The perfect weekend destination from Cape Town, Mount Ceder in the Cederberg Mountains, offers visitors a host of exciting accommodation options. In a valley, surrounded by rugged and arrestingly dramatic mountains, Mount Ceder is found on the main route through the Cederberg range. It’s a great wilderness area with majestic views, amazing Spring flowers (August and September), and rugged hikes – perfect for the young and not-so-young.
How you enjoy the beauty of Mount Ceder is up to you: walk in the mountains with no one around, enjoy clambering over the unique rock formations; swim in the perennial river with the kids or marvel at the delicate Bushman rock art. Of course, you could just simply relax and enjoy the exhilarating peace of this unspoiled paradise from the luxury of your house or cottage. At the end of an activity-filled day, settle down to a relaxing drink on your veranda, or enjoy a wholesome 3-course meal at the Old Millhouse restaurant, accompanied by superb wine from the region. For a first-class experience, come to the Cederberg and enjoy the mountain scenery and the many activities Mount Ceder has to offer.
In a valley, surrounded by mountains Mount Ceder is found on the main route through the Cederberg range.
With a Perennial River, wonderful bird life and stunning scenery the abundant opportunity for many outdoor pursuits or to just remain at your house or cottage and relax.
In addition to the opportunities for hiking and swimming on the property, we are also within driving distance of many other of the Cederberg attraction and various 4×4 routes.
With so much to do – just remember to stay long enough!
San and Khoi people inhabited the Cederberg area from early times. European settlers began stock farming here early in the eighteenth century, and in 1876 a forester was appointed to oversee crown land in the mountains. This was possibly the first attempt at conservation in the Cederberg.
A conservancy, of which Grootrivier forms the southern border, was established in 1997. Farmers used the mountains to graze livestock in times of drought, and together with tobacco, this was one of the main farming activities during the first years until about 1965.
Mount Ceder farm offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the veld, river, and scenery around them as well as observe the working olive farm on the premises.
Today Mount Ceder is a working Olive farm where horses roam, pomegranates and blueberries are grown and even Proteas are harvested in season.
Cultivating Tobacco in the Cederberg
Grootrivier, now known as Mount Ceder, largely owes its economic development to the production of chewing tobacco. Work on the tobacco fields usually commenced in August and September with the preparation of the soil. Fertilizer loads from the goat stalls were offloaded and placed in even rows, and then later manually scattered and worked into the land. Large herds of goats were specially kept and brought into enclosures at night for their manure which could be worked into the fields. Although fertilizer and guano became available in later years, the farmers continued to fertilize with goat manure as they believed the special flavor and “kick” in chewing tobacco was due to dung from the goat pens.
After the manure was plowed, the Tobacco is planted in neat rows. The filed were irrigated and it was absolutely essential that the rows and irrigation furrows were prepared at the correct fall and angle on the slopes. There was great competition among the farmers regarding their tobacco fields, as a tobacco field was regarded with great honor and pride.
When the tobacco plants were fully grown at the end of the season, the whole plant was cut and hung upside down on slats to partially dry.
Before the leaves were completely dry, the leaves were carefully and individually cut loose from the stem and packed in piles on a concrete floor in the tobacco shed to dry further. During this drying process, the piles of leaves were covered with hessian which would build up the heat and cause the leaves to sweat. As a result, they had to be manually turned and tossed twice a day to cool them down. This process was repeated for several days until the leaves were dry and no longer produced heat or sweat. At this stage, the leaves were ready to be plaited into thumb-think plaits and wound onto a large reel. Once the reel was full, the farmer would make tobacco rolls. It was important that each of the rolls be the same size and a certain amount of skill was involved in the process. These rolls were then packaged and sold.
The Cederberg region is only 3 hours from Cape Town and yet the landscape is completely different from that of the Mother City: wilder, warmer with raw, dramatic beauty. Towering mountains, brilliant purple, and orange at sunset preside over the valleys.
The mountain range is named after the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis), which is a tree endemic to the area. The mountains are noted for dramatic rock formations and San rock art. The Cederberg mountains extend about 50 km north-south by 20 km east-west.
The dominating characteristic of the area is sharply defined sandstone rock formations (Table Mountain group), often reddish in color. This group of rocks contains bands of shale and in recent years a few important fossils have been discovered in these argillaceous layers.
The fossils are of primitive fish and date back 450 million years to the Ordovician Period. The summers are very hot and dry, while the winters are wetter and cold with typical annual rainfall in the low lying areas of less than 150 mm. The higher peaks receive a dusting of snow in winter. Summer days are typically clear and cloudless.
The Cederberg has an exceptional botanical diversity, being part of the Cape Floral Kingdom of South Africa, and among the twisted rock formations, farmers cultivate the world-famous healthy rooibos tea, found only in the Cederberg of South Africa. A visit to a rooibos farm is a delightful addition to a day trip from Mount Ceder.
The Cederberg Conservancy
In 1967 the removal of dead cedar trees was halted and all other exploitation ended in 1973 with the proclamation of Cederberg Wilderness.
The Cederberg Conservancy was constituted in 1997 as a voluntary agreement between landowners to manage the environment in a sustainable manner. It consolidates 22 properties in the central Cederberg as one of the core corridors of the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor and it is active through quarterly meetings and awareness days. The conservancy incorporates 182 000 hectares of protected land.
In 2004 the Cederberg Wilderness received World Heritage Site status as part of the Cape Floristic Region.