Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Cederberg
The beautiful Cederberg, a wilderness area dominated by a craggy mountain range and a nature reserve that stretches from the Middelberg Pass at Citrusdal to just north of the Pakhuis Pass at Clanwilliam - over 70 000 hectares of spectacular, rugged terrain - lies roughly two to three hours’ drive, depending on how leisurely the pace, from Cape Town.
Where? Cederberg, Olifants River Valley, Western Cape, South Africa
The Cederberg, named after the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar - a tree endemic to the area - is virtually synonymous with a series of impressive rock formations that emerged as a result of a combination of factors, including the chemical composition of rocks in the area, climatic conditions and the general flat-lying nature of the geology in the Cederberg.
This largely isolated and undeveloped part of the world is renowned for its hot, dry summers with typically cloudless skies, winter rains and incredible natural beauty. A period of severe exploitation of the environment, during which large amounts of cedar wood, rooibos tea, buchu and rockwood bark were unsustainably harvested, came to a halt in 1973 after the cedar was brought to the edge of extinction by constant felling to meet the growing demand for construction wood.
A conservation project now actively supports the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree - run by the Botanical Society, Western Cape Nature Conservation and individual reserves in the area in an effort to save this light, honey-coloured and highly aromatic wood from the endangered list.
The Cederberg is without doubt one of the most beautiful and finest areas in which to hike. Wolfberg Arch and Cracks (the arch is a long way from the cracks, but worth the effort), Maltese Cross, Tafelberg, Sneeuberg, Sneeukop and Krakadouw peak make for real mountaineering attractions, whilst the not-as-fit still gain a lot of pleasure from Maalgat pool and Stadsaal Caves.
There are fine examples of San rock art in caves and overhangs throughout the area. Farming villages in the area make for leisurely days of exploration, particularly the Moravian mission station at Wupperthal.
Cederberg is now the generally accepted spelling for the area, which combines the English (Cedarberg) and Afrikaans (Sederberg) variants.