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Walks in the Central Cederberg Wilderness

Cedarberg Hiking tour-Maltese cross in Cederberg mountains

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….

Temperatures in the Cederberg

It is extremely hot in high summer in the Cederberg. We don’t recommend that you plan to do major walking during the months of December to February. But 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 eg before the afternoon. 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. The best time for walking are the spring months of September to early November and again from March to May. Winter months can be very cold in the mornings but with pleasant daytime temperatures, ideal for walking throughout the day, unless it is raining. (Every now and then, it can even snow in the winter so check the weather forecast.)

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 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, See Cape Nature website for more info.)

Note you WILL need a permit because there are locks on the gates of the approach roads and so you will only be told the gate code when you buy a permit.

Walks in the Central Cederberg – Dwarsrivier/Sandrif

Stadsaal Caves

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).

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…

Stadssal caves - walks in the Central Cederberg

Maalgat Walk

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 Cape Nature 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).

South Africa walking tours - Cedarberg

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 time if you are fit.

If you are fit and able, and not claustrophic, ask for a map for the Narrow Cracks. (You will need this map as otherwise it is hard to find the start of this route.) 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! Note we don’t recommend big day packs as it is very narrow in places.

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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. Note that the path is not very clear so be careful to follow the cairns and also use a walking app such as AllTrails. It is best to return the way you came as the other route down, via Gabriel’s Pass, is not at all 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 until 4pm. 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 from 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)

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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.

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Uitkyk Walk

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.

This “Walks in the Central Cederberg” article was written by Cedarberg Africa

Cedarberg Africa is a specialist tour operator for Southern and East Africa. We focus on upmarket tailormade safaris for discerning and busy people. We make our money on the difference between our trade rates and the rates that are available to you, so that means that effectively all our years of experience and expertise comes free of charge…

Contact us if you’d like a tailormade safari quote for a trip to the Cederberg. (Note: we don’t book camping sites or self-catering, only hotels and guesthouses)

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