Why the Cederberg makes an awesome side-trip from Cape Town

By Ashworth Africa, April 14, 2019

Just two-to-three hours outside Cape Town, the Cederberg is an area known for its rugged mountains, sites of ancient rock art and being the only place in the world that produces rooibos tea. Here are some reasons why you should make time for a side-trip from Cape Town.

Cederberg
Cederberg rock in the sunrise glow. Credit: Philippe Verheyden, Unsplash.

Epic trails

The Cederberg trails are known for being amazing for hiking, mountain biking and trail running. Explore the protected Cederberg Wilderness Reserve, where you can hike through 71,000 hectares of fynbos and craggy mountains. You can either take a short route that might take around one or two hours, or head out for the whole day. You can’t mountain bike in the Cederberg Wilderness Reserve, but you can on many private farms that allow access to cyclists for a fee.

Cederberg
Cederberg scenery. Credit: Flickr user Vynz101.

Luxury lodges

Two of our suggested places to stay in the Cederberg are Bushmans Kloof, a long-standing favourite, and Cederberg Ridge, which opened in October 2018. Both are on private property, so guests can go walking, cycling or running right from the lodges, with plenty of organised activities for exploring further afield.

Cederberg Ridge
Cederberg Ridge.

Ancient rock art 

The Cederberg is one of four Southern African hotspots of San bushmen rock art. The San people were in this area thousands of years ago – the oldest painting in the Cederberg dates back 7,000 years. One of the best places to see a lot of San rock art is on the five-kilometre Sevilla rock art trail, where there are nine sites. It’s best experienced with a guide who can explain the history of the San and what we know about the incredibly well-preserved rock art.

Rock art
Examples of San rock art.

Rooibos, wine and beer

The Cederberg is the only place in the world that produces rooibos tea, a caffeine-free tea known for its many health benefits. You can learn about the tea and the various flavours it’s blended with at a tasting session in Clanwilliam, the main town of the Cederberg. Wine is also produced up here and one of the most popular places to sample these high-altitude vintages is Cederberg Wines, which produced its first bottle in 1976. And, of course, there’s a craft beer brewery, too: check out NieuwBrew, the first Cederberg microbrewery, which makes beers such as Jan Pampoen, a spicy pumpkin ale, and the Chubbyhead dry stout.

Cederberg Wines
Cederberg Wines.

Stargazing

Being so far from major cities, the sky here is dark enough for some stellar stargazing. On clear nights (which are frequent), you can spend time learning about the constellations with a guide – or just admire the stars from the terrace of your suite with a glass of chilled chenin blanc.

Cederberg stars
A starry Cederberg sky. Credit: Kyle Goetsch, Unsplash.

History

Aside from ancient rock art, there’s a lot of recent history to learn about in the Cederberg. A good place to find out about how this area was first populated by colonists and developed as it did is the Ou Tronk Museum in Clanwilliam, which is housed in the town’s old jail.

Clanwilliam church
The Dutch Reformed Church – aka the ‘Flower Church’ – of Clanwilliam. Credit: Allan Watt, Flickr.

Wildflowers 

The most popular time to travel to the Cederberg is during the Western Cape’s wildflower season – here the blooms are at their most impressive in August, though it’s still possible to see the flowers in September. At this time of year, the hills are carpeted in beautiful wildflowers – a truly stunning sight. The annual Clanwilliam Wildflower Show is held over August in the town’s ‘Flower Church’, which is filled with displays of the region’s many different varieties of blossoming flora.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers at Bushmans Kloof.

Want to add a Cederberg tour to your Cape Town visit? Let us know!

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