About Valley of Desolation
The Valley of Desolation – often called ‘The Cathedral of the Mountains’ – is a national monument and the premier tourist attraction in the Camdeboo National Park.
Experience the breathtaking view of piled dolerite columns against the backdrop of the plains of the Great Karoo. Absorb yourself in the timeless sense of wonder at a landscape said to be the product of volcanic and erosive forces of nature over a period of 100 million years.
Enjoy the unique view of the historic town of Graaff-Reinet, set like a jewel within a horseshoe bend of the Sundays River. Nature lovers will appreciate the Karoo mountain flora and fauna and the opportunity to view black eagles at close range.
The Valley of Desolation rock formations consist of dolerites which have formed jointed pillars. Erosion of the softer sedimentary beds has left dolerite pillars which rise to heights of 90 to 120 metres.
The Valley of Desolation was declared as a National Monument of geological and scenic significance in 1939. The original road to the Valley of Desolation was constructed by labourers using picks, shovels and barrows. The road to the top of the valley was tarred in 1978 and today provides tourists with easy access to the viewpoints with their panoramic views of the landscape.
To the north, the highest peak in the Sneeuberg mountain range – Compassberg (2504m) – is prominent, while on a clear day, the southern horizon stretches as far as the distant Cockscomb Mountains. To the east lies the ‘Driekoppie’ (in the park) and the Nardausberg (beyond the park boundaries), both of which are often covered in snow during winter.
The Plains of Camdeboo lie spread out south of the Sneeuberg from Pearston to Murraysburg. The viewpoints at the valley itself provide a breathtaking view of piled dolerites columns against the backdrop of the plain of the Great Karoo and a timeless sense of wonder.
The Crag Lizard Trail starts at the Valley parking area and extends for about one and a half kilometres via the Valley viewpoints. It is about a 45-minute walk and is well marked with the Crag Lizard logo.
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*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling