South Africa is well known for its wilderness areas and
the many walking trails that allow you to explore them.
This week we will visit one of the premier wilderness
areas of the Western Cape.
Clanwilliam and the Cederberg are about a three hour
drive to the north of Cape Town.
When you arrive in the area you will feel as if you have
gone back in time to another world far away
from anything civilised.
The Cedarberg is a massive rock wilderness where boulders
and rocks have been shaped by the sands of time into weird
and wonderful rock sculptures.
It is an area that was once inhabited by the bushmen.(
San as they are called these days.)
Evidence of their stay in the area can be found in the
many caves and rock overhangs found in the mountains.
There are hundreds of rock paintings and etchings to be
found all over the Cedarberg and there are many of
these that have yet to be discovered.
You could even unearth one of them while visiting the area.
The Cedarberg is home to the leopard.
It is one of the few areas in the Western Cape where they are
able to roam free in the mountains and where they are also protected.
In the northern Cederberg, are several dams which provide
relief to animals during the intense summer heat.
Winters can be very cold with snow in the mountains.
There are some well known rock formations in the area and
I will name some of them.
The Maltese Cross which is a large rock that has been
carved by wind and weather into the shape of a cross.
It is high up in the mountains and can be seen from a distance.
The Wolfberg Arch which is a large rock that has been hollowed
out by wind and weather is a five hour hike up into the
mountains from Algeria.
There are a number of farms in the valleys between the
mountains and they cultivate grapes and produce wines.
On a farm known as Sanddrift is the Matjies river. A couple
of miles north of the farm if you follow the course of the
river you eventually came to a big rock formation where the
river flows down from the mountains and forms a big rock pool.
The locals called it” Maalgat” (Whirlpool). When we were there
it was very calm and flat.
I imagine that when the river is in flood it could
turn into a whirlpool.
The pool is very deep and is lovely to swim in during
the heat of the day.
During summer months the Cedarberg gets very hot.
Not only is the Cedarberg mountain range a wilderness area
but it has also been declared a nature reserve and is
managed from the Algeria Forest Station
The forest station is situated about 40 kilometres
north of Citrusdal and is built on the banks of the
Rondegat river. (Round Hole) where the authorities
have established a campsite which can accommodate
46 caravans and tents.
This shady terrain in idyllic forest surroundings makes
an ideal base for hikes in the area.
The Reserve is situated between the two small towns of
Citrusdal and Clanwilliam and is about 70000 hectares in size.
A number of animals can be found there.
The largest cat is the leopard followed by the caracal
which looks like a lynx.
There are a variety of antelope as well.
Springbok, klipspringers, and reedbuck to name a few.
The rare mountain zebra can be found on the bushy
hillsides where they graze.
Smaller animals such as meerkats and mongooses live in
the reserve and hunt scorpions for their supper.
As there is much to see and do in this part of the
Western Cape I recommend it to the visitor who
wants to get away from it all.
In this wilderness you can walk the trails, climb the
mountains, swim in the rivers and rock pools, view bushmen
paintings, discover your own, or just find yourself a nice
quiet spot near the river in the campsite and relax.
You need to do that?
We'll see you in the Cedarberg soon.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Page updated 12.5.2015