Natures Valley: Garden Route National Park Hot

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Nestled between the escarpment, coastal forest, the Groot River and the sea, Natures Valley is one of the most scenic locations in heart of the Garden Route of South Africa.

It also lies within the heart of the Garden Route National Park, encompassing a strict conservation ethic. Natures Valley is the end point of the famous Otter Trail and most hikers stay on at least an additional day to take in the splendor of this small town gem.

Bushbuk, Honey Badger bushipg and numerous forest birds are regularly sighted, often being seen feeding in the towns gardens. As a top birding destination, Knysna Turaco, Chorister Robin-Chat and Half-Collared Kingfisher are just a few of the specials to be sighted here. Plenty of scenic walks allow one to explore the coastal forest, riparian woodlands, estuary and coastal sections of this diverse area. 

Photography

Best Time to Photograph
Dawn is the time for the bird chorus and by moving slowly through the SANParks campsite many birds may be seen calling from prominent positions in the open, allowing easy photography. Late evening is best for seascapes, while landscapes within the dark forest patches are best from dawn to mid-morning. Dusk is good for finding and photographing Bushpigs and Genets
Type of Photography
  • Birds
  • Landscapes
  • Seascapes
  • Coastal Forest
Best Time of Year
Throughout the year
Photographic Tips
The SANParks rest camp is an excellent place to photograph many of the forest birds such as the Knysna Turaco and Chorister Robin Chats as they have become habituated to human presence. Small Spotted Genet, Bushbig and Honey Badger also frequent the camp and for the lucky may be seen at dusk. Waterbirds are plentiful along the estuary and may be photographed from a canoe or kayak. There are a number of forest trails that can be taken to find suitable locations for landscape photography deep in the forest interior and maps showing these may be obtained from the SANParks office. The inter-tidal rock platforms to the west of the estuary mouth provide good locations for seascape photography.
Recommended Gear
Given the darkness of the forest, a flash and if possible, a flash extender is needed in most occasions for bird photography. Even though many of the birds are habituated to human presence, a large telephoto lens is still required. A sturdy tripod and cable release, together with a wide-angled and mid-range zoom lens is needed for landscape photography

Footnotes

Season and Weather
The Garden Route and Natures Valley has a mild Mediterranean climate with rain falling at anytime of the year. Given the proximity to the sea and falling within coastal forest, temperatures can be cool throughout the year and it is therefore necessary to pack accordingly.
Other Activities
  • Bird Watching
  • Canoeing
  • Walking & Hiking

Location

Closest Town
Getting There
Natures Valley is best reached via the N2 between the towns of Plettenberg Bay and Storms River. The turnoff from the N2 is well signposted
Address
Natures Valley

Map

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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: http://www.peterchadwick.co.zaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
About
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.