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Friday, March 12, 2010

Cederberg Wilderness Trail

Date: December 2002

Weather: First day - Hot, cooling towards the end of the day and rained during the night. Second day - Cold and overcast. Third day - Cold but clearing up. Fourth day - Hot. Fifth day - Unbearably hot.

The Cederberg mountain range near Clan William in the Western Cape is the setting for one of the most spectacular wilderness hiking experiences in Africa. There are numerous paths and vast areas of spectacular mountain scenery to choose from and our description is of just one option that we decided to do.

When planning the hike we decided what our objectives were going to be. These were, the ascent of Tafelberg and visiting Wolfberg Arch.Day 1.We set out from Algeria Forest Station and immediately started the steep climb along the well defined path towards Middleburg hut. The path zig zags up the mountainside until you are about two thirds of the way up, where you come across a side path that leads to a magnificent waterfall. At the waterfall the water is so pure that grass grows through the actual cascade.

From the waterfall the path climbs steeply until it eventually emerges at the top and it is a short walk to the Middleburg hut. We decided to have lunch at a nearby stream before continuing. As we had tents with us we decided to camp out further along the path in the direction that we wanted to go, so made our way to Groothandskop.Due to heavy rain during the night and early morning we decided to make our second day the short walk to Sleepadhut. The first part of this walk is quite easy, following a mountain stream and over a saddle, across a small stream and then past rock outcrops before descending quite steeply to another stream, the Wilderhoutdrif.From here the trail ascends steeply, zig zagging up the mountain. There are beautiful rock formations and puddles of clear water along the way. Another stream is crossed before reaching Sleepadhut.

Day 3.From Sleepadhut, the trail follows a jeep track until one arrives at the imposing mountain peak of Tafelberg. The path up Tafelberg is via a terrace and up the steep mountainside towards the spout.After crossing the saddle between the mountain and the spout, the path leads around the banks of the mountain until a giant boulder crack is reached. The top of the mountain is reached by clambering up this fault. Descending from the top, our party headed for Gabrielspass where we spent the night by a pool.

Day 4.We started with a moderate climb up to the plateau and then a short walk across the Wolfberg Arch, one of the major landmarks of the Cederberg Range. After some minutes spent in photography here, we again headed back to Gabrielspass for the steep descent down to Driehoek Campsite. From here we followed the jeeptrack northwards until a suitable campsite was found close to a stream.

Day 5.The final days walk consisted of a steep climb up along a well constructed path towards Die Gat, followed by a steep descent to Sas se Werf. Here we all enjoyed a swim in some lovely rock pools before following the path back to Algeria Forest Station.

Reported by T. Hartwright

Jean-Pierre's Thoughts.
I was very excited about going on a trip without my mom and the fact that it was such a beautiful hike made it even more special. Everybody was very excited about seeing the snow protea. The flowers were beautiful and the rock formations and trees were amazing. I would love to go back again sometime.

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