Sunday, June 13, 2010

cederberg conservancy (june 7-10)

After two days in Elands Bay, I headed inland to Cederberg Conservancy on Monday, June 7. Cederberg is a huge, mountainous national park with loads of hiking, caves, and outdoors activities… but no paved roads. Over sixty kilometers on dirt roads took some steam out of the Atos on the way to the campsite, but it was well worth the trek.

The Atos on the Cederberg road, stopping for a scenic photo-shoot

The lodge/campsite was owned and operated by a very friendly and helpful couple, Gerrit and Chantal, who also cooked meals for residents, and made hiking recommendations (as well as detailed maps of the hiking paths). Although rain and a long search for petrol took up the whole first day, I managed to fit in two astounding hikes on the other days. On Wednesday the 9th, we hiked the Wolfberg Cracks, which ended up being about a 4.5 hour round trip hike, most of which was steep, and some of which was more like rock climbing than hiking. We missed the directions from Gerrit’s map that would have led us on top of one of the highest rocks to see a 360 degree view of the area, but the misdirection let us do our own exploring. I couldn’t believe how large some of the rocks on top of the mountain were, and how vast the peak was. I walked on the top of the mountain for about an hour without reaching the other side. The trail was not clearly marked, so we followed the deliberate piles of rocks left to lead the way. The somewhat unmarked aspect of the trail made it feel like I was exploring a new place and finding my own, instead of following a well-traveled route.

Looking up the mountain I was about to hike to get to the Wolfberg Cracks. You can see the cracks from the bottom.

I had to climb these rocks to get through the crack.

Walking inside one of the Wolfberg Cracks. I felt like I had suddenly landed in Narnia.

On top of the mountain

Peeking out of the huge rocks

On the morning of the 10th, we went to the Stadsaal Caves and to see the rock art. There is a rock art drawing by the Khoi people (often know as the Bushmen). Apparently this painting, made from rocks, has been there for about 1,000 years. The Stadsaal Caves wasn’t a hiking trail so much as a series of caves connected by paths. They were incredible. After exploring the caves for a couple hours, we hit the road again, made it out of the dirt roads of Cederberg (with a detour because of flooding), drove through Citrusdal, where we passed orange trees for miles, and made it back to Cape Town.

The rock art of the Khoi people

Approaching the Stadsaal Caves

At the entrance to one of the caves

Peeking out of a cave opening

Another beautiful scene at Cederberg, from the Stadsaal Caves

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