The Cederberg Wilderness area offers some excellent walking opportunities. Given that it is a mountainous area, most of the walks in the central Cederberg involve some steep sections. But the paths are in good condition. There are also a number of shorter walks in the valleys which are flatter. Below I outline some of the classic walks in the central Cederberg. To the Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Cracks and the Wolfberg Arch as well as some other favourites of mine….
It is extremely hot in high summer. We don’t recommend that you plan to do major walking during the months of December to February, (even mid November and early March.) If you do walk in summer, you should start as early as possible i.e. 6 or 6.30am so that you return from your walk before the main heat of the day. Even starting early, you will need to take plenty of water with you, (2 litres per person minimum), sunblock, a wide brimmed hat and a light weight long sleeved shirt to cover up if necessary. Winter months are very cold in the mornings but with pleasant daytime temperatures, ideal for walking throughout the day, unless it is raining.
Permits for Stadsaal Caves, Maltese Cross and Wolfberg Cracks
You need to buy a day permit to walk in the Cederberg Wilderness Reserve. You can buy the permits for Stadsaal caves and the Bushmen paintings from either Mount Ceder Lodge or Dwarsrivier Farm/Sandrif Resort. Permits for the Maltese Cross and Wolfberg Cracks can only be purchased from Dwarsrivier Farm or Algeria Forest Station (Cape Nature headquarters for the Cederberg Wilderness Reserve.)
Walks in the Central Cederberg – Dwarsrivier Area
Stadsaal Caves & Bushmen paintings are found high in the central Cederberg beyond Cederberg Cellars & Sandrif Resort. They are a ‘must’ for all Cederberg visitors. Keen photographers could spend hours here capturing the play of light and shadows on the open caves and rock formations. Nearby there are some Bushmen rock paintings from an ancient time when elephants roamed freely through the Cederberg. This is also a great place for children to explore and play…
You will need to buy a permit, obtainable from Dwarsrivier farm or Mount Ceder. The permit will give you the combination code for the lock on the gate.
If travelling from Clanwilliam or Citrusdal, make it a day out and stop to visit Algeria Forest Station, the Cederberg Cellars and perhaps enjoy a hike or swim in the river at Algeria or Maalgat on the way back…
This is a flattish walk with some scrambling, which can be done after one of the other walks or as an alternative on a hot day. Collect a permit from Dwarsrivier Farm (see above). You go through their little resort, Sandrif, over the river and continue via the signposts. It is about 2km to a small parking place. The walk runs along the edge of the river where there are a number of places to paddle and relax. If you wish, you can continue to the end, with a little bit of scrambling, to a large and very deep pool below a waterfall. This is the Maalgat swimming hole which offers a delicious swimming option on hot summer days. Allow 20 minutes each way for the walk and whatever time you want to spend at the swimming hole. Recommended!
Maltese Cross Walk
Collect a permit from Dwarsrivier Farm and then follow their map to the start of the walk. (Drive for approx 0.7km in the direction of Clanwilliam, turn off to the left to follow the gravel road for approx 7km to a small parking place.) The path is very clear. It is a moderate uphill climb to the Maltese Cross with magnificent views of the Cederberg range and then a downhill return the same way. The cross is approx the height of a five storey building and begs the question of how on earth it got there! (In reality, the land and rock around it eroded away leaving this monolith behind.) The Maltese Cross takes about 3 hours including a break at the rock formation, allow 3½ to 4 hours if you take it slowly (7km).
Wolfberg Cracks Walk
Drive to Dwarsrivier farm and continue for approx 1km and then turn left to Sandrif resort, cross over the river and continue via the signposts for approx 1km up a gravel track to a small parking place. You will need to collect a key for the gate from Dwarsriver Farm when you pay for your permit. This is a steep mountain walk with some easy scrambling at the top to get into the largest ‘crack’, a narrow cleft reaching 30m into the bowels of the Wolfberg. The walk should take you about 1 to 1½ hours to go up and 1 hour to return with additional time on the top exploring – less if you are fit.
