Hiking in the Cederberg

Cederberg - Wolfberg Arch

Three hours north of Cape Town lie the wholly different Cederberg Mountains, which rank alongside the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg in stature as a hiking destination in South Africa.  The Cederberg Wilderness Area is a 71,000 Ha rock wilderness, consisting of several parallel ridges containing some significant peaks, the highest being Sneeuberg at 2027m. The area is best known for its fantastic rock formations, including the Wolfberg Arch, Wolfberg Cracks and the 20m high Maltese Cross which have been formed by acidic rain and snow eating into the quartzitic sandstone boulders and cliffs. A prominent shale band forms a level platform known as Die Trap (The Step) around most of the major peaks, giving relatively straightforward hiking access to much of the range. The bare, peaked ridges, with their brilliant white rock and sand, are separated by deep river valleys which are often blocked by almost impenetrable riverine bush. In places, vertical rock folds have been left jutting out of the earth. 

What’s possible

Most hikers visiting the Cederberg seek to take in the main trekking symbols of the range, notably the Maltese Cross and the Wolfberg Cross and Arch.  Shorter hikes requiring between 2 and 3 hours, normally made on arrival day and departure day, are to the Stadstaal Caves and the Cedar trees above Algeria.  A 4-day/3-night makes all this achievable, although it must be noted that the hikes to main rock formations are relatively strenuous scenic outings.  For the seriously fit, it’s also possible to extend the Maltese Cross hike to gain the summit of Sneeuberg (2027m), although there is scrambling involved.  An alternative is make this ascent over two days and camp on Die Trap, ready for a morning assault on the final section.  Tafelberg (1969m) is the Cederberg’s second major summit, and is sometimes included as a trekking objective.  However, the summit block is generally the preserve of rock climbers and serious scramblers and is not summited by hikers.   The Cederberg is riddled with San Rock Art and one of the best ways of seeing a good selection is to walk the 8-kilometre Sevilla Trail.