Five great Cederberg hikes

2013-01-23 08:55

If you feel the need to escape from it all and experience a bit of wonderful wildness, heading to the Cederberg area is always a good idea. Located about 200km from Cape Town (factor in a 3 hour drive, because of gravel roads), it's viable as a day outing, but if you have time to spare a weekend break is definitely the way to go. 

We check out five hiking trails worth exploring while there. Groups are limited to a maximum of 12 people per day. Permits are either available from Algeria Forest Station/campsite or Sanddrif. 

From Algeria

Algeria is Cape Nature's main campsite for the Cederberg Wilderness area, and the start and end point for a couple of the day hikes. 

Middelberg Waterfall walk

Distance: 4km
Time: 3 hour return 
Difficulty: Easy 

Highlights: A short, moderately steep walk up the mountain from Algeria Campsite. The route is clearly marked and ends at the picturesque of the Middelberg Waterfall - the perfect spot for a picnic and dip in the small pool. 

From Dwarsrivier/Sanddrif

Privately owned by Cederberg Cellars, Dwarsrivier is a few km along the dirt road from Algeria and also the point where many of the day hikes start and finish. 

Maltese Cross 

Distance: 7 kilometres
Time: 3,5 - 4 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Highlights: The easily recognizable footpath is marked with cairns pointing the way to the 5-storey rock formation, dubbed the Maltese Cross. The out-and-return route starts with a mild uphill climb and then an easy downhill return along the same route. The entire trail offers superb views of the Cederberg Mountain range. 

Lot's Wife & Window Rocks

Distance: 1,6km 
Time: 1 - 1 1/2 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Highlights: While you can drive, take a leisurely stroll from Dwarsrivier towards Algeria instead, until you see the Lot's Wife parking sign. Taking on the shape of a petrified praying woman if seen from the correct angle, it's no surprise why the intriguing rock was named after the Biblical woman who turned into a salt pillar when she looked back to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. From there you start a gentle walk to where the beautiful Window Rocks can be seen. 

Wolfberg cracks and arch

Time: 8 hours return
Difficulty: Tough, only for seasoned hikers

Highlights: Starting about 1,2km from Sanddrif at the foot of the Wolfberg, the trail takes you through three cracks in the rocks - of which the third one is the hardest to climb - and eventually the famous arch at the top. Although there is an alternative route via the Riff, the same route is recommended on returning from the Arch. When obtaining the passport, make sure you get proper directions for the route from the office staff. 

Stadsaal Cave and rock paintings

Distance: Okay, okay. It's not actually a hiking trail, but you can spend much of the day exploring and adventuring the area once you've reached it by car... and it really comes highly recommended. 
Time: Depends entirely on you!

Highlights: Once you've obtained your permit from any of the tourist offices in the area, head along the gravel road that leads to Ceres and look out for the Stadsaal Caves sign. A gate limits access to the area, but with the permit you will receive a key. First stop off at the well-preserved bushman paintings, depicting what seem to be elephants. From there, meander along to the large Stadsaal Cave, either on foot or by car. Here you will see some more modern kind of ‘rock art, ' including the names of ministers, writers and presidents that had been grafitied there by the men themselves.

Cape Nature has put together an extensive hiking guideline for visitors to their parks, check it out for useful tips and suggestions. 


 
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