Nature's Valley Vibes

Madeleine Pienaar
7 July 2016
Nature's Valley Vibes

My name is Madeleine Pienaar and I’m currently studying Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University. My friend, Megan, and I decided to intern with the Nature’s Valley Trust during our winter holidays. We honestly didn’t know what to expect, but as time progressed we became aware of what an awesome situation we have landed ourselves in. On arrival I couldn’t actually believe I was going to be living in this green forest paradise for three weeks. 


Afromontane forest

The view of the Afromontane Forest


Without wanting to sound like a marketing brochure, Nature’s Valley had me in awe everyday. Literally, everyday. I became a hiking addict, walking up the local routes over and over, for they are just too beautiful to stop appreciating all over again. I discovered how interesting birds are. Ben, the volunteer from America, made birding seem effortless and seemed to attract all the rare birds in the area. We rowed around with Brittany in search of mosquito fish. We hiked with Kellyn all over Nature’s Valley, picking up lots of interesting information about flowers and how to study them. We went on an amazing hike with Daniël to watch and learn about his field work in the fynbos. I felt like a treasure seeking pirate with a compass when walking around with the GPS to find his right field locations. I saw maaany dolphins, breath-taking views, and a blissful overload of the colour green. 


Fieldwork with Brittany

Madeline and Brittany sampling mosquitofish along the Groot River (left) and the view of the still estuary water with overhanging trees (right)


The home we lived in is spacious and cozy (especially when Brittany made a fire). We spent many evenings playing games by the fire, while Chewy either snuggled sweetly or sneaked around stealing our socks and shoes… Everyday I would walk beneath the fairy tale tree arches, greet the bush buck, possibly run into some monkeys or baboons and arrive to the dear naughty Chewy. The time FLEW. 



Bush buck seen on the streets of Nature's Valley.


I am pretty convinced that the magic of Nature’s Valley found its way into the people, for you are struck by the comfortable atmosphere of the NVT team. Mark found the perfect balance between making us feel that we have complete freedom of how we spend our time, while being equally inspiring to make us want to join in on whatever is happening.

I’m struggling to find a highlight, so all I can honestly say is that the vibe through-out the three weeks was just brilliant :)