dry after filling their crops; African (Black) Oystercatchers brave the waves between tides as they seek out mussels and other shellfish along shore; feisty White-fronted Plovers also work the shoreline, their tiny steps leaving staccato patterns on the wet sand, to be washed away by the next surge of foam; Little Egrets dance in the streaming shallows – a ghostly ballet choreographed by shoaling fingerlings as they dart across the receding water; dragon-eyed Kelp Gulls dismantle beached blobs of red-bait, pausing occasionally to yelp lovesongs or battlecries at the sky…

All the while young people swim and shriek happily in the tannic deep of the river, Kynsna Turacos wheeze their throaty calls from the depths of the forest, sightseers consume a birds-eye view of the blue bay and the distant shadow of Robberg from the craggy heights of Pig’s Head, and cicadas sizzle like so many frying pans from the closely-huddled bushes and trees. Nature retains her ancient ownership of the valley, holding all the assembled souls under a shroud of warmth and safety and peace…

 

 

2 Replies to “Nature’s way”

  1. Nice, thanks! Nature’s Valley is one of the very few – the only? – town/village on the coast that hasn’t stuffed up the primary beach dune system, with virtually all of the development having been located behind the dune. If only this practice had been applied elsewhere!

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