See the Cederberg risen from the ashes

Winona Griggs

Introducing the Majestic Cederberg

Have you ever witnessed something truly remarkable? I have. Imagine looking out onto a landscape that has been shaped by the forces of nature, where beauty and resilience intertwine. In the heart of South Africa lies the Cederberg, an awe-inspiring region that has endured the test of time.

When I think of the Cederberg, I can’t help but marvel at its ability to rise from the ashes. It’s almost as if it has an innate power to regenerate itself, showcasing the true meaning of resilience. This remote wilderness is a testament to the wonders of nature, an ever-changing masterpiece that captures the imagination.

As you explore the Cederberg, you’ll discover a tapestry of contrasting landscapes. One moment you’ll find yourself engulfed in lush vegetation, surrounded by vibrant colors and the sweet melody of birdsong. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, the scenery transforms into something entirely different.

Picture this: towering sandstone cliffs reaching towards the heavens, their rugged crevices a testament to the passage of time. Jagged rock formations offer a glimpse into the forces that shaped this land, while ancient cave paintings silently tell stories of the past. It’s a place where the echo of history can still be heard, reverberating through the ages.

But the beauty of the Cederberg isn’t just limited to its landscapes. The region is also home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Rare and endangered species find solace here, hidden away from the chaos of the modern world. It’s a sanctuary for nature, a place where one can truly connect with the wild.

If you’re an adventurer at heart, the Cederberg offers endless opportunities to explore. Whether you’re hiking through its rugged terrain, rock climbing its majestic cliffs, or simply marveling at its breathtaking vistas, there’s something for everyone. The sense of freedom that accompanies such an adventure is unparalleled.

Now, I won’t deny that the Cederberg can be a challenging place. Its remote location and unpredictable weather can make any excursion a test of endurance. But it’s precisely this duality that makes it so captivating. The Cederberg is both a haven and a challenge, a place where one can disconnect from the world and reconnect with their own inner strength.

So, I invite you to come and witness the majesty of the Cederberg for yourself. Step into a world where nature reigns supreme and beauty flourishes in even the harshest of environments. It’s a journey you won’t soon forget.

See the Cederberg risen from the ashes

Hey there! If you’re looking for adventure, I’ve got just the thing for you. After those big fires in 2016, things are finally starting to get back to normal in this beautiful place. Now is the perfect time to hit the road and see it all for yourself!

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See the Cederberg risen from the ashes

The breathtaking Wolfberg Cracks are situated near the Woldberg Arch and are definitely worth the challenging, two-hour hike from Sanddrif. Just take a look at this photo by Chris Davies!

There are only a handful of places on Earth where you can simply hop in a car, leave behind a bustling city of millions, and in just a few hours find yourself surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the wilderness, with only the stars as your companions.

Without a doubt, my absolute favorite road trip destination is the Cederberg region. Unfortunately, devastating wildfires in 2016 resulted in the closure of two beloved attractions in the area – the Wolfberg Cracks and Arch. More than a year has passed, but environmental assessments are underway and there is hope that they will soon reopen. If all goes well, spring of 2018 will be the perfect time to pay them a visit.

If you’re looking for the best way to get from Cape Town to your destination, the route I recommend is through Bainskloof Pass. It’s an incredible journey with twists, turns, and breathtaking views that are unmatched. And the best part is, it’s just the beginning of a series of amazing passes on your way!

From Bainskloof Pass, you’ll continue on Michell’s Pass, which will take you into the charming town of Ceres. This pass offers its own unique beauty and will leave you in awe of the surrounding landscapes.

Next, you’ll encounter Gydo Pass, which will take you up onto the Koue Bokkeveld and Op Die Berg. These areas are known for their stunning scenery and will make you feel like you’re in a different world.

But the adventure doesn’t stop there! After that, you’ll come across Blinkberg, the first of many gravel passes that are still easily accessible by sedan. While there is some tar at the top, the majority of this pass is gravel, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the landscape.

So, if you’re ready for an unforgettable journey filled with stunning views and exciting twists and turns, these passes are the perfect choice for you. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the best routes Cape Town has to offer!

See the Cederberg risen from the ashes

Wow, would you look at that! The Wolfberg Arch stretches out over nine kilometers and takes a leisurely 4.5 hours to walk from Sanddrif Holiday Resort. Talk about a scenic adventure!

