Cederberg 100km Walk
Cederberg Heritage Route, Western Cape
Travel north from Cape Town and over the Piekenierskloof Pass beyond Piketberg and you descend into a different world. You are only 2½ hours’ drive from Cape Town and yet the country has changed; wilder, warmer with a raw, dramatic beauty. Towering mountains, brilliant purple in the late afternoon light, preside over a fruit-filled valley laden with the scent of orange blossom in the spring.
The majestic and rugged Cederberg Mountains are a gigantic mass of sandstone, richly coloured by iron oxides and eroded into a variety of strange shapes. The Cederberg is most famous for these unique rock formations as well as for fine examples of San (Bushmen) rock paintings and spectacular wild flowers in spring (early/mid August to early September). Most of the Cederberg is a designated Wilderness area and thus remains one of the most undisturbed areas of the country. The hiking trails of the Cederberg Heritage Route aim to make this beautiful area accessible to walkers via the use of charming homestays in the Moravian Mission villages of Heuningvlei, Brugkraal, Kleinvlei, Eselbank, Langkloof and Wupperthal on the eastern side of the Wilderness area and guesthouses in or near Clanwilliam on the western side.
Rating of the severity of the hikes/walks
Most of the hiking and walking on the Cederberg Heritage Route trails is not very severe, though the paths are usually stony and uneven and occasionally the route goes through the veld with no path. However, some optional hikes are more challenging. There are also numerous streams and rivers to be crossed, which may involve taking off shoes and socks and wading. We use the following Rating System to describe each day’s hike/walk on our trails.
- Fairly easy walk on undulating terrain, up to 8km
- Relatively easy walking on undulating terrain, about 8-12km
- Steeper walking/hiking and/or a longer distance, up to about 18km
- Steep mountain hike with several hours of uphill walking
Walk exposure to heights and/or scrambling
- no exposure to heights and no scrambling
- some walking up rocky steps
- some steep rock scrambling and exposure to heights involved. People with a severe problem with heights may want to avoid this hike
Day Packs & Estimated Times
The times estimated below include stops for ‘tea’ and lunch and some time for photography, swimming and other activities. Hikers are provided with a packed picnic lunch at the start of each day so that you only need to carry a day-pack containing items needed during the day (water, snacks, additional clothing, rain gear), as your other luggage is transported from one overnight stop to the next.
Community Trail Escorts/Guides
Please note that the members of the local communities who escort you on the hikes from one night stop to the next are not necessarily trained and accredited tourist guides. Some of them are, but others are just local community members who know the local paths and will guide you to your next night stop and introduce you to your host. They have local knowledge that they should try to impart to you, but generally their home language is Afrikaans and they may have difficulty expressing themselves in English.
Accommodation on the trails
Accommodation on the Cederberg Heritage Route Trails is either in comfortable B&Bs or in community-based ‘homesteads’. Please note that, though the community-based homesteads are well kept, they do not have the bathroom facilities or perhaps the level of comfort that you may be used to. Bathrooms will usually have to be shared between the group and the room configuration may require three persons to share a bedroom, given the traditional nature of the mission cottages. We aim to describe this as accurately as possible but please come with an attitude of acceptance. The revenue from your walking trail is directly helping the local community.
2 nights (1st night), Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection, Dinner & Bed
Arrive in Clanwilliam in the late afternoon (ideally by 17:00) and head to your overnight stay at the Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection on a Bed, Packed Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis. You will be met by Michelle Truter, at 17:00, who will hand over your documents. You will also receive a meal voucher to the value of R250 to enjoy dinner at Bella-Louise Restaurant.
Clanwilliam is one of South Africa’s oldest towns. Colonialists settled the area by 1725. In 1820 about 350 Irish settlers arrived in Clanwilliam. You can still see some of the attractive 1820 settler houses in Park Street. Clanwilliam is now a centre for an agricultural community cultivating the uniquely South African Rooibos tea, citrus, table grapes and vegetables. The citrus orchards can be seen along the Olifants River valley from Citrusdal to Clanwilliam. Further north there are a number of vineyards producing both wine and table grapes.
If you arrive in the town earlier in the afternoon, you may like to visit the Old Gaol Museum, the Strassberger’s Shoe Factory to purchase a pair of locally made ‘veld’ shoes, or the House of Rooibos for a video of the tea-making process. You can also do a very informative and interesting rooibos tea tasting at Velskoendraai Farm Stall.
