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.
The first three days of the tour with Shelley and Meier Altman, from Perth, Australia.
A brilliant few days in the Cederberg, the weather was kind and we had some great hiking.
Tour organised by Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This was one of the most interesting and diverse tours I have done this year. It included three days in Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Cracks and Wolfberg Arch and the Savilla Rock Art Trail, before heading down the West Coast to visit Bird Island at Lamberts Bay and finally heading home along the West Coast.
I met up with Shelley and Meier at their accommodation in Milnerton. We got off to a good early start from Cape Town and headed for the Cederberg via du Toitskloof, Slanghoek Valley, Ceres and the Gydo Pass. I had not done the southerly route before, so the Gydo Pass and the road between Op-die-berg and Matjies River Nature Reserve were new to me. That alone was a worthwhile experience as it is a most spectacular pass. The tar ends about 20 km outside Op-die-berg and it is not long before the fantastic rock formations of the Cederberg start making their presence felt. Being the end of a fairly wet winter, the stark Cederberg terrain is relieved by plenty of green patches and there are quite a few strongly flowing streams along the route. The patches of vineyards, fruit trees and olive groves in the deep valleys add to the add another dimension as the brown ribbon of road winds into the distance.
We arrived at Sanddrif a bit early for the room to be ready and decided to head off immediately to tackle the walk to the Maltese Cross, having lunch on the way. It is very easy to underestimate this walk as it is often regarded as a warm up for the longer walk through the Wolfberg Cracks to the Wolfberg Arch. It is quite deceptive and tougher than it looks as you are climbing roughly 600 meters, and the path is quite direct to the first ridge. With regular stops however and a bit of mutual encouragement we made it up the steepest section. Once on the ridge it is a bit easier going with the trek up the last section of valley to the plateaux temptingly revealing the top of the ‘Cross’ before it disappears again.
Suddenly you are on flat plateaux and the magnificent rock structure of the Maltese Cross dominates the path ahead. If you have not seen it before, nothing can prepare you for the size and uniqueness of this rock outcrop. We took a slow walk to the base, with Shelley shooting off the path to get a different angle for a photograph or seeing a special shot. If is only proper to spend some time here to appreciate the ‘Cross’ and the surrounding environment. It was also time to unpack the lunch that we had brought along and enjoy some refreshment.
The walk back is much easier and we were able to appreciate the magnificent views all the more. We were back at the car by 4p.m. and ready to head for our overnight accommodation at Sanddrif. The timing was good to get the fire going to cook some angel fish for dinner. After a long drive and great walk and the good company of Shelley and Meier it was a satisfying day, but did not take much to get to sleep once the head hit the pillow.
Filed under Cederberg, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Flower Tours, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Tours, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails
The Cedarberg is always an amazing place to hike, make contact with nature and generally experience the outdoors. I expanded my own experience of this with a hike down the Sevilla Trail, led by Kevin Matheson of Afruka Eco Tours. It is an easy two hour walk that takes you to a series of nine sites of bushman paintings. There is a real feel of what it must have been like in the years before European settlers inhabited the Cape and the indigenous people lived off the land.
This is part of the experience offered by Kevin on the Cedarberg Wilderness overnight trip.