We all have it.
We all have that special happy place.
A place where you feel at peace and at home, a place that talks to your whole being, where you can block out the noise, sit back, switch off and reflect.
Think about it.
Where is your happy place?
You know the one I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the one with the road you know by hand, the road you know by distance and exact time, where you instinctively know when to swerve out for a pothole and where to hold your breath as you get drenched in that “you’re home” view when you turn that one specific corner. I’m talking about the one that’s familiar yet full of surprises, the one new, the one old, the one recent, the one you’ve grown into, the one that has grown into you. I’m talking about that one place where luxury lies in the quiet moments, where tranquility and nature walk hand-in-hand, that one place where you see a sunset with more than just your eyes, that place where everything around you fills you with gratitude and love; where a bond of moments are forever formed, moments others might not understand, moments you can’t explain.
You know the place I’m talking about, we all have it, that one special place, that place where you feel at peace and at home, a place that talks to your whole being, where you can block out the noise, sit back, switch off and reflect.
About 45 minutes from Port Elizabeth there is a place called Gamtoos, and it is my happy place.
And while I have lived in 2 countries, 7 different cities/town, 10 different homes and still have a long list of favourite destinations – abroad and in South Africa – where I see myself living for extended periods of time in the future, there is only one place in the world where “home” is more than walls and a ceiling, there is only one place in the world where home is a feeling.
There is a place called Gamtoos (Mouth) and it is my happy place as its quietly tucked away from the noise of highways and city life; surrounded by the Indian Ocean, indigenous wonders, wetlands and a belt of untouched dunes where the Kouga and Groot River meet with a formidable liquid handshake before they part and say their goodbyes into the Indian Ocean.
It is a place where the Knysna Louries cross your path with a kokoko here and a red-wing view there, it is a place where every sunset is a masterpiece, a place where the waves crash in foamy delight onto golden sand, where the kobs flow and yellowwood giants grow. It is a place where kingfishers dive and hunt, where the night owl calls the rhythm of the day, where bush buck eyes glitter in the dark, all while the Cockscomb Peak keeps a watchful eye over the Eastern Cape’s spark.
There is a place called Gamtoos and it is my happy place. Where is yours?
A place called Gamtoos – my happy place
Finally, after hundreds of short video clips, many hours and multiple months, I’ve put together a video about this place called, Gamtoos. Have a look.
But the Gamtoos Valley is more than what you see in the video, it is more than just the ocean and dunes; it is also a thriving farming community of Loerie, Hankey and Patensie – often called “the pantry of the Eastern Cape” – thanks to the fertile soil of the Gamtoos River. It is also in this valley where you can find South Africa’s most diverse wilderness area, the Baviaanskloof, where seven out of eight of our country’s biomes can be found. It is also in this valley, the origin of Sarah Baartman, where you can find farm stall upon farm stall, never-ending back roads, quartzitic sandstone formations and four-footed wild ones.
I’ve known and grown into the Gamtoos Valley for the last decade and a half because, 15 years ago, on one Sunday afternoon, my parents decided to take a back road and see where they end up…
They’ve found their happy place, made it home and the rest is history (or in the genes).
And in the end – even though I get frustrated with the signal when I want to do work from there while I visit – there is a place called Gamtoos and it is my happy place. Where is yours?