Holidays to Cederberg, South Africa
Mesmerising you with its wild, raw and dramatic landscapes, the mountainous Cederberg region is just two hours from Cape Town and is the place to head if you’re a wilderness lover in search of some of the country’s best camping, rock climbing and hiking.
This stunning 100km mountain range is part of the Cape Floral region; a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and biodiversity hotspot comprised of 13 protected areas throughout the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. The sandstone mountains that the Cederberg is so famous for are characteristically red in colour, richly tinted by iron oxides, and sharply defined with twisted peaks and sharp, jutting edges. They have a distinctly prehistoric appearance, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that there have been a number of important fossil discoveries in recent years, including the fossilised remains of primitive fish dating back some 450 million years to the Ordovician Period.
Most of the Cederberg is officially classified as a wilderness reserve, where ancient mountain trails pass by dense scrubland and intriguing rock formations. Some of the most curious looking are at the Stadsaal Caves, where cavernous domes and mysterious archways beckon, and the rock walls are painted with thousand-year-old images depicting a time when elephants wandered freely.
There are over 300km of hiking trails in the Cederberg than wind along rugged and mountainous terrain; the Algeria Forest station is the starting point for many of them. There are short, easy valley walks through pine forests, waterfall walks of varying lengths and longer hikes that zigzag their way up the mountains passing natural, clear rock pools where you can stop to swim and cool off. For the truly adventurous, there are wilderness hikes lasting up to 7 days. One of the more famous is a 2-day trek to the Wolfberg Arch; the trails are steep, there are boulders to squeeze through and a good level of fitness is required, but the views are truly spectacular and you will be rewarded with some of the richest sunsets you have ever seen as brilliant ribbons of purple and orange dance across the sky and cast shadows off this incredible natural archway. If that all sounds like a bit too much walking though, you can enjoy a different perspective by taking a scenic flight and gazing down at the sandstone mountains from above. However you choose to view this rugged, natural wilderness, you can’t fail to appreciate the intensity of its natural, unspoilt beauty.