Of Our South Africa Travel Adventure
After our trip to and through the Klein Karoo, we went to the Cederberg Mountains. We saw videos about the Cederberg Wilderness that made us curious to go there. And you won’t believe that besides all the known beauty, there are still many less-known and peaceful spots.
There are incredible things to do in the Cederberg Mountains, such as exploring tranquil highlands, enjoying drives through lonesome valleys, hiking/biking in the bizarrely shaped mountains, barbecue in the riverbed, and much more.
During our week in the Matjiesfontain and Cederberg Wilderness, we experienced stunning nature with hardly any visitors. Here are our top tips on fantastic things to do in the Cederberg Mountains – and all details you need to know.
The Route to and through the Cederberg Wilderness
If you are coming from Cape Town, the easiest way to get to the Cederberg Mountains is via the N7 towards Namibia.
The highway leads 176 kilometers past Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, and Piketberg to Citrusdal.
Citrusdal is the perfect stopover to refuel before the last 28 kilometers to the junction of the N7 to Algeria / Cederberg.
At this junction, you turn right onto a gravel road, cross the Olifantsrivier, and drive up to the Nieuwouldspass. After 18 kilometers you reach the Algeria campsite.
From Algeria, it’s another 28 kilometers to the Dwarsrivier farm, over the Cederberg pass, and along the Driehoekrivier.
We drove the route on a very cloudy, rainy day and with a view of only a few meters. But when the clouds opened up, the landscape appeared in an incredibly magical atmosphere.
Where to stay in the Heart of the Cederberg Mountains
We checked in at the Dwarsrivier farm for the Sanddrif Resort, where we’ve rented a self-catering cottage. Very idyllic on the Matjiesrivier and in the so-called “Valley of Red Gods” – surrounded by intriguing red rock formations.
These holiday homes come with a homely open kitchen & living room area, and an inside (!) and outside braai area. We spend our evenings sitting in front of the open inside fire to prepare food and stay warm during the cold early spring days.
If you are a camping lover, Sanddrif also hosts two gorgeous sites, the main campsite opposite their holiday homes and the Kliphius camping on the Driehoekrivier river bed.
Here are all the details for Sanddrif Resort & Camping sites.
If you are after a bit more hustle and bustle, you can stay at the Cederberg Park on the Kromrivier. It offers luxury chalets, cottages, a campsite, and a restaurant.
Permits & Costs
For the below-mentioned tours/ sights, you need a permit, which you get at Dwarsrivier farm and Algeria office. Here are the fees, per day and adult/child (2-13 years):
Maltese Cross: ZAR 70/ 40
Stadsaal Caves & Rock Paintings: ZAR 50/ 30
Wolfberg Cracks: ZAR 70/ 40
Wolfberg Cracks and Arch: ZAR 100/ 60
Maalgat: ZAR 40/ 25
Mountain Bike Trails: ZAR 40/ 25
Go Ahead and Find Your Magic Place!
1 Explore the Highland Behind the Cederberg Vineyard
The Cederberg vineyards are not only the highest wine-growing region in South Africa but are also very picturesque in the midst of bizarre red-orange rock formations. That alone is worth a detour.
From there, head west and take the small trail uphill at the end of the vineyard (4×4 or mountain bike). After about 3 kilometers you’ll reach a beautiful plateau.
Not only the view of the surrounding mountains (The Pup and Sneeuberg) is excellent, but also the incredible tranquility. This makes it a nice place for a picnic – just sit, watch, and relax.
Or you continue on the route and explore more of the area. If you head straight north, past the mountain range, you will come back to the main road after a few kilometers.
2 Along the Rondegatrivier to Clanwilliams
Take a drive from Algeria through the Rondegatrivier valley to Clanwilliams. That is fantastic. The gravel road meanders past small citrus plantations and settlements and the view of the Cederberg ridges and the Clanwilliam valley in front of you is gorgeous.
