The gathering point for all of the Cederberg Heritage Route Trails is Clanwilliam, an easy three hour drive from Cape Town.
We gathere at the Yellow Aloe – a real oasis in what can be a very hot Clanwilliam – and were treated to an excellent light lunch. This was followed by a trail briefing by Cederberg Travel, the organisers and co-ordinators of the Cederberg Heritage Trails, before being piled in to the transport vehicle for transfer to the start on the Pakhuis Pass. There we met Gert our cart driver and the six donkeys, Trapnet, Satan, President, Tryna, Beaufort and Willem, plus Jonas, the ‘sparewheel’ and back up. They would be transferring our luggage to Heuningvlei, with option for hikers to ride on the cart or walk the trail.
Having been sitting all the way from Cape Town, we all opted to start the trail on foot and the cart went ahead of us with the luggage. This section of the trail follows an old jeep track that is no longer in regular use, but is suitable for the donkey cart to negotiate at a reasonable pace. Within a few hundred metres of the start of the trail it is easy to forget that there is a tar road in the near vicinity. The rocky outcrops, randomly balance boulders, sculptured shapes, deep valleys and high peaks absorb one quickly in to the wilderness environment. There is no formal hiking guide on this section, with Gert stopping his charges from time to time to allow walkers to catch up.
I opted to experience to donkey cart ride on a section of the trail to rest my legs and to enjoy Gert’s dry humour and his interaction with the animals. On a rocky road, a donkey cart is a bumpy, bone jarring experience and not the most comfortable form of transport. Most reasonably fit hikers will probably opt to walk most of the route. It is a bit of fun however and amazing to see how these hardy animals keep their footing, negotiating the rough terrain with some steep slopes, particularly on the downhill sections. The Afrikaans term ‘stadig oor die klippe’ (slowly over the stones) comes to mind. Being a jeep track the walking is reasonably easy and it takes about three hours to cover the 12km distance.
Cederberg Heritage Trail
The Cederberg Mountains start about 200 km from Cape Town, are approximately 100km from one end to the other. The Cederberg Wilderness covers an area of 710 km 2 (275 miles 2) a region known for its unusual rock formations, spectacular views, fynbos, rooibos tea and an isolation that is good for the soul. It is a hiker’s paradise, with trails covering all grades of hiking from short easy walks to strenuous overnight trail.
The Cederberg Heritage Route Trails are a group of six trails that can be walked in true Slackpacker style: your luggage is transported and meals provided – you need only carry your day pack and a guide shows you the way. This does not mean that the hiking is not challenging, but the options mean that you can choose the level that suites you. Centred in Clanwilliam, it is a community based initiative where you are guided by a local guide, with hospitality and logistical support provided by members of the local community.
The Wupperthal Trail (one of the six), was long on my ‘Bucket List’ of trails and in December 2014 I had an opportunity to join a group on this route. This particular section is known for the use of donkey carts as a means of transporting luggage and hikers if they so wish.
The start and Day 1 to follow …………………
PG Tops group. The day was cool and misty, great weather for a trek up Platteklip Gorge. It cleared sufficiently for us to see the magnificent views from the top of Table Mountain and on the cable car ride down. There may have been a few stiff legs the next morning.
Greyton-McGregor Hiking Trail
The Boesmanskloof Trail winds through the only gap in the rugged Riviersonderend mountain range. It is in the Robertson Karoo region of the south-western Cape. The trail links the small towns of McGregor in the north to Greyton in the south. It has become on of the most popular trails in the Western Cape, especially as the beautiful colonial-style town of Greyton lies at the one end.
The length of the trail is approximately 15,8 km and may be hiked within one day. It can be started from either McGregor or Greyton . While the trail lies just outside Greyton , it only commences 14 km to the south of McGregor at Die Galg .
Hikers may often choose to walk the trail there and back (a total of 28 km) and overnight in either of the two towns. Another delightful option is to
begin the trail at McGregor and walk to Greyton
McGregor(Onverwacht Flora Accommodation)