Accommodation at the Yellow Aloe Collection, Clanwilliam – you will stay at any of the following properties (cannot guarantee which one it will be)
The Longhouse Guesthouse is in one of the oldest streets in Clanwilliam, Park Street, and is a beautifully restored Cape Dutch farmhouse with original features. There are five en suite rooms with a shady stoep as well as pretty garden and swimming pool.
Yellow Aloe Guest House lies in the heart of Clanwilliam, opposite the museum and a short walk from everything. There are three en-suite bedrooms upstairs in the main building. All the rooms are air-conditioned with percale linen and flat screen TVs. In the main public areas, you will find wi-fi access, a flat screen TV and cappucino machine. The Yellow Aloe coffee shop offers a full english breakfast and light meals throughout the day. Relax in the garden overlooking the swimming pool and the Cederberg Mountains.
Yellow Aloe Cottage is situated in the heart of historic Clanwilliam town. Internet facility is available upon request. There are five spacious rooms are tastefully decorated and are fully air-conditioned. It has its own private swimming pool. Two of the rooms share a bathroom and are ideal for families with children.
2 nights (2nd night), Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection, Packed Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
This morning, you will be transferred to the top of Pakhuis Pass for your guided hike down to Krakadouw Cottages in the beautiful valley of the Jan Dissels River. The 17km path (7 to 9 hours) follows a very scenic route across the western side of the mountain, starting at 900metres altitude and undulating down to about 200metres. (Rating 3B, undulating but basically 700m downhill. Most of the path is well made but the last section of about 1km is quite steep and rough. This is quite a strenuous hike.) The vegetation and rock formations are most interesting. After your day hike, you will be transferred back to Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection for your overnight stay on a Bed, Packed Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis. Dinner will be enjoyed at Bella-Louise Restaurant, with a voucher of R250 pe person.
Pakhuis Pass was built by the famous Cape Pass builder, Thomas Bain. Thomas learned his skill from his equally famous father, Andrew Geddes Bain, when he helped him to build Bain’s Kloof Pass, near Wellington. In the 1860s the Cape authorities were petitioned by the residents and farmers of Calvinia to construct a proper road to Clanwilliam. Bain started work on the Pakhuis Pass in 1874, and the pass was opened in April 1877. Bain also built a short route from the top of the pass to the settlement at Heuningvlei. His original Pakhuis Pass remained in use until the 1960s, when it was widened and realigned to ease some of the steeper sections.
Various explanations have been offered for the name “pakhuis” which literally translates as ‘warehouse’. One school of thought has it that the piles of rocks which are a feature of the mountain slopes resemble piles of goods stacked in a warehouse. Another explanation holds that the “stacked” rocks resemble the dry-packed stone walls of many Karoo buildings, “kliphuis” or “pakhuis” being a common local term for such buildings. Finally, there is an interpretation that holds that “pakhuis” is a corruption from Khoekhoe, meaning “dassie’s rocky place”. Whichever is correct, all refer to the extraordinary rocks and formations encountered on the pass. The geological and climatic forces that have created these pillars, stacks, arches and towers can only be marvelled at.
The summit of the Pakhuis Pass is 20km from Clanwilliam and is 922m above sea level. The view north-east from the summit is stunning, with endless ridges of hills stretching away to the distant Roggeveld mountains, the Hantam and Calvinia.
Accommodation at Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection on a Bed, Packed Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis again.
1 night, Heuningvlei Backpackers Guest Lodge, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
This morning, you will park your vehicle/s at De Vlei Guesthouse. You will then be transferred back to Boskloof for the start of your day hike. Today you enjoy a guided hike of about 13km (5 – 7 hours, Rating 3B) up the Krakadouw Pass trail, through the heart of the Cederberg wilderness area, to Krakadouw Nek, and then down to the guest cottage in the small settlement of Heuningvlei. The views are breath-taking. The up trail follows the valley of the perennial Dwarsrivier stream through patches of beautiful indigenous bush and trees. It also passes an unusual round blockhouse built in about 1901 by the British forces, during the Anglo-Boer War. The trail is generally not very steep, ascending some 900m to the Nek and then descending 300m to Heuningvlei. Again, this is quite a strenuous hike because of the uphill climb. You will stay overnight in Heuningvlei on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis.
Anglo-Boer War in the Clanwilliam District
The 10th Royal Hussars, 16th and 17th Lancers, Gordon Highlanders and 3rd South Stafford regiments were sent to Clanwilliam during the Anglo Boer War (1899 – 1902). They were put ashore in Lambert’s Bay, as the Cape Town docks were overloaded and had to walk with all their equipment for forty miles to Clanwilliam, in the summer heat. The soldiers were stationed in the “Clanwilliam School”. Due to skirmishes in the area, a number of soldiers were killed and 23 are buried in the St. John’s Church cemetery. Others are buried in the district.
