The perfect getaway for a week of relaxation and tranquility is a stay in a quite cabin in Nature's Valley. This past year I was lucky enough to have two visits, one in winter and the other in summer, to this peaceful hideaway.
Nature’s Valley is a village located just outside of Plettenberg Bay, along South Africa’s spectacular Garden Route. If you have decided to head to Knysna for a vacation, it is a good idea to take a few extra days and check out Nature’s too.
I stayed in a cabin on stilts in the forest, just a short 200m walk from the beach. This was the most incredible experience as the cabin was a retreat in itself. The outside shower faces the forest, and you feel as if civilisation has disappeared and you are able to be exposed to the purest of elements. The trees in this area are the epitome of a wise forest, which has the added effect of putting you into the deepest of sleeps at night from the Outeniqua Rust air. This ‘outeniqua rust’ is commonly believed by locals to create an added sense of tranquillity and peace into your life, causing you to be totally and completely relaxed in everything you do. Now I cannot speak with any scientific knowledge or proof behind this, but I can say that I have never fallen asleep so quickly and peacefully as I did while in Nature’s.
The type of holiday you experience in Nature’s Valley is not the typical touring of European cities, but rather of relaxing and being able to enjoy an environment completely unrelated to work. In the summer months you will find the beach filled with surfers, swimmers, and sun tanners; the roads sprinkled with cyclists, and the smells of sunscreen and braais. The location of Nature’s is the ending of the Otter Trail, a famous four-day walk in the area, which provides you with some beautiful hikes to go on.
My winter stay included a range of activities differed slightly from those of the summer months, but were nonetheless as enjoyable. Aside from the beach walks, and the wonderful lagoon paddles, walking in the forest was my highlight. My favourite walk was in the Garden Route National Park, in the Tsitsikamma Section, where there was the most beautiful wooden walkway taking you on a circular route through trees and past a river cove.
For my summer trip my favourite experience has to be a hike to the cave and a swim in a 'shark' gully located at the end of the Otter Trail. As you can see the waters were crystal clear, and as warm as can be - perfect for some long relaxing floats in the summer sun.
After some dips into the warm gully waters we took a hike to the cave near the gully. It was quite the experience, having to walk up the mountain, climb down the one side, and the across the rock-faced cliff before the ascend back up to the cave. But the views and pleasant afternoon sun made it all worth while. If you're heading to this piece of paradise I would definitely recommend visiting the cave (but be warned that some people have died trying to get to it, so just make sure you're with someone who knows exactly how to get there, and you'll be fine).