On this 3 NIGHT PAKHUIS TRAIL – CEDERBERG HERITAGE ROUTE experience, you 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.
This 3 NIGHT PAKHUIS TRAIL – CEDERBERG HERITAGE ROUTE will expose you to the majestic and rugged Cederberg Mountains which 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 on this 3 NIGHT PAKHUIS TRAIL – 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/walking on the Cederberg Heritage Route trails is not very severe, though the paths are often stony and uneven. (Also, take note that during the winter (wet) season some of the streams/rivers may be difficult to cross without removing one’s boots and wading. In extreme circumstances the guide may have to change the route.) However, some optional hikes are more challenging. We use the following rating to describe each day’s hike.
- 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 walkin
- Walk exposure to heights and/or scrambling
- A no exposure to heights and no scramblin
- B some walking up rocky step
- C – some steep rock scrambling and exposure to heights involved. People with a severe problem with heights may want to avoid this hike
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 Guide/EscortsTake note that the community trail guides/escorts are not trained and accredited tourist guides. They are members of the local community who know the paths in the area and can escort you to your destination. They have local knowledge that they will try to impart to you, but generally their home language is Afrikaans and they may have difficulty in expressing themselves in English.
Accommodation on the Trails
Accommodation on this 3 NIGHT PAKHUIS TRAIL – CEDERBERG HERITAGE ROUTE Trail is either in comfortable guesthouses or in community-based guest cottages. Please note that, though the community-based guest cottages 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 night The Longhouse Guesthouse, Lunch and Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Arrive at Yellow Aloe Nursery in Clanwilliam by the late morning (by 12.30pm) in time for lunch. There you will be met by a representative from Cedarberg Travel and you will receive your documents. After having lunch at Yellow Aloe, you will have a guided tour of the “Ou Tronk” (Old Jail) Museum.
After the guided tour of the museum you will park your vehicle/s at the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project (CLLP) premises in Park Street. At the premises you will be met by their representative and he will take you on a guided rock art walk of about 3hr (Rating 1A) in the beautiful Jan Dissels River valley with the Cederberg Mountains towering in the background. You stay overnight at The Longhouse Guesthouse on a DB&B basis.
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 Strassberger’s Shoe Factory to purchase a pair of locally made ‘veld’ shoes, or the Rooibos tea factory for a video of the tea-making process. Project participants at the CLLP make a number of attractive necklaces and bags available for sale at their craft shop.
One of the most appealing activities is to follow a trail to some of the ancient rock paintings of the San people, the first inhabitants of the Cape. The Cederberg is one of the best areas for rock art in Southern Africa with 2,000 discovered sites. (The other three areas are the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu Natal, the Brandberg in Namibia and the Matopas in southern Zimbabwe.) It is not only the quality of the San’s artistry that makes so many rock paintings appealing to the modern eye – many of the paintings show a strong sense of whimsy, flowing with movement and life.
Accommodation at The Longhouse GuesthouseAccommodation at The Longhouse Guesthouse is in comfortable rooms with en suite bathrooms. Dinner and breakfast will be provided at The Longhouse Guesthouse.
1 night, Krakadouw Cottages, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast & Picnic Lunch
A representative from CLLP will collect you and transfer you 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 (6 to 8 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. The vegetation and rock formations are most interesting.You will overnight at Krakadouw Cottages on a DBB basis. Accommodation at Krakadouw CottagesAccommodation at Krakadouw Cottages is in two or three bedroom cottages which have a small sitting room and one bathroom.
1 night, Heuningvlei Guesthouse, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Today you enjoy a guided hike of about 13km (6 – 8 hours) 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, climbing up some 900metres to the Nek and then descending 300metres to Heuningvlei. Rating 3B.
Accommodation at Heuningvlei
Accommodation at Heuningvlei is provided in a small guesthouse with two bedrooms, a living room and one bathroom. Dinner and breakfast are provided by the ladies of the community.
Return to Clanwilliam and Depart
This morning after breakfast you can enjoy a donkey cart ride from Heuningvlei to the top of Pakhuis Pass on the Donkey Cart Trail. A representative from CLLP will collect you from there and transfer you back to the CLLP premises in Clanwilliam by about lunchtime, where you collect your vehicle/s and depart for home.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 12 km 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 will be provided!
- Accommodation and meals as specified in the itinerary (Full Board)
- 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
- Drinks (but tea and/or coffee are provided)