Cederberg is a little known, highly addictive mountain range that calls you back, time after time.
The Cederberg feels like the final frontier in South African tourism. It’s in the Western Cape, but it’s not a beach holiday. It’s rugged if you like it that way, but still absolutely accessible and perfect for a family vacation.
The Cederberg region lies just more than 200km straight north from Cape Town. It’s a vast complex of valleys, mountains, flat(ish) farmland and orchards, multiple nature reserves and hidden getaway spots.
Enter the Valley of Plenty
At the heart lies our country’s premier fruit production industry. This means that the roads, used to transport anything from apples and pears to nectarines, cherries, and citrus fruit by truck to various distribution points, are good. And by “good” I mean GOOD. If, however, you want to head into the more remote parts of the Cederberg mountains, a vehicle with some ground clearance is advised!
History made real
The area is rich in history. Many of the smaller towns and hamlets at the foot of the mountains featured in the formative years of the colonization of the Cape. Places like Ceres, Citrusdal and Clanwilliam all merit a visit and offer wonderful (and kid/pet-friendly) restaurants, farm stalls and cafés.
Get out and about…
There’s no shortage of activities with adventure levels to suit all ages and interests. Go on easy walks and hikes to ancient cave complexes with rock art dating back to the very dawn of man. Or test your mettle with more extreme treks across mountain ridges, mountain bike and running trails. For a more sedate taste of the area, why not try the horse rides, river excursions, wine tasting and vineyard tours that are available throughout this picturesque landscape.
The Stadsaal caves are a hauntingly beautiful complex of caves. They were inhabited by ancient humans who left their marks on the cave walls. The voices of countless families who found refuge there, echo over the open land. You hear them as you stand atop the rock plateaus, looking out over what must have been a harsh and foreboding valley below.
What makes it magical?
The Cederberg Conservancy was set up in 1997 as a voluntary agreement between landowners of 22 different properties. It ensures that this important area is preserved and developed sustainably. The pristine and breathtaking biodiversity of the Cederberg is, in itself, good enough of a reason to visit.
This allows for a wide range of accommodation options. They all seem to share a common factor, even though they are each privately and individually owned and run. Dotted around the landscape you will find beautiful basic camping facilities. Both in the valleys and higher up in the mountains and luxury self-catering stone houses that can sleep anywhere from 4 to 12 people. Regardless of the comfort level you require, you’ll be able to find a spot to rest your head.
BURNing to see more?
Just northeast of the Cederberg you’ll find the Tankwa Karoo National Park. It is one of the most arid regions of South Africa, receiving less than 100mm rain annually. This serene park is the perfect place to find pristine solitude. Here you can recentre yourself in the beautiful desolation of a truly alien landscape. This desert bowl between mountain ranges plays host to the Afrikaburn festival. It leaves you feeling humbled and keenly aware of what we are doing to our planet with our devastatingly consumerist lifestyles. The next festival will take place from the 25th of April until the 1st of May 2022. Get your tickets here! https://tickets.afrikaburn.com/
What about a beach day?
If you venture almost straight west of the Cederberg region you can cruise down the west coast of our country. And if the wind lets up you can spend a day in the West Coast National Park. Apparently, there are usually about 4 days a year where you can be outside without risk of being blown over. It encompasses large parts of the tranquil Langebaan lagoon and estuary. It has sandy beaches and kid-friendly waters. Furthermore, it has a wealth of indigenous fynbos and rolling plains of Cape thatching reed.
Sneak in some education
You can also take a drive to the West Coast Fossil Park which is just outside of Langebaan. It gives a wonderful insight into the prehistoric narrative of this part of our country.
Solitude, self-awareness (and sandwiches)
The Cederberg and inland west coast region of South Afrika, from Tankwa to the Kouebokkeveld, is a uniquely South African experience. More so than Kruger Park or Clifton Beach, in my opinion.
It speaks to our history and our shared origins. It shows us what can come of responsible community-based land ownership. It’s the heartland of our export trade, it’s the home of Rooibos Tea, and the birthplace of the delicious brioche-like “Ouma beskuit” (look out for it – every farm stall and local shop has its own version of it!)
For more information about activities, accommodation and the region in general, visit www.cederberg.co.za
Find information about the West Coast National Park;
and the West Coast Fossil Park, here: