South Africa is a country that is best known for its beautiful landscape, cultural diversity, and phenomenal natural beauty. The Cederberg Wilderness Area which is just 3hrs (200km) away from Cape Town is the best place to enjoy all that the country encompasses. Visiting the site will give you a chance to disconnect from the rest of the world and enjoy nature at its best.
The place acquired its name from the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar, a tree that is endemic to the region and can be found mostly in the remote areas on the upper side of the mountain. There were millions of trees in the area but due to over-exploitation, the tress became extinct. This prompted the area to be proclaimed a wilderness area in 1973 and it received World Heritage status in 2004. An initiative was created to help increase the number of trees by planting 8,000 trees each year in the reserve of about 5,250 hectares.
The area is characterized by sandstone rocks that have varying colors like orange, cream, and yellow. The rocks have undergone many years of fluctuating weather conditions including rainfall and heavy winds that have seen them take on different amusing shapes, for instance one that has been dubbed ‘Lot’s wife’ that can be viewed at the Stadsaal caves on a path signposted ‘Lot’s wife.’
If you want to explore Cederberg, especially over several days, one of the best options for accommodation is Gecko Creek Lodge. It’s situated right beside Cederberg and serves as the perfect basecamp for your outings into the Wilderness Area. You can choose between tented or cabin accommodation options. These are simple and are meant as sleeping quarters only, but there are several cooking facilities on site, showers, a pool, and even the possibility of getting a massage. This is not mentioning the magnificent nature that surrounds the place.
Animals and birds
Cederberg is a hub for both animals and birds. There are over 100 species of birds which can be spotted as one is taking a walk or hiking. For bird watchers, this is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the view as you watch birds build nests, interact with each other, and sing their melodies.
Animals like baboons, grysbok, dassies, cape fox, African wild cat, and the duiker can be easily spotted within the area. Porcupines, honey-badgers, and aardvark can be seen on rare occasions while the leopard, being the main predator in Cederberg, is very elusive due to its shyness. One might be lucky and end up spotting them or come across tracks they have left behind.
Cederberg is home to the armadillo lizard and 16 snake species. The snakes are not so common but sometimes, the cape cobra and the puff adder can be found along tracks that are rarely used. This is why it is advisable to hike or walk in groups and have a detailed map of the area to ensure one stays safe and on course.
Area’s climate and vegetation
The weather is generally pleasant all through the year, though it rains between the months of May and September. During this time, it snows in the higher altitude areas and the rain makes some roads impassable and the bridge at Oliphant River sometimes floods. This, however, should not deter you from experiencing the beauty that awaits once you reach the reserve. It is recommended visitors carry clothes that will withstand all types of weather in case of any sudden changes.
Mountain fynbos is the main vegetation found in the area. The Clanwilliam daisies, protea, and the silky conebush are able to grow on the lower slopes while the purply-blue ridderspoor, buchu and rooibos tea grows against the lower cliffs. The signature Clanwilliam cedar grows higher up the mountains.
Apart from enjoying the beautiful scenery that is the Cederberg wilderness area, there are numerous activities which visitors can enjoy for days on end. These include:
Caves and rock art
The Khoi and San people from South Africa have been inhabitants of Cederberg for thousands of years. They have cultivated their culture within those caves and made paintings of various things including elephants which can be viewed at Stadsaal caves and Matjiesrivier reserve. They are very interesting people who, by the way, have been featured in the famous film ‘The Gods Must be Crazy.’
Jumpstart your muscles by engaging in one of the most popular activities at Cederberg. Rock climbing enthusiasts will find this place one of the best places to do what they love most. At Capenature’s Rockland site, you will get to experience the real beauty of Cederberg’s natural landscape.
Hiking and walking
There are numerous hiking trails to choose from which last from 3hours to 8days to complete. During the hike, you get to see Cederberg’s mountains, waterfalls, and rock art. There are hiking options for beginners, intermediaries, and experts.
Donkey cart adventures
Explore the vast area of the wilderness while on a donkey adventure trail. After a close to 3 hours ride, visitors end up at Heuningvlei village. This village is best known for their hospitable nature and their ability to produce high quality dried fruits and rooibos tea.
The Cederberg wilderness is the ideal place to take time away and reconnect with your spiritual self. It is quiet and serene.
How can visitors help make Cederberg Wilderness Area a better place?
There is a saying that goes ‘leave a place better than you left it’ and this should be standing principle for all that get to experience the spectacular Cederberg wilderness area. It is through care, preservation, and improvement that the reserve will continue to shine through the test of time.
- Participate in the annual planting of 8,000 trees in the area. This ensures that the Clanwilliam cedar tree takes one step away from becoming extinct.
- Practice responsible behavior when visiting the area. Do not carry firearms, pick flowers or seeds, and carry all rubbish out of the wilderness. Leave no trace of intrusion.
- Do not light fires in the areas as it may result in huge fires that affect the animals, vegetation and the locals as was the case back in 2016
The Cederberg wilderness area is truly a magnificent place to experience all that nature has to offer. The rocky mountains, the scenic nature, and the marvelous wildlife will leave you impressed and in need to experience more and more. You could also just relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the undisturbed area.