Klein Krakadouw Trail
Travel north from Cape Town and over the Piekenierskloof Pass beyond Piketberg and you descend into a different world. You are only two 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 community guest cottages in the Moravian Mission villages of Heuningvlei, Brugkraal and Wupperthal on the eastern side of the Wilderness area and other 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
- A – no exposure to heights and no scrambling
- B – some walking up rocky steps
- C – 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.
1 or 2 night(s), Heuningvlei Backpackers Guest Lodge, Light Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Arrive at Yellow Aloe Tea Garden, in Clanwilliam, by the late morning (12:30) in time for lunch. Enjoy a light lunch (Drinks for your own account.). After lunch, at 13:30, you will be met by Michelle Truter, who will hand over your documents. After your meeting, you park your vehicle/s at De Vlei Guesthouse. You will then be transferred to the top of Pakhuis Pass. From there, at about 15:00, you will take the Donkey Cart Trail of about 12km (2 hours by donkey cart or 2½ – 3 hours walk, some 250m ascent and 300m decent, Rating 2A) to the charming mission village of Heuningvlei, where you overnight in a community guest cottage on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis. The track is quite rough and the donkey cart is not a very comfortable vehicle, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
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 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.
Donkey Cart Trail
You can opt to ride in the traditional donkey cart of the area – an exhilarating 2 hour ride (including a couple of stops for photography), or choose to walk all or part of the trail. This is a 12km trail on a wide track which would typically take 2½ to 3 hours to walk (Rating 2A) The mountain scenery is spectacular and there are usually a variety of indigenous flowering plants to be seen along the way. Take note that the donkey cart is not a luxury vehicle – it is a bumpy ride though cushions are provided!
A note about donkeys
Donkeys are not horses; they are by nature fairly stubborn with minds of their own, so it may take a while to round them up and to harness them to the carts. As the road is fairly rough and steep in parts 6 donkeys are used per cart. They require constant urging, both vocal and physical by the driver/handler, who has to ensure that each donkey is “pulling his weight”. This requires the use of a whip, sufficiently long (up to 3m) to reach the leader of the team. The whip’s “bark” is more impressive than its “bite”, as the far end of the whip does little more than touch the animal’s hindquarters.
Passengers should be willing to get off the cart and walk up or down steep sections.
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.
Optional Day 2
Optional Walk near Heuningvlei, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
If you wish you can have an extra day to enjoy either a hike up Krakadouw peak or a circular walk around Heuningvlei – depending on your fitness levels and/or inclination! However we do ask that your whole group opts for one or other of the optional walks and also that you let us know in advance which option you are likely to do. Your optional hike will start at 07:00 in summer and 08:00 in winter.
Option One: Guided hike up Krakadouw Peak – ONLY FOR EXPERIENCED HIKING FIT HIKERS
This is an immensely rewarding, but strenuous hike up to one of the highest peaks in the Cederberg Mountains. It is an 8 hour hike (3 – 4 hours ascent 900m, approximately 1 hour on the summit and 3 hours descent, Rating 4C). Some scrambling up gullies will be required so above average fitness and some mountain experience would be expected. However at the top you are rewarded with 360 degree panoramic views of the whole of the Cederberg range and a fascinating terrain. On the way up and down there are also wonderful views, incredible rock formations and a number of the rather rare cedar tree, Widdringtonia cedarbergensis, which is endemic to the Cederberg area.
Option Two: Relaxed guided walk in the hills behind Heuningvlei
Alternatively you can enjoy an easy day hike of 10 – 12km in the hills to the east of Heuningvlei (Rating 2B). There are some rock art sites in the area that you can elect to visit if you so wish. Again the rock formations, varied vegetation and wild flowers provide interest along the way. Near the end of the walk you can swim in a large, deep pool in the Heuningvlei River, in a beautiful setting.
Overnight at Heuningvlei Backpackers Guest Lodge again on a Dinner, Bed, Breakfast & Packed Lunch basis.
Day 2 (or Day 3)
1 night, The Rectory Guesthouse OR Blommenberg Guesthouse, Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner & Bed
Today you enjoy a guided hike of about 13km (6 – 8 hours, Rating 3B) up to Krakadouw Nek and then down the Krakadouw Pass trail, through the heart of the Cederberg wilderness area, back to a guest cottage in the Jan Dissels River valley (The trail is not steep with a gentle ascent of 300m and then a 900m descent). The views are breath-taking. Take your binoculars with to view the birdlife. The 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. After your day hike, you will be transferred back to De Vlei Guesthouse to collect your vehicle/s. You will then drive yourselves to The Rectory Guesthouse/Blommenberg Guesthouse, where you will stay overnight on a Bed & Breakfast basis. You will also receive a meal voucher to the value of R180 to enjoy dinner at the Rooibos Country Club.
Accommodation at The Rectory, Clanwilliam
The Rectory is a national monument and is situated in the main road of Clanwilliam. It has a beautiful courtyard. Accommodation at The Rectory is provided in four en-suite rooms. Two rooms have each got a double bed. The other rooms have 2 ¾ beds.
Accommodation at Blommenberg Guest House, Clanwilliam
Blommenberg Guest House has nine en-suite rooms are situated around our lush garden courtyard with a swimming pool. Eight are standard rooms. Of these, six have twin beds and two have queen size beds. The bathrooms have walk-in showers. All are quiet, secure, spacious and airy.
Day 3 (or Day 4)
This morning, after breakfast, depart for home.
2 night option
March 2023 – February 2024
- ZAR3 400 person sharing Per person price (18 pax)
- ZAR4 050 per person sharing Per person price (6 pax)
- ZAR4 950per person sharing Per person price (4 pax)
- ZAR5 175 per person sharing Per person price (2 pax)
3 night option
March 2023 – February 2024
- ZAR4 275 per person sharing Per person price (18 pax)
- ZAR5 050 per person sharing Per person price (6 pax)
- ZAR5 050 per person sharing Per person price (4 pax)
- ZAR6 550 per person sharing Per person price (2 pax)
Note: If you have one or two people who are happy for other people to join them, please specify this when booking. We will invoice you for the two person price, but will reduce the price if other people join the tour at a later stage. Unless you specify that, we will assume that each booking is a private tour.
- Accommodation and meals as specified in the itinerary (Full Board)
- Tea, coffee, milk and sugar at all the overnight places
- Road Transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
- Services of a local community guide for all the hikes
- Transport of luggage between overnight stops
- Transport to/from Clanwilliam (quoted extra on request)
- Travel insurance
- R55.00 once off per reservation.
Klein Krakadouw Trail