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Once you pass through Blinkberg Pass, you know you’ve arrived in the heart of the Cederberg. Timing is everything here, as the late afternoon light paints the Klipbokberg in stunning pastel shades of orange and red, giving this place a unique and magical atmosphere.

I don’t know about you, but my top choice for accommodations in this area is Sanddrif Holiday Resort. They have a fantastic camping and cottage setup, plus an incredible swimming river that will take your breath away. And the best part? It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Wolfberg Cracks, which you can reach with an easy two-hour hike from the campsite.

When I go hiking, I make it a point to visit the Cracks early in the morning. That’s when the red cliffs provide some shade, and the fissures look absolutely mesmerizing. It’s like this hidden gem that not everyone knows about, and there’s a certain thrill in discovering it.

After a delicious lunch, I highly recommend taking a drive along the Wupperthal Loop. The views from Uitkyk Pass are absolutely stunning, and it’s worth the detour. As you make your way along the Rondegat River to Clanwilliam and Pakhuis Pass, you’ll see why this road is often considered one of the most beautiful in Cape Town.

Now, let me tell you about Pakhuis Pass. It’s an incredible sight to behold. The boulder and cliff formations look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book set on Mars. It’s a magical landscape that’s hard to put into words.

Just a quick heads up – if you don’t have a sturdy high-clearance vehicle or a 4×4, you’ll have to turn back at Pakhuis Pass. The road from there to Wupperthal is pretty smooth, but south to Sanddrif, it becomes a rocky 4×4 track with sandy sections. Don’t rush it, though. Take your time and soak in the beauty of the surroundings. It’s better to be a little late and fully enjoy the experience.

Before you head back to camp, make sure you don’t miss the last light along the Tra-Tra River Valley. It’s only a few kilometers away, and trust me, it’s a sight you don’t want to miss. The way the light filters through the valley is simply breathtaking.

Heading home, I suggest you take a little detour after Blinkberg Pass. Instead of going straight home, turn east and venture over Katbakkies Pass. You’ll make your way across the beautiful Swartruggens hills and arrive at the marvelous Tankwa Karoo. As you descend onto the R355, you’ll notice the Tankwa Padstal just a short distance to the north. It’s incredible how such a tiny place can catch your eye from up here.

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If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend stopping by the Tankwa Padstal. It’s the perfect spot to refuel and grab some delicious padkos for the journey back to Cape Town. Trust me, their selection is top-notch. It’ll definitely make the three-hour drive much more enjoyable.

See the Cederberg risen from the ashes

Roads in the Cederberg have spectacular views of the Wolfberg Arch. Photos by Chris Davies.

7 Cederberg Highlights

1. Calabash Bush Pub is a fantastic place to have lunch if you’re on the Ceres side of Bainskloof Pass. You can enjoy a delicious burger and chips while sitting on their wooden sundeck. It only costs R65. You can call them at 0233551844.

2. Sanddrif Holiday Resort is located in the Cederberg and offers shaded campsites and cozy cottages by the Matjies River. Camping starts at R55 per person, while cottages start at R230 per person. You can check in at Cederberg Wines and reach them at 0274822825

3. Cederberg Wines is just a short drive from Sanddrif. They have a small store where you can get basic supplies, wood, meat, and of course, local wine and beer. You can also do wine tasting there from Monday to Saturday, which costs R20 per person. If you’re interested in hiking, they offer Wolfberg hiking permits starting at R50 per person. Call them at 0274822827

4. Traveller’s Rest Farm Stall & Restaurant is a fantastic place to stop for lunch on the Brandewyn River. You’ll find it just before the Wupperthal turn-off. Their eland stew is a must-try, and it only costs R100. Give them a call at 0274821824.

5. Wupperthal Padstal may not have a huge selection, but it’s a great spot to grab a refreshing cooldrink for only R10. It’s perfect if you’re up for the 4×4 track back to Sanddrif.

6. Tankwa Padstal is a small, yet important, detour on the R355 before you head back to Cape Town via Ceres. They have a good variety of snacks, and on Sundays, they serve substantial meals. Just remember, they’re closed on Wednesdays.

7. Harvest Table Bistro is located at Winterberg Mountain Inn, just outside Ceres. They serve mouthwatering farm-style stews and pies starting at R95. Call them at 0232310860.

This story first appeared in the January 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

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