If you are fit and able, and not claustrophic, ask for a map for the Narrow Cracks. This is a scrambling ‘hidden’ adventure. My family loves the narrow cracks. It does help if you are a party of 3 or more in case one of you needs a lift up!
Wolfberg Arch Walk
The Wolfberg Arch walk starts with the Cracks walk (see above). We dont recommend doing the narrow cracks as this may make the whole walk too long. This is a steep mountain walk with some easy scrambling at the top to get into the largest ‘crack’, a narrow cleft reaching 30m into the bowels of the Wolfberg. The walk should take you about 1 hour to go up. From here you continue along the top of the mountain range for about 1½ hours to the 15m-high Wolfberg Arch. It is best to return the way you came as the other route down, via Gabriel’s Pass, is less well marked. Allow 6 to 7 hours for the walk though you may do it faster.
Note on Cederberg Cellars: The Cederberg Cellars is the finest wine cellar in the whole region and produces award-winning whites and reds. Enjoy some wine-tasting here after visiting the Stadsaal caves or enjoying one of the walks. Open Monday to Saturday mornings. There’s a small tasting charge.
How to get there
Take the central Cederberg road (approx 30km past Citrusdal) and travel past Algeria Forest Station over Uitkyk pass and onto Dwarsriver farm/Cederberg Cellars where you buy a permit. Continue on the road for 8km until you reach the Nature Conservation sign and sign right.
Walks in the central Cederberg – Algeria Forest Station
Algeria Forest Station is the Cederberg office of Cape Nature Conservation which manages the Cederberg Wilderness area. It is also a perfect spot to stay (camping or self-catering cottages) or to visit for the day with shaded picnic spots and a lovely natural swimming spot in the Rondegat River.
There is a Cape Nature permit fee, payable at the gate, which allows you to picnic and walk. From here you can enjoy short valley walks through the pine forests. The 50-60 min hike up to a beautiful waterfall or longer hikes up to Middleberg and beyond. Why not make a day of it and visit other attractions in the Cederberg Wilderness area such as Stadsaal Caves & the Cederberg Cellars (see above)
Algeria Valley walk
This a very pleasant gentle walk from Algeria up the valley towards Uitkyk. The path is clearly signposted from the end of the campsite. (When the path to the waterfall goes off to the left, you continue straight on to a grove of pine trees.) You can walk along the valley as far as you’d like and then return
Waterfall Walk & Middelburg
This is a short, moderately steep climb from Algeria Forest Station up to Middelberg waterfall. The path is clearly signposted from the end of the campsite. When you are almost at the height of the waterfall, the path forks. You take the left hand fork to head to the waterfall where there are superb views of the valley and surrounding mountains. A small pool for paddling and secluded ledges for picnics. Allow one hour to get there and 50 minutes to return as well as time at the waterfall
If you take the right hand fork, the path continues further up the kloof. Eventually coming to one of the forestry huts, Middleburg Hut which is used by overnight hikers. You return down by the same path.
This is one of the more gentle walks in the central Cederberg, from Algeria up the valley to Uitkyk Forestry house. The path is clearly signposted from the end of the campsite. (When the path to the waterfall goes off to the left, you continue straight on to a grove of pine trees.) You walk all the way to Uitkyk (approx 3.5km) and then return along the road to make a circular walk. The circular walk would take approx 2 hours (7km). The road is so quiet that it is like walking along a wide trail so it’s more appealing than it sounds.
How to get there
Take the central Cederberg road (approx 30km past Citrusdal), take the low water bridge over the Oliphants river and travel up over the pass to Algeria Forest Station (approx 25 mins from the turnoff). Visitors staying in Clanwilliam can also take the road past the Clanwilliam Dam and turn left to travel in to Algeria. (50-60 mins in total). We recommend a circular drive using both roads. Please note that in winter & spring you should check with Algeria Forest Station (027 482 2403) that the low water bridge is passable as it can sometimes flood.
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