Located just 3 hours’ drive north of Cape Town, the Cederberg is a 71,000 Ha semi-arid mountain wilderness which rises to over 2000m. The area is noted for its dramatic rock formations and notable and challenging day hikes:- the red-rock Wolfberg Cracks, which offer exciting scrambling and canyoning, and the isolated Wolfberg Arch, Sneeuberg summit (at 2027m, the area’s highest), the iconic Maltese Cross formation, and several others. Wild sleep-outs are possible here if you are prepared to self-carry, but most visitors stay in well-appointed chalets. Our Cederberg hiking trips are fully supported by an experienced, personable mountain guide who will pick you up in Cape Town, look after all catering and lead you on excellent walks. 3 or 4 nights are recommended.
- A dramatic semi-arid mountain wilderness overlooking the western Karoo
- The Wolfberg Cracks are exciting to explore, with both easy and harder options
- Very few people about, especially on the major hikes
- Sneeuberg summit is a challenging objective for fit hikers
- Very good chalet accommodation – be catered for in style
- Something for everyone – interesting short walks & challenging day hikes
- Taste award winning wines at Dwaarsrivier Winery in the heart of the Cederberg
- Rock art hike on the Sevilla Trail
- High quality guiding and catering
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 Cederberg 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; the short river walk to Malgaat, close to the chalets at Sanddrif is also pretty. If you are fit, it’s possible to extend the Maltese Cross hike to gain the summit of Sneeuberg (2027m), although there is scrambling involved on the summit – the scrambling is not tricky, but route-finding is. An alternative is to make this ascent over two days and either camp on Die Trap, ready for a morning ascent of the final section, or sleep in the Sneeuberg bothy, a very basic shelter. 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. There are nice circuits for the fit which can be accessed from Algeria, which lies further north, and which are preferable to Tafelberg if exposed scrambling is not your bag. 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 at the extreme northern end of the range. Much can be covered in a 4-day/3-night itinerary from Cape Town, although 4 nights give you more scope.
For those seeking to undertake the classic big walks, it’s best to stay in the heart of the reserve in one of the self-catering chalets at either Sanddrif or Kromrivier. Sanddrif camp is situated below the imposing bluff of the Wolfberg Arch and it’s a short drive from here to the trail head for Sneeuberg and the Maltese Cross. With very good planning, it’s perfectly feasible to self-cater and self-guide some of the walks, but you will get a lot more from the area if you have a guide to lead you and cater after demanding outings in the mountains. Kromrivier lies a short drive to the south and is also convenient for these walks. Accommodation is being upgraded here and it’s expected to become a dearer place to stay compared to Sanddrif. Other camps exist, but Sanddrif and Kromrivier are the bases we usually recommend for standard hiking itineraries focusing on Wolfberg and Sneeuberg. Other Cederberg Accommodation options exist outside the reserve.
The best time for hiking in the Cederberg is in the autumn (March to May) and in the spring and early summer (September to mid-December). September is particularly good for flowers. In high summer (January and February), temperatures can exceed 40 deg.C and hiking is best avoided. Winters are cold and wet, and the highest peaks are frequently snow-capped between June and August.
notes on geography
Covering 71,000 Ha of rocky terrain, the Cederberg Wilderness Area is one of South Africa’s most impressive hiking areas. It consists of several parallel ridges which contain some significant peaks, the highest of which is Sneeuberg (“Snow Mountain”) 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.