In the Western Cape in South Africa you will find the magical Cederberg, a mountainous area about 300 kilometers north of Cape Town. Here you will find yourself among fascinating red rocks, in the evening you will be under the most beautiful starry sky you may ever see and in Cederberg you are in the only place in the world where Rooibos grows. Wondering why you should add Cederberg even more to your South Africa planning? Below you will find all 10 reasons!
10 reasons to add Cederberg to your South Africa plans
1. Murals & Rock Art
The Cederberg area is known for its Rock Art. Not only at Bushmans Kloof, but in all kinds of places you can find ancient murals in this area. Most are made with ocher by the San (also called Khoisan or bushmen), the original inhabitants and nomadic people of Cederberg. All sorts of hikes are organized in the area that take you to the most beautiful murals, but it is also possible to just go out and take a walk in the area. Most Rock Art consists of drawings of animals, such as moose, elephants or half-human half-animal figures. Some animals had a symbolic meaning and other drawings mainly show an event that occurred. When you see these drawings, well hidden among the rocks, it is a bizarre idea to think that these paintings were made hundreds of years ago in a completely different time.
Did you know that Rooibos only grows in South Africa? And not just anywhere in South Africa, but only in the Cederberg area? If you are a tea lover and often enjoy a cup of Rooibos tea, you really must have been here. The Rooibos tea plantations also look completely different from the tea plantations in Asia. It is also strange to think that you know exactly what a vineyard looks like in Australia or France, a rice field in Indonesia or a tea plantation in Sri Lanka or Malaysia. But that you cannot really form an image of a Rooibos field… While Rooibos tea is really unprecedentedly popular in the Netherlands, in the form of hot tea from Pickwick but also think of the colorful cans of icetea from BOS!
You can go to the Rooibos factory in Cederberg, but you also don’t want to miss a visit to Rooibos fields. They look very different than you might think! The bushes of Rooibos are not red in color, which you might expect, it is a kind of fynbos that looks like dry green bushes. Only as soon as the Rooibos has been picked and completely dry does it get that deep brown, red autumn color. Super special to see and then it is also extra nice to taste it there. In Clanwilliam you can go to the Rooibos factory called “Rooibos LTD / Rooibos Limited” and this is on Rooitee Street. But you can also go to a farm. When we went to Heuningvlei in Cederberg, to spend the night there in this small village in the middle of nowhere, we visited his Rooibos fields with a local farmer during a ride with his donkeys.
3. Cederberg mountains & Bouldering
Wherever you go in Cederberg, the mountains dominate the landscape here and some rock formations have amazing shapes. Consider, for example, the much-photographed Maltese Cross or the Wolfberg Arch. The area near Matjiesrivier, a nature reserve, is also wonderful to see. So be sure to go hiking when you are in Cederberg, but also stop enough by car during road tripping to enjoy the rugged landscape for a while.
Because Cederberg is so full of gigantic mountains, bouldering is extremely popular here. You shouldn’t have a fear of heights and if you’ve never done it, you should really go out with a guide, but that bouldering is perfectly possible here is a fact. For the best spots, go to the CapeNature’s Rocklands site, which is close to the Kliphuis campsite. This is known around the world as one of the best spots for bouldering. If you want to do bouldering yourself, keep in mind that you need a permit.
4. Bushmans Gorge
If you want to spend the night over-the-top uber-deluxe, you have to spend 1 night (and if you can afford it a little longer) to Bushmans Kloof in Cederberg. Here you sleep in fantastic beautiful houses, there are very chill swimming pools, you make game drives where you can see colorful bucks and zebras and you can join a ranger to view Rock Art. A very nice, delicious, special and relaxed experience! Oh yes and they have fantastic food… Not only in the evening, but also in the afternoon there is a kind of high tea. On top of that, the breakfast is sublime (often you only eat it after your morning safari) and if you go on a safari tour you can also have drinks in the middle of the wilderness. Would you like to do even more? Then grab a bike and go for a ride or take a canoe and get out on the water yourself in the area around the houses of Bushmans Kloof!