The first blockhouses were built on the orders of the British Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Lord Roberts, in March 1900 following the capture of Bloemfontein. Roberts was eager to protect his army’s main supply route, the railway connecting Bloemfontein to the Cape. When the Boers took to the veld and the guerrilla phase began in late 1900 they proved elusive and were very difficult to bring to battle. Lord Milner, the British High Commissioner at the Cape, suggested extending the blockhouses away from the railway across the veld. The idea was to literally fence the Boers in by constructing an obstacle against which pursuing British columns could trap them. In addition, supply depots could be established away from the railway along the blockhouse line giving the pursuing columns greater range.
The blockhouse system required an enormous amount of manpower. Well over 50 000 British troops, or 50 battalions, were involved in blockhouse duty, greater than the approximately 30 000 Boers in the field during the guerrilla phase. Many of the troops guarding the lines of communication and manning blockhouses were from the militia, part time civilian soldiers. In addition up to 16 000 Africans were used to patrol the line at night.
Life in the blockhouse was very dull and tedious. The routine was simple and unchanging, the possibility of Boers trying to cross the blockhouse line always present. There was little scope for amusement on the veldt. The blockhouse was part of a successful strategy that eventually brought the ‘bittereinder’ (bitter end) Boers to the negotiating table. Although the Boer general, Christiaan De Wet, thought they prolonged the war because the great expansion of the blockhouse system in mid-1901 allowed the Boers to regroup and fight on.
Krakadouw Peak is the highest peak in the northern Cederberg at 1 745m. From the top are glorious views of the Cederberg Mountain range, and views west all the way to the sea (on a clear day).
Mission Village of Heuningvlei
The farm Heuningvlei originally belonged to the nine Ockhuis brothers, who inherited it from their father – a Dutch settler who married a Hottentot woman, Vytjie Swart. Three of the brothers went bankrupt and sold their shares to the other six. The remaining six soon sold their ownership rights to the Rhenish Missionary Society. Today, Heuningvlei is one of fourteen outposts of the Moravian Mission station, in Wupperthal.
Twenty families are currently living here, most of whom are subsistence farmers planting sugar beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes. The community is also renowned for using traditional methods to produce dried fruit and for organically cultivating Rooibos tea. The community identified tourism as a means of improving their livelihood and the provision of accommodation, meals and guiding has provided the community with extra income.
The younger children go to school in Wupperthal, whereas the older children go to the secondary school in Clanwilliam. The children normally board during the term. Wupperthal has a clinic, but the nearest hospital would be in Clanwilliam. Although the shop in Wupperthal stocks the basics, most of the provisions needed by the inhabitants in Heuningvlei, are purchased in Clanwilliam.
Accommodation at Heuningvlei
Accommodation at Heuningvlei is provided in either the community guesthouse or in a homestead/s. Meals are provided by the ladies of the community. Please note that even if a specific property has been confirmed to you, it does happen that the community has to move you to another property because of certain reasons.
Accommodation at Heuningvlei Backpackers Guest Lodge, Heuningvlei
Accommodation at Heuningvlei Backpackers Guest Lodge is comfortable. There are two rooms, each with 3 bunk beds, the third room has a double bed and single bed combination bunk bed and the fourth room has a double bed and two single beds. There are two separate showers and 4 separate toilets with basins. There is also a lounge and dining area with fireplace and a small kitchen. Please note: To access the showers or toilets from the rooms, you have to walk out of the room, onto the stoep and enter through another door.
1 night, Cloete’s Homestead, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Today you enjoy a guided day hike of about 16km (6 – 8 hours, Rating 3B) up to the Boontjieskloof Hut, in the heart of the Cederberg wilderness area, and then down to the little Brugkraal mission settlement, via Grasvlei village. There are swimming opportunities en-route in pools, in the perennial Boontjieskloof stream. There are fascinating rock formations and an interesting variety of indigenous vegetation along the way. The Boontjieskloof Hut is one of several simple stone huts in the wilderness area that were built originally to provide shelter for the forestry workers. They are now mainly used by backpacking hikers (The trail is not steep with a gentle ascent of 250m and then a 300m descent). You stay overnight at the Cloete’sl Homestead on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis.
