Cederberg National Park
After our last night at the campsite, which we will not soon forget, we left on Saturday afternoon, with a slight hangover, towards our first destination, Cederberg. During our 2 months stay in Cape Town we heard great stories about it.
Cederberg is a mountain range and nature reserve over 710 km2 and it’s located 300 km north from Cape Town. The mountain range is named after the endangered Clanwilliam Ceder, which is a tree endemic to the area. It’s easy to get there as we mainly followed the N1, but when passing the village Ceres, Marty (which is the name of our car, as every overlander needs to give his or her car a name.) had its first challenge climbing up the steep mountain over a winding road. The engine meter went up in no time and stopped half way through and on top of the mountain we stopped to look for any problems, but we couldn’t find anything. Soon after we drove down again, into the valley, the engine meter slowly went down (Marty is a bit on the heavy side and the climb was his first exercise, after doing nothing for 2 months). The road continued on and after lowering our tyre pressure as we hit gravel road we drove into Cederberg Nature Reserve as we continued on into this breath-taking mountain range (which could be a perfect movie set to be Mars) passing by small farmers who are growing grapes to make wine, until we reached Sanddrif farm, the highest wine farm in South Africa who also manage the permits for the Wolfberg Cracks hike; the main reason for us coming here.
The next day we got up early to get our permits, but as we arrived at the reception, which was closed until nine as it was holiday season, some fellow hikers told us that Wolfberg Cracks has been closed due to two major fires in 2016 and at the beginning of 2017 and nobody is permitted to hike this trail. What a bad luck huh? But, as there is still no information why it is still closed till this day, many go out without a permit and just pass the fence and hope that they won’t get caught. This was also the advice giving to us and so we went up for a hike which, was told, would take about 1,5 hours up and down.
We parked our car back at the campsite and walked the last part towards the gate. Inge and I squeezed ourselves through the fence and walked up passing the valley of the Red Gods which consists mainly of red stone that have been dropped from heaven and have been standing there for ages.
We stumbled upon the old parking lot and after some looking we found a small trail going up the hill towards the famous crack. The hike was quite steep and the trail wasn’t always clearly visible, but lucky we found footsteps which showed us the way up.
After 500m up we passed this huge boulder which looked like it crumbled down from the mountain not so long ago and still wasn’t finished with its journey down as it was just barely balancing on a few rocks.
Just before the crack huge stones block your way and you really need to climb to get to the passageway up. But before you go up any further you need to make a decision if you go for the narrow crack or the wide crack. The wide crack is an easier climb up as the narrow crack really test your skills and as we like a challenge we went up the narrow crack.
Following the path up towards the narrow crack, the first challenge arrives as we need to squeeze ourselves through a narrow gap. The path leads on pass a small ledge where, if you don’t pay attention and have a firm grip on the wall, a fall would mean the end. But, when passed the ledge, you will be rewarded with a stunning view over the whole area.
The hike doesn’t end here and after passing a huge Arch you will find a small arrow somewhere on the rocks which indicated the entry to the narrow crack. This is also the second challenge as the crack is filled with boulders blocking your way and only by putting your back and feet against the wall and climb up. The last challenge is when the crack gets narrower and you need to crawl under a huge boulder, head first, to eventually end on top of this mountain. And to be quite honest the part where I lay underneath the boulder still brings back bad memories of this movies where a hiker gets his hand stuck under a huge boulder and he needs to cut of his hand with a small knife. Luckily the boulder stayed put.
After a nice lunch on top of the mountain range we hiked back through the wide crack and within an hour we were down at the entrance again. No guards to be seen in vicinity as we climbed back through the fence and walked back to the car to continue our journey to the Garden Route.
Loves, Chris & Inge