Finally, the road brings you to the idyllic Clanwilliam Dam and Reservoir, where you can go on a boat tour or enjoy other water sports activities.
If you’re looking to recharge your batteries, continue on Ou Kaapse Road to the town’s mall and Thi Art Café for delicious food and coffee.
What we noticed
There are many less-known hikes for which there are hardly any maps and current information.
Some of them start right next to the road, and signs point them out. But they lead over rocky terrain without a clear path, and you have to rely on cairns as your guide.
Ask at Algeria Cape Nature Office or Dwarsrivier farm for more details on hikes because they have some helpful maps.
If you want to dig deeper, it might make sense that you signup for Alltrails.com – Cederberg Wilderness, where hikers share experiences, details, and ratings on all types of hiking routes.
Lekker Eating & Drinking Plek (Spots)
@Clanwilliams Ceder Mill Mall
Thi Art Coffee:
Cozy cafe with a view and delicious coffee. Open daily, Mon-Sat 7:30-18:00, Sun 9:00-13:30
Phrase of this Episode:
Rooi-oranje berge - Red-orange mountains
3 Stadsaal Caves at Sun and Sunset
4 Barbecue/ Braai on the Matjiesrivier or Driehoekrivier
Depending on where you stay, enjoy a braai/barbecue on the river bed. You can do so at
the Sandriff resort holiday homes and the opposite campsite. There outside braais overlooking the idyllic Matjiesrivier.
Further down to the east, the Matjiesrivier turns into the Driehoekrivier, Kliphuis campsite offers the same. It’s stunning to have a barbecue on the idyllic rivers and enjoy delicious food and drinks – with your feet in the sand if you want.
5 Winetasting at Dwarsrivier, Cederberg Winery
It goes without saying that a wine tasting is a must if you are a wine lover.
The unique environment influences the taste of the Cederberg wines in a good way, and they are earthy, fruity, and mild at the same time.
Taste the wines in the Cederberg wine cellars at Dwarrivier Farm in a cozy modern tasting room with a view of the farm, mountains, and some vineyards around.
6 Hike to the Maltese Cross
After we did it, we recommend it as a relaxed day tour.
The very generic guide to this trail tells you that it is an easy-going 3 hours return hike. But, it’s less of a hike than a continuous climb over rocks. And if you have luggage with you (like us, photo equipment, and food) and the path turns into a waterfall (after rain), it just takes a lot longer. Also, calculate some time being around the Maltese Cross, to have a picnic, and enjoy the scenery.
Because it is stunning, the stone cross rises 20 meters from the flat plain, with the impressive 2028-meter high Sneeuberg in the background.
7 Visit Idyllic Matjiesrivier
Just a few kilometers further east from the Stadsaal caves, you will come across the small settlement of Matjiesrivier.
It sits on a riverbank of the Matjiesrivier, in a small valley, with a handful of picturesque little houses and an equally idyllic cemetery on a little hill, surrounded by a wall and full of wildflowers. Truly peaceful.
8 Wolfsberg Cracks & Arch and Lot’s Wife
Without a doubt, on the list of things to do in the Cederberg Mountain. The well-known Wolfsberg Arch is impressive, outstanding on the large, rough high plateau.
But so are the Wolfberg Cracks that dig deep into the mountain’s wall, where you can climb and find brilliant caves. Check them out.
Likewise, Lot’s Wife round track is worth a visit. It’s an easy 30 minutes walk through the incredible landscape with many scenic rock formations.
That was our pick on the great things to do in the Cederberg Mountains. We loved every minute, especially at the remote, less-known places in this incredible landscape. And we hope you enjoyed this tour, too!
In the next episode, we continue our South Africa journey with the fascinating flower season in Namaqualand in the Northern Cape, when the desert blooms. And hope you join us on this unique experience. See you there.
Next up: Episode 7 – 8 Great Spots to See Flowers in Namaqualand