5. Starry sky
If you sleep at places like Heuningvlei, you will immediately see how overwhelmingly beautiful the starry sky in Cederberg is in the evening. But if you are really curious about the starry sky, it is also great to go to The Cederberg Observatory. You will find this about 2 kilometers from Dwarsrivier. You can learn a lot about stars, the Milky Way and planets here. There are telescopes that allow you to look at the stars and there is some sort of show on Saturday from 8:00 pm unless it is too close to the full moon. Not necessarily in need of a tour? Make sure you just go outside if you spend the night in Cederberg and look up. Oh yes and you should definitely enjoy the sunset, because it is just as well very often incredibly beautiful!
6. Cederberg Wine
Besides having to drink cups full of rooibos tea in Cederberg, there is something you cannot and do not want to miss … Because when you think of South Africa, you do not only think of The Big Five or Cape Town, but also of wine. Very good wine! You will not only find vineyards around Stellenbosch, there are also vineyards in Cederberg. For that you go to Cederberg Private Cellar at Dwarsrivier. This vineyard is so special because it is a bit higher than many other vineyards in South Africa, but also because it is in the middle of nowhere. So be sure to plan some time for a visit to Cederberg Private Cellar if you find it in this area and stock up on some wine to drink as you enjoy the starry night sky!
Rooibos plant in the zonrooibos field in cederberg with girl
Through Footprint Travel we discovered the inimini village of Heuningvlei. Instinctively we had really arrived at the end of the world here. A long dirt road took us to this village and while driving we thought more than once that we were doing the wrong thing and would never find it. It took a while, but in the end we turned out to have taken the right road and once in Heuningvlei we were received by a number of girls from the village. Then we settled in the backpackers lodge that was built especially for tourists and we got a tour of the small town. We also took a donkey ride with a local farmer and saw his Rooibos fields. What did we get for breakfast? Very special ash buns with a portion of jam that were surprisingly tasty! Curious what it was like to travel to Heuningvlei? You can read our entire story at Footprint Travel
8. Highlights in Cederberg Wilderness Area: Maltese Cross & Wolfberg Arch
The landscape in Cederberg is incredibly beautiful. If you drive three hours north from Cape Town, you will automatically roll into Cederberg Wilderness Area. Even though it is only three hours from Cape Town, you are really in a completely different world here. The landscape is dominated by mountains that have the most beautiful colors. Golden yellow, deep orange, sun-kissed green or terracotta brown. Autumn colors dominate the landscape here. Spectacular highlights in the area? The Maltese Cross and the Wolfberg Arch! You can go to Maltese Cross via a hike. A special rock formation that, as the name suggests, has the shape of a kind of cross. Mighty and impressive to see. The Wolfberg Arch is actually a gigantic arch, formed naturally by the rocks in the area. They are both super photogenic spots, so don’t forget your camera when you go here!
9. For wildlife you really do not necessarily have to go to Kruger, but you can also go to Cederberg
If you really want to see The Big Five, you should indeed go to Kruger or Pilanesberg, but if you want to see “normal” wildlife, you can also stay in Cederberg. If you go on safari here you will see Bontebok, Zebras, dozens of species of birds, baboons, wild cats or foxes. So be sure to bring your binoculars when you travel here and keep your eyes open, because wildlife can really surprise you here too.
One of the largest “cities” (we deliberately write cities in parentheses because it is not that big of a deal) in Cederberg is Clanwilliam. This is the place where you will find one of the larger Rooibos factories (Rooibos Limited) and where you are bound to pass when you take a road trip towards Cederberg. We drove through this briefly and did not stay too long. The main thing we did in Clanwilliam was visit the rooibos factory shop so we could buy some tea in it for our trip and back home. Other highlights that are great to visit in Clanwilliam is the Clanwilliam Dam and there is a museum where you can learn more about the past: Ou Tronk Museum. In the museum you not only learn more about Rooibos, but also about shoe making! The museum is normally open from 08:00 AM to 01:00 PM and Saturday from 08:00 AM to 12:00 PM. By the way, we would have preferred to go to a farm like KlipOpMekaar, but they are not really open for visitors. What is cool to know: From the KlipOpMekaar farm, a lot of rooibos tea is used for the Ice-Tea in the brightly colored BOS Icetea cans!