The Cederberg Heritage Route offers a collection of six community-based hiking trails in the Cederberg mountains located in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The five shorter trails can range from two to five nights duration, depending on optional extra days that may be chosen. The Cederberg 100 Trail is an eight night-seven day trail of about 100km in length. The majestic and rugged Cederberg mountains are only 2½ hours drive north from the beautiful city of Cape Town. The Cederberg hiking trails are fully inclusive of all accommodation, meals, donkey cart drives, entrances & park fees. Guests stay at comfortable guesthouses, guest cottages or homestays, some in the picturesque Moravian mission villages. The hikes are escorted by local community members. As overnight luggage is transported to the next night’s stay, walkers only have to carry day packs. These are true slackpacking hiking trails. Guided rock art visits are an optional extra.
If you would prefer to arrange your own hiking trip in the Cederberg we suggest that you consult the “Do-it-Yourself” section in the “Other Activities” page of this website. There you will find information on the accommodation available in various Moravian mission villages and the interesting hiking opportunities in the vicinity of each village. This option is likely to be cheaper than a full-service slackpacking trail.
The Cederberg Heritage Route is deeply involved with community development in that our trails make extensive use of services provided by the small, remote communities in the Moravian Church area of the eastern Cederberg, centered on the mission village of Wupperthal. These services, for which we have provided detailed guidelines, include accommodation, catering, luggage transport, rides in the traditional donkey carts of the area and guiding, which provide some much-needed cash income for these rural communities. We have also helped four of the Moravian villages to establish their own Tourism Committees with formal constitutions and have provided interest-free loans for upgrading two of the village guest cottages and for making pack donkey harnesses for luggage transport on routes that wheeled vehicles are not able to negotiate.
The Cederberg Wilderness Area
Most of the Cederberg mountains are in a designated Wilderness area that remains one of the most undisturbed areas of South Africa. The rugged terrain, few and rather poor roads and limited overnight accommodation have preserved most of this area, particularly the Cederberg Wilderness Area, for campers who are willing to rough it in the wild.
Slackpacking hiking trails
The Cederberg hiking trails of the Cederberg Heritage Route belong to the new generation of slackpacking trails which make this beautiful area more accessible to walkers. You stay overnight in the charming community guest cottages or homestays in the Moravian Mission villages of Heuningvlei, Brugkraal, Kleinvlei, Eselbank, Langkloof and Wupperthal on the eastern side of the Cederberg Wilderness area and guesthouses in or near Clanwilliam on the western side. Thus walkers can enjoy some of the classic walks of the northern and central Cederberg such as Heuningvlei, Krakadouw Peak, Boontjieskloof and Gabriel’s Pass in comfort and safety.
The Donkey Cart Trails and other activities
If you do not wish to do one of the official hiking trails, you can take the Donkey Cart Adventure from the Pakhuis Pass to Heuningvlei or the Three Day Donkey Cart Trail from Wupperthal via Kleinvlei and Heuningvlei to the top of the Pakhuis Pass. Another option is to book accommodation in one of the Moravian Mission villages and to plan your own hikes in the Cederberg Wilderness Area … more >>
A short history of the Cederberg Heritage Route
The Cederberg Heritage Route (CHR) was established at our first Annual General Meeting on 17th October 2007 as a Voluntary Association Not For Gain with a written Constitution and in accordance with the relevant South African legislation. Founding member organizations were the Moravian Church at Wupperthal, the Wupperthal Tourism Association, Cape Nature, the Clanwilliam Tourism Association, Cedarberg African Travel, and the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project. In addition, membership of the organization is open to individuals, being persons who have a keen interest in the Cederberg area and who subscribe to the objectives of the organization.
The principal objectives of the organization are:
# to promote sustainable eco-tourism in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape of South Africa, incorporating fields of interest such as flora and fauna, geology, botany, rock art, history, culture, heritage, and archaeology;
# to promote multi-day hiking trails (commonly known as slackpacking trails) in the Cederberg region, with overnight accommodation, catering and porterage of hikers luggage provided by the local communities;
# to promote and facilitate the training of suitable local escorts to guide the hikers from one night stop to the next;
# to involve and benefit the local communities.
The first project, implemented in 2008, was the establishment of three community-based, multi-day hiking trails. A fourth trail was added in 2009 and two more in 2012.