Accommodation at Cloete’s Homestead
Accommodation is provided in the Cloete’s homestead which can sleep up to ten persons. There are two bedrooms with a double bed each (one with an en-suite bathroom) and a loft area with a queen size bed and four single beds. There is one bathroom, off the passage and a separate toilet in the loft area. The cottage also has a living room with a fireplace, and a kitchen. There is also a stoep to sit outside. Meals will be brought to the cottage for you to enjoy.
1 night, Kleinvlei Campsite/Zimri’s Homestead, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Today, at 07:00 or 08:00, you have an escorted hike of about 13km (6 – 7 hours, Rating 3B) from Brugkraal to Kleinvlei via Grasvlei and Wupperthal, involving about 200m gradual downhill, then about 100m up and 300m down over the mountain to Wupperthal and finally a walk through the kloof of the Tra Tra River to Kleinvlei. From Brugkraal to Grasvlei (about 2km) the route follows an easy path south through attractive countryside. Beyond Grasvlei one walks through the veld between the jeep track road and the edge of the Grasvlei River gorge for views of the two impressive waterfalls on the river. Just above the second waterfall the route heads off over the mountain to Wupperthal on informal paths used by the local residents. There will be a short time to look around the historic village of Wupperthal before starting on the final stage of the day through the kloof of the Tra Tra River to the village of Kleinvlei. You will overnight in a tent at Kleinvlei Campsite/at Zimri’s Homestead on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis.
The villages of the Wupperthal Moravian Church in the eastern Cederberg area
Heuningvlei, Brugkraal, Grasvlei, Kleinvlei, Eselbank and Langkloof are all members of the fourteen outpost villages of the Moravian Mission Church at Wupperthal, the successor to the Rhenish Missionary Society that founded Wupperthal in the 1830s. The communities are mainly involved in subsistence farming, running herds of sheep and goats and cultivating crops such as sugar beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Rooibos tea. Many community members are seasonal or occasional contract workers in surrounding areas, depending on what work is available. The villages all are situated in areas with perennial water and arable land.
Kleinvlei lies about 7km north of Eselbank via a footpath, but by road it is a roundabout route of some 28km via Wupperthal, Brugkraal and Grasvlei. Kleinvlei is a picturesque, traditional Moravian village, mainly of thatch-roofed whitewashed cottages. It is a bit smaller than Eselbank. It is set alongside the Dassieboskloof River with Skerpioensberg (1 626m) to the west and Sneeukop to the south west. From Kleinvlei the Dassieboskloof River runs through a beautiful gorge to join the Tra Tra river at Wupperthal. There is also a 4km footpath to Wupperthal through the gorge. Kleinvlei has a small campsite and is at the southern end of the Donkey Cart Trail that starts at Kleinvlei and runs through Agtersvlei, Grasvlei, Brugkraal, Witwater and Heuningvlei to the top of the Pakhuis Pass.
Accommodation in Kleinvlei
Accommodation in Kleinvlei is usually in summer in tents, in the Kleinvlei Campsite and in homesteads in the winter. Please note that even if a specific accommodation option has been confirmed to you, it does happen that the community has to move you to another property because of certain reasons.
Accommodation in tents at Kleinvlei Campsite
Accommodation at Kleinvlei Campsite is in tents. Each tent has two single matrasses on the floor. There is also one communal bathroom for ladies and one for men – each with a shower and a separate toilet with basin. On the premises is also a lapa with a “braai” and an electricity point. Meals will be served and enjoyed in the community hall.
Please note: This is the most rustic accommodation on the trail.
Accommodation at Zimri’s Homestead, Kleinvlei
Accommodation at Zimri’s Homestead is provided in three bedrooms, each with a double bed. There is a bathroom with a bath and toilet. The house also has a kitchen, lounge and stoep. Meals are provided by the ladies of the community and will be served in the community hall which is about 100m – 150m from the homestead.
1 night, Kupido’s Homestead, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Today, at 07:00 or 08:00, you will have an escorted hike of about 10km (4 – 6 hours, Rating 3B) from Kleinvlei to the village of Eselbank, with detours to interesting viewpoints, rock formations and the Eselbank Falls. The route climbs the path up to Uitkyk which ascends a rocky valley (a climb of about 350m) and then levels out to run along a sandy track beside fields of rooibos tea to Eselbank village. Two short walks can then be made. The first, at the end of the morning, goes to the spectacular Eselbank Falls a short way downstream from the village. Here the river plunges into a deep and narrow ravine that leads down to the valley known as the Moordenaarsgat. The second, after lunch, goes to interesting rock formations and a cave with rock art a little way up the Eselbank River from the village. From Kleinvlei to Eselbank your luggage will be carried on a pack donkey. You will overnight at Kupido’s Homestead on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis.
