Magical Cederberg Mountains:
For years my family have been telling me about the Cederberg mountains, but as I was living abroad for so long, I never got to visit. When my husband suggested we arrange a weekend away with friends, we decided that the magical Cederberg mountains was going to be our destination.
So, we packed, hit the road and were off on our adventure.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at Algeria Campsite, which is located at the foot of the Cederberg Mountain and alongside the Rondegat River. It is a grassy campsite with lots of trees to offer shaded campsites. There are chalets on site if you prefer not to camp.
There are other cottages to stay at in the surrounding towns. Staying at the campsite offers easy access to the walking and hiking routes which starts at the campsite. The river runs through the campsite and this is fantastic in summer as it is located within meters from the campsite. Going for a late afternoon swim is perfect for cooling down in hot weather, especially in summer as temperatures can reach forty degrees and can feel a lot hotter due to being inland. I also find listening to water quite therapeutic, especially a night, so staying here was perfect for our needs that weekend.
Sharing is caring:
There are lots of insects, birds and other life, so when walking around site, look out for salamanders’ early morning, catching some sun on the rocks. They did not appear to mind me photographing them. The ablution block at the campsite was home to some large spiders when we visited, 😊 which meant I checked, checked and checked again when I had to shower. I don’t mind spiders, but not huge ones that conveniently come out at night when you are not looking!
Take a hike to the Waterfalls in the Cederberg mountains which starts from the campsite. It took us just over an hour to hike to the Waterfalls. Wear sunscreen and a hat and make sure you have enough water to drink as the walk is mostly unshaded. I walked in walking shoes but there are rocky areas and it is slippery close to the waterfall, so hiking boots is better instead.
The First stop in the central Cederberg Mountains:
A stop at the San/Khoi rock art is a must on the way to the caves. ( It is a far way to drive so you may as well) The art is located in the central Cederberg mountain area. This site is best reached with a high clearance vehicle or one that can handle uneven gravel roads, as it is a lengthy drive on a gravel road.
The San people once populated the area. These paintings depict times when elephants roam the area and dates back between 300 and 6000 years. These depictions are all related to religious ceremonies. There was more than one rock painting site, but we did not find it as we got distracted by the captivating landscape.
Being in the vast open land, I cannot imagine how hard life must have been for the bushmen in this environment.
Stadsaal Caves, Cederberg Mountains:
This was my first visit to the Cederberg mountains and boy did it not disappoint! There is something about the vast landscape and weathering rocks that feel mystical. There are network of caves, tunnels and crevices with unspoilt views across this rugged landscape from almost every direction you look.
The caves are an explorer’s and photographers delight. We spent hours exploring, climbing and taking in the views. If you stay long enough you can witness the every changing shadows and play of light on the rocks, which makes for epic photographs!
We even found some graffiti dating back to the 1800’s in the caves! It’s crazy to think people were writing their names on rocks in quite elaborate fonts back then already. The graffiti dating back that far is considered historical rock art and is protected.
As the caves are located so remote within the Cederberg Mountain and we did not visit in peak season, there were less people around. This made it a lot more pleasant to explore. Depending on how much you want to explore these caves, you can spend anything from a few minutes to a good few hours exploring this rugged and captivating landscape. Allow for the time to drive to the rock paintings first if you are interested in visiting both!
Tips for visiting the Cederberg Mountains:
Go early or late afternoon as it gets quite hot in summer. It will be a shame to miss out on exploring due to heat. Visit in the cooler months if you don’t like crowds. Do wear a hat, apply sunscreen and carry a bottle of water with you. There are ablution facilities at the caves.
Permits are required to enter the park to access the rock paintings and caves, see Cape Nature website. There is an office at the Algeria Campsite where we purchased our permits. Check the website for opening times, as they may change in summer and winter.
How to get there:
Algeria campsite is located off the N7, a straightforward route from Cape Town. You can easily drive the short distance on the gravel road with a normal car/sedan. The closest towns are Citrusdale and Clan William.
This visit offered a good balance of outdoor adventure and campsite fun. There is still so much to explore in this area. I guess the rest of the Cederberg Mountains will have to wait until the next visit. Until then. Adventure awaits.