Nestled in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains lies the award-winning Bushmans Kloof, a luxury lodge that gives access to the open plains, ancient art and distinctive wilderness of the region. A South African version of the Wild West with a backdrop of streams, dirt tracks and sandstone, the best way to explore this incredible landscape is undoubtedly by foot; hiking in South Africa brings into focus the sort of flora, wildlife and art it would be easy to miss when travelling at a faster pace. Take a look at our guide to find out more about the best hiking trails in the Cederberg Mountains.
Make your way from Pakhuis Pass (meaning ‘packing shed’ in Afrikaans), past the fynbos flora, down to the Boskloof valley. Watch out for leopard tracks as you pit-stop at the old Anglo-Boer Block House, before heading down into the mission village of Heuningvlei. Now you’re near the official Wilderness Area where there’s the potential to bump into anything from baboons to rheboks, from porcupines to foxes. The highlight is yet to come, however, with the two waterfalls of the Grasvlei River up ahead, on a path that will eventually take you past fields of rooibos tea, and down to rest at Driehoek farm.
March a line over Gabriel’s Pass to the Moravian village of Langkloof, where you can recuperate before stomping over to Wolfberg Arch. Standing in a landscape of balanced boulders and improbable rock formations, there’s also the famous San Rock Art nearby. These paintings are perhaps the best known of all Africa’s arts and record the spells launched to improve each tribe’s fortunes in the hunting season. But even these ochre figures pale in comparison to the waterfall at Eselbank, where the river plunges into a kloof (a steep glen), before emerging calm and stately – perfect for a refreshing face-wash.
Start in the Jan Dissels River valley and hike your way through the stunning Krakadouw Pass to the little village of Heuningvlei (rather adorably meaning ‘the place where the bees and water gather’). From here, your expedition will head into the heart of the Wilderness Area, a 71,000-hectare reserve, before requesting a local donkey-cart. These old-fashioned transports are still all the rage in the areas that tarmac has not yet smoothed over, so nobody will bat an eyelid when you trot a line into Clanwilliam for some rest.
Pick up a hot flask of coffee and walk down the valley of the Grasvlei River via Agterstevlei village. Then follow the Tra Tra River, through Sas se Kloof, and into Wupperthal. Much of this area has retained the charm of a bygone era, with thatched churches, quaint mission houses and picturesque cottages. Even today the village is famous for its historical craft: the making of leather shoes. But if you feel this hike is a little too short, don’t hesitate to ask where the ‘Englishman’s Grave’ is. A short walk out of town, a memorial marks the site where a mounted infantryman mistakenly galloped into an enemy patrol and gallantly charged at the Boers, with predictable results.