A bold and jagged outcrop of the Western Cape fold escarpment, the Cederberg range is one of the most magical wilderness areas in the Western Cape. Rising with a striking presence on the eastern side of the Olifants River Valley, around 200km north of Cape Town, these high sandstone mountains and long, dry valleys manage to combine accessibility with remote harshness, offering something for hikers, campers, naturalists and rock climbers.
The Cederberg Wilderness Area, flanking the N7 between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, was created to protect the silt-free waters of the Cederberg catchment area, but it also provides a recreational sanctuary with over 250km of hiking trails. In a number of places, the red-hued sandstone has been weathered into grotesque, gargoyle-like shapes and a number of memorable natural features. Throughout the area there are also numerous San rock-art sites, an active array of Cape mountain fauna, from baboon and small antelope to leopard, caracal and aardwolf, and some notable montane fynbos flora, including the gnarled and tenacious Clanwilliam cedar and the rare snow protea.
The Cederberg is easily reached from Cape Town on the N7: the two main, though very small, towns of Citrusdal and Clanwilliam lie just off the highway near, respectively, the southern and northern tips of the mountain range, but are not in the mountains themselves, and are not the places to base yourself if you want to hike.Read More
Cederberg rock art
Cederberg rock art
The Cederberg has around 2500 known rock-art sites, estimated to be between one and eight thousand years old. They are the work of the first South Africans, hunter gatherers known as San or Bushmen, the direct descendants of some of the earliest Homo sapiens who lived in the Western Cape 150,000 years ago.
One of the best ways to see rock art is on a self-guided 4km walk from Traveller’s Rest Farm along the Sevilla Trail, which takes in ten sites.
Another way to see paintings is on a half-day tour to Warmhoek site near Clanwilliam, run by the excellent Living Landscape Project, 18 Park St in Clanwilliam (027 482 1911, www.cllp.uct.ac.za), and led by competent local guides. The project is the brainchild of archeologist John Parkington, from the University of Cape Town, whose books on rock art in the Cederberg (The Mantis and the Moon and Cederberg Rock Paintings) offer the best interpretation of the puzzling and beautiful images you’ll see delicately painted on rocks and overhangs.