Cederberg Wilderness: A Lesson in What Not to Do
How to get there from Capetown: Join the N7 at Capetown and travel north until after Pikenierskloof Pass. You're then in Oliphants River Valley at the foot of the Cederbergs. The two main towns of Citrusdal and Clanwilliam are in this valley and the main road to the central Cederberg (which includes the Algeria Forest Station, Cederberg Cellars, Stadsaal Caves, etc. is signposted off N7 approximately 25 km north of Citrusdal with a low water bridge.
How to get to the Algeria Forest Station (where you can pick up a selection of hiking permits): Take the central Cederberg road (roughly 30 km outside Citrusdal) over the low water bridge and then continue over the pass. If you are going south from Clanwilliam, take the Clamwilliam Dam Road to turn left to Algeria.
How to get to Dwarsrivier Farm (where you can pick up your permits for the Stadsaal Caves): Continue driving straight for about 30 km and you will see a fork in the road. Go right and follow signs for Sandriff and/ or Cederberg Cellars. Keep in mind that they are closed for lunch from about noon to 2 p.m. daily. The cost for a day permit to Stadsaal for two people is R80 and can be paid via credit card, though I recommend having cash on hand (see tips below).
TIPS & ADVICE
- Plan for an overnight stay. This is well worth it, if not only for the added time to explore, but for the chance to meet some locals and experience some amazing hospitality. Rooms come in around R500 for two people per night and some lodges have food or restaurants available to guests. Accommodations range from wine estates and farms to huts and campsites.
- Bring a few hundred rand in cash. Though even the most remote of places in the Cederberg have the ability to swipe credit cards, the Internet connection is not always reliable and can often go down for hours or days.
- Drive an all-terrain vehicle. As much as I thought our little Chevy Spark was the shit, it just didn't cut it for our Cederberg trip. Matt and I were so afraid we'd pop a tire on all that gravel that, what should have been a two-hour drive, turned into a seven-hour one. Maybe we were just being too cautious, but I seriously recommend taking a truck, Jeep or LandRover if you can find one.
- Fill up your tank. I cannot emphasize this one enough. You don't want to get stuck in the middle of 600-square-miles of mountains and scrub brush when there's not a soul in sight and the nearest gas station is an hour's drive away. Oh, and all those bizarre rock formations around you? They're the perfect hiding places for leopards. Yeah, no thanks. I'm making sure I have more than enough gas on hand.
- Call/ plan ahead. Especially if you're venturing out to the Cederbergs in the winter months. Believe it or not, because of their elevation, many of the hiking trails and roads become impassible due to high accumulations of snow. It's always good just to make sure there is a bed/ food available if you run into any trouble and that you can get to where you need to go. Call ahead.