The five shorter trails can range from two to five nights duration, depending on optional extra days that may be chosen. The Cederberg 100 Trail is an eight night-seven day trail of about 100km in length, starting at the top of the Pakhuis Pass near Clanwilliam and ending at Driehoek Farm in the central Cederberg. There are options for guided rock art walks on most of the trails.
Attractions of hiking in the Cederberg
The Cederberg region, 2½ hours drive from Cape Town, has a spectacular mountain landscape, is a treasure house of pre-colonial rock art and has a rich botanical diversity, being part of the Cape Floral Kingdom of South Africa. A major portion is a proclaimed Wilderness Area that recently obtained World Heritage status. The Cederberg region contains a unique combination of attractions, including:
• Over 2000 sites of an impressive variety of San (Bushmen) rock art, produced by pre-colonial hunters and gatherers.
• Amazing red sandstone cliffs and rock formations, sculpted and weathered by nature.
• A fascinating variety of flora, including the endemic Clanwilliam cedar tree Widdringtonia cedarbergensis, an endangered Red Data species.
• Abundant bird life and a wide variety of fauna, including the rare Cape Mountain Leopard.
• Communities of farmers & rooibos tea growers, established by early 19th C. Moravian missionaries from Bohemia, living in picturesque mountain villages.
Come and enjoy some of the best slackpacking hiking trails in South Africa.
Hiking Trail Prices
The prices of the trails per person vary, depending on the particular trail chosen, the number of nights involved, whether you choose to include a guided rock art walk and the number of persons in the group. The maximum group size varies from trail to trail, depending on accommodation and transport limitations. The maximum group sizes are shown below for each trail. Smaller groups are accepted, but the cost per person then increases. Contact the Reservation Office for special offers which are often available on our trails. For our trails the price per person per trail for the maximum group sizes from 1 March 2017 to 28 February 2018 are as follows:
• Klein Krakadouw Trail (18 person max, 2 nights) – 18 persons = ZAR2 625 per person sharing
• Groot Krakadouw Trail (10 person max, 3 nights) – 10 persons = ZAR3 275 per person sharing
• Pakhuis Trail (18 person max, 3 nights) – 18 persons = ZAR3 950 per person sharing
• Wupperthal Trail (10 person max, 3 nights) – 10 persons = ZAR2 775 per person sharing
• Gabriel Trail (6 person max, 4 nights) – 6 persons = ZAR4 650 per person sharing
• Cederberg 100 Trail (6 person max, 8 nights) – 6 persons = ZAR8 475 per person sharing
Price ranges per person per trail for groups of only two persons up to 28 February 2017, for example, are as follows:
• Klein Krakadouw Trail – 2 persons = ZAR3 950 per person sharing.
• Groot Krakadouw Trail – 2 persons = ZAR4 950 per person sharing.
• Pakhuis Trail – 2 persons = ZAR6 175 per person sharing.
• Wupperthal Trail – 2 persons = ZAR4 625 per person sharing.
• Gabriel Trail – 2 persons = ZAR8 200 per person sharing.
• Cederberg 100 Trail – 2 persons = ZAR12 350 per person sharing.
Should you wish to explore opportunities for arranging your own hiking trip at a lower cost than these full-service slackpacking trails we suggest that you consult the “Do-it-Yourself” section of the “Other Activities” page in this website. There you will find information on the accommodation available in various Moravian mission villages and the interesting hiking opportunities in the vicinity of each village.
