There is always a persistent desire during springtime for hikers to immerse themselves in nature and the outdoors. The Cedarberg, a seasonal refuge of unspoilt beauty, is renowned for its many interesting sites on this 71000-hectare of mountain wilderness. It has long captured the imagination of those enthusiasts seeking the extraordinary.
Eight of us were accommodated in bungalows at a Cederberg Private Nature Reserve for a three-day stay. As the reception manager was not available at the time, a cleaning assistant warmly welcomed us and showed us to our bungalows. Somehow, I could not get the image of this slender man’s friendly, but toothless grin from ear to ear, out of my mind. Barbeque facilities were ideal and clean ablutions were a stones throw away. We were informed that in the Western Cape several seasons in one day are always a possibility during this period, so we prepared ourselves for all eventualities.
Day one: After a generous early breakfast and a two hour trek we observed the majestic rugged cliffs with its abundance of knobbly Cedar trees. These hardy perennials were twisted by violent winds during growth and also by past fires. Trees jutting out near craggy mountainsides have miraculously adapted for survival in all environments. Trekking along during midday, fierce dark clouds began to hang low and jagged streaks of lightening slashed across the sky. The scene of nature’s picture was one of violence, chaos and rage. There was barely enough time to don our rain gear. Looking closely, something else became visible. In one of the crevices on a rocky mountain slope, tucked back just out of reach of the wind and oncoming rain was a nest containing two magnificent colourful birds. Seemingly unconcerned about the impending storm, they appeared calm, cosy and peaceful as they patiently waited for the turbulence to pass. We eventually took refuge in an overhang till the rain stopped. Other areas visited were clothed in a cavalcade of colourful wild flowers that seem to splash the Cederberg with an almost limitless panorama. It almost takes your breath away. Most of the Cape Mountains are affected with this explosion of flower magic at this time of year.
Day two: The most striking place was to trek to the Wolfberg Cracks and more so the Arch, making it all the more mysterious by its isolation. It was a bizarre series of fiery rustic colours when viewed from below the portal. Weathering has created this sandstone formation into rough and artistic shapes. The opportunity was also taken to visit the formidable looking Maltese Cross, also in a solitary part of the berg. This 20metre high sandstone structure was shaped by years of wind and rain with the surrounding rocks, breaking away from the main formation millions of years ago.
Day three: The private nature reserve’s affable manager took us on a conducted 10km hiking tour to isolated peaks, streams and pools. This was included in the original cost. We delved into some caves in the mountain belly whilst Cape Sugarbirds performing their graceful and stylish courtships were easily recognisable amongst the fynbos. We also had the opportunity to view old rock art paintings by San people. These images gave an in-depth sense of place that seemed to hold ones attention. The sun was warm at midday with a cool invigorating breeze. A refreshing swim in a cold pool relieved many sore feet. Not many antelope of significance were observed though we were told many animals congregate in this particular area because of the abundance of water and emerald pastures.
This was the culmination of another splendid day in the process and awareness of beauty in exploration.
By Selwyn Lager