Kleinvlei packed donkeys
The Kleinvlei pack donkeys are fitted with special harnesses that enable each donkey to carry two soft luggage bags of the type specified in our Packing List. The reason for using pack donkeys for transferring luggage in and out of Kleinvlei is that they can use relatively short paths from Eselbank to Kleinvlei and from Kleinvlei to Wupperthal, whereas the alternative of using motor transport involves much longer routes on very poor roads.
Eselbank is a fairly large village lying about 8km to the north of Langkloof and straddling the “jeeptrack” road. It is 11km to Wupperthal, down a very rough, narrow and steep section of the road. Sneeukop (1 930m) and South Peak (1 839m) tower above the village to the west and to the east is the precipitous ravine of the Moordenaarsgat River. Nearby, the Eselbank River drops over a spectacular waterfall into a deep, narrow gorge. Around the village are extensive cultivated lands.
Accommodation at Kupido’s Homestead at Eselbank
Kupido’s Homestead is situated in Eselbank, in the heart of the Cederberg. It is a homely house with a kitchen, living area with lounge and dining table, three bedrooms: room 1 has a double and a single bed with an en-suite with a shower, basin and toilet; room 2 has a queen size bed and room 3 has a double bed. There is a separate bathroom as well with a bath, basin and toilet. The house has wifi. Meals will be provided by the ladies of the community.
1 night, Langkloof Homestead, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Today, at 07:00 or 08:00, you enjoy an escorted hike of about 11km (6 – 7 hours, Rating 3B) from Eselbank over the mountain (ascend about 500m and descend about 500m) to the village of Langkloof. Please note: About 5km of this hike is on a well-marked route (white paint marks and stone cairns) through the veld. The route has been cleared of vegetation but there is not a properly constructed path. The terrain on this section is fairly rough under foot, so progress is slower than on a properly constructed path and more strenuous. The first 1.5km of this trail is along the jeep track to the path that leads to Vaalfontein. From there, there is no clear footpath but the route is marked all the way to the top of Wabooms Kloof. From there you will take the footpath to Agtertafelberg and onwards to Langkloof. However, the route is very beautiful and interesting with tremendous views. But it is not a clear path, only a marked path through the wilderness area. An alternative route which is less strenuous, as it is a low level route around the mountain is also available. The alternative route is on a plateau along the side of Moordenaarsgat. Please consult your guide if you think you might prefer this alternative route. If the weather is unsuitable for the route over the mountain you will be taken to Langkloof by the alternative route. You stay overnight at Langkloof Homestead on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis.
Langkloof is smaller and more remote than Kleinvlei and Eselbank. It lies at the eastern end of the beautiful Langkloof valley and the Langkloof stream, overshadowed by Tafelberg (1 969m) and Corridor Peak (1 838m) to the south and Langberg (1 857m) and Shadow Peak (1 890) to the north. The only vehicle access is via the so-called “jeeptrack”, a very poor 35km road that connects Matjiesrivier in the south with Wupperthal to the north. The nearest substantial town is Clanwilliam, about 90km away by road.
Accommodation at Langkloof Homestead
There are three rooms with two single beds each with a separate bathroom with bath, shower, toilet and basin. There is also a lounge area, dining area and a kitchen. Note: This accommodation is modest/rustic!
1 night, Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Today, at 07:00 or 08:00, you enjoy a guided day hike of about 16km (6 – 8 hours, Rating 3B) from Langkloof, over the very scenic Gabriel’s Pass (where you can make a detour to visit the famous Wolfberg Arch) in the Cederberg Wilderness area, to Driehoek Tourist Farm (ascent 430m and descend 530m). From Driehoek Tourist Farm, you will have a road transfer back to De Vlei Guesthouse to collect your vehicle/s. You will then drive yourselves to the Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection, where you will overnight on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Again, you will receive a voucher to the value of R250 to enjoy dinner at Bella-Louise Restaurant.
Overnight at the Yellow Aloe Guesthouse Collection again on a Bed & Breakfast basis.
March 2023 – February 2024
- Per person price (6 pax) ZAR12 875 per person sharing
- Per person price (4 pax) ZAR13 900 per person sharing
- Per person price (2 pax) ZAR17 650 per person sharing
Note: If you are happy for other people to join you/your group, please specify this when booking. We will invoice you for the number of people in your group, but will reduce the price if other people join your trail, at a later stage. Unless you specify this, we will assume that each booking is a private trail.
- R55.00 admin fee once off per booking.
Cederberg 100km Walk