Accommodation and catering on the Trails
Accommodation on the Cederberg Heritage Route Trails is either in comfortable guest houses or in community-based homestays in the mission villages. Please note that although the homestays are well kept they do not have the bathroom facilities or perhaps the level of comfort that you may be used to. Bathrooms will usually have to be shared by the group and the bedroom configuration may require three persons to share a room, given the traditional nature of the cottages in the mission villages. Also please note that the catering menus in the mission villages are not able to cope with special diet requirements because of their distance from Clanwilliam and the nearest food shops.
Community Trail Escorts/Guides
Please note that the members of the local communities who escort you on the hikes from one night stop to the next are not necessarily trained and accredited tourist guides. Some of them are, but others are just local community members who know the local paths and will guide you to your next night stop and introduce you to your host. They have local knowledge that they should try to impart to you, but generally, their home language is Afrikaans and they may have difficulty expressing themselves in English. We provide training for the escorts as and when we are able.
Hiking Safety and Emergency Procedures
Please note that the members of the local communities who escort you on the hikes are not necessarily trained in first aid procedures. Please ensure that you have at least one simple first aid kit in your group. Note also that some of the paths used on our trails take you into remote areas of the mountains. There is generally no cell phone contact in the area and no quick way to get help. The weather in the Cederberg area can be very hot in summer and very cold and wet in winter (even snow and sleet). It can also change very quickly from warm and dry to cold and wet, so go prepared with suitable clothing. (See the Suggested Packing List below are the first aid kit and clothing.)
The following Hiking Safety and Emergency Procedures are provided for the benefit of our hiking guests and their Escorts.
Hiking Trail Rating System
Most of the hiking and walking on the Cederberg Heritage Route trails is not very severe, though the paths are usually stony and uneven and occasionally the route goes through the veld with no path. However, some optional hikes are more challenging. There are also numerous streams and rivers to be crossed, which may involve taking off shoes and socks and wading. We use the following Rating System to describe each day’s hike/walk on our trails.
1 – Fairly easy walk on undulating terrain, up to 8km
2 – Relatively easy hiking on undulating terrain, between 8-12km
3 – Steeper hiking over a pass AND/OR a longer distance, up to about 18km
4 – Steep mountain hike with several hours of uphill walking
Hike/Walk exposure to heights and/or scrambling
A – no exposure to heights and no scrambling
B – some hiking up rocky steps
C – some steep rock scrambling and exposure to heights involved. People with a severe problem with heights may want to avoid this walk
The times estimated below include ‘tea’ and lunch stops and some time for photography, swimming and other activities i.e. a leisurely pace. If you are a keen hiker, you may complete the walk in a faster time. Hikers are provided with a packed picnic lunch at the start of each day. Hikers need only carry a daypack, containing items needed during the day, as their overnight luggage is transported from one overnight stop to the next.
Selecting a Hiking Trail
Generally, the trails include the following features:
• Spectacular mountain scenery and interesting fynbos vegetation.
• A walk to interesting rock art sites (Note that this is an optional extra) with a knowledgeable guide (except on the Klein Krakadouw and Cederberg 100 Trails).These guided walks are highly recommended as “the images are not only aesthetically beautiful, not only technically very skilfully made but are also steeped in meaning.” (John Parkington, 2002) The guides provide interpretations based on modern research.
• A ride in a traditional Cederberg donkey cart on the 12km Donkey Cart Trail (except on the Gabriel and Cederberg 100 Trails).
• The opportunity to experience life in Moravian Church mission villages.
The Six Trails
The following summary of the six trails is intended to assist you in selecting the trail that is likely to suit you best with respect to the degree of exertion required. The trails are listed more or less in order of their degree of severity.
Suggested Packing list
As space – particularly on the donkey carts – is limited, bags must be fairly compact eg: 650 x 300 x 300mm or 750 x250 x300mm, and must not weigh more than 12kg. Use soft bags, please. No suitcases allowed. As wine/spirits are neither available nor provided, a (modest) quantity could probably be fitted in such bags. Avoid glass bottles. Take wine in cardboard cartons and/or spirits in plastic bottles. For the Gabriel Trail, you will be required to use (borrow and return) the Cederberg Heritage Route bags which are suitable for use on the pack donkeys.