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Finding Peace In Plett

Plett needn’t only be about Matric Rage. Narina Exelby finds a very special secret spot by the water – good for all that ails you. 


If you’ve ever done a digital detox in a remote setting, you’ll know: re-entering the ‘real world’ can be overwhelming. After the stillness of living a few undisturbed days offline and in nature, the noise of everyday life – being bombarded by to-do lists, incessant WhatsApp notifications, traffic, fluorescent lighting, checkout queues (even socially distanced ones) – is a sure way to unravel that hard-earned inner peace.

I had just hiked the Otter Trail and, reluctant to return to normal life, wanted the sense of tranquillity I’d found while hiking to linger a few days longer. ‘Let’s go camping,’ my partner suggested when he met me at the end of the trail. ‘I know just the place.’ 


At the waters’ edge

The Keurbooms River rises south of Uniondale and carves its way for 85 km through the rugged Langkloof mountains. Just before its waters enter the Indian Ocean on the eastern fringe of Plettenberg Bay, the Keurbooms lazily unfurls itself in a wide, sweeping estuary where the waters rise and fall with the tides. 

It was on the banks of the lagoon, facing out to sea, that I found a slice of paradise: the Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park. At the height of summer the popular 270-site park is jam-packed but out of season – as it was when we stayed – it is blissfully quiet. ‘You’re welcome to pick any spot you like,’ said Chris Hops, whose family has owned the property since the late 1800s. ‘I’d recommend the ones along the lagoon – you’d never get a spot there in December.’

We drove through the quiet park, its web of roads twisting around manicured lawns and towering gum trees in a layout that doesn’t reveal the true size of the area, and found the waterfront sites. Stretching out from the campsite, the lagoon wrapped around sandbanks and reached to sea, with the distant Robberg peninsula one side, and the jagged peaks of the Tsitsikamma Mountains on the other. 

Finding Peace In Plett


Back to nature

Camping a few days with this view was utter bliss. In the mornings, we’d brew coffee while a colony of gulls swirled and settled like snow flurries on the sandbars. Throughout the day pairs of African black oystercatchers scuttled across the sand while herons ducked for fish, and giant malachite and pied kingfishers perched in the trees beside our tent. One evening a pair of curious otters popped their heads up from the rocks to see what was on our braai, then slipped back into the water to patrol the estuary.

There is plenty to do here, if you can tear yourself away from your waterfront seat. Little jetties make access to the water easy if you’re wanting to SUP or canoe upriver (arrange rental from the reception); there is a seemingly endless beach to walk along; Old Nick Village (for a restaurant and artsy stores) is just over the road and the Robberg Nature Reserve, which has three hiking trails,
is about 15 minutes away by car.

What was to be one night here became two, then three… What a privilege to while away time here to the gentle rhythm of the tides. 

Finding Peace In Plett


Photography: Courtesy Images