A brief run down of where what and how we stayed in Cederberg

I am back at work now and just reflecting on what a great holiday I have just had with Helen and Cori, and ultimately on my own for a few days too.

Trail running wise, Cederberg has been brilliant and I will endeavour to impart a bit of useful information about how to get there and where to stay etc ( based on our own experiences of course) before giving a bit of a run down on the trails and terrain:-

The place is awesome, from Hot thermal springs and accommodation in old Victorian Spa houses to cottages in the middle of nowhere, it is an area maybe 3 times the size of Snowdonia with only a handful of gravel roads running through it and so empty of people….

Helen and I stayed here for a few days mountain biking , running and horse riding

An Oasis of green in the midst of the rocky landscape, a cool place to stay with a lake for a swim too!!

The landscape is made up of  mountainous ridges ancient heavily weathered sandstone it seems with amazing rock formations on a grand and a small scale- myriad shapes abound and make for a stunning landscape, as all the hills and mountains bristle with these shapes. Cast in between are Oasies of green and water where private farms are part of the reserve management team and provide accomodation and camping in great surroundings

We spent a total of around 2.5 weeks in the area and could have spent many more here, as  the scenery lures you on to see what is round each corner. The variety in the place is huge too, some areas remind me of Balochistan in Western Pakistan, or Omani jebels with grass on, and others look like limestone pavement areas in the Yorkshire dales (only grander).

Fresh water in pools and streams are unexpected in this dry looking place, but seem to pop up out of nowhere when least expected although I suspect these dry up as summer pushes on.  During my runs I drank many mountain streams big or small, as long as the water was flowing as the crystal cool water was tooood to pass up and in the heat I was draining my Salomon SLAB bag quickly. ( Although caution should be advised – I am not recommending this just in case I develop a case of worms later, but I was sure the waters were clean…)

How to get there:-

Well the area is a designated wilderness area 200km North of Cape Town, the terrain rising from around 600 metres up to 2000m in places and remote and unspoilt. The nearest town you would pass is Citrusdal, a strange place – a one road town with a good Spar Supermarket for provisions. Picketberg about 30km before this is also good for stocking up. Don’t rely on Citrusdal Tourism office for good information, they seemed a bit out of touch when we visited it.

The Cederberg website has plenty of info as has Cape Nature, and generally from all the tourist camps there are many trails accessible for bikes or walks / runs etc up into the hills. I also booked some accommodation through Cape Nature, who own cottages in and around Algeria, some with and some without electricity but all in great locations. There is also a

We had a car to get in and out , which gave us a lot of freedom, we stayed in a number of areas and didn’t waste time getting about. From the Baths, South of Citrusdal to Kromsrivier and Algeria in the middle of the park we got a good flavour of the place and really enjoyed our time there.

If you want direct access to the trails and reduce travelling time, then it is worth staying inside the area as outside the area the number of trails are limited due to private land issues and there is not the same history of paths and access that there is in the UK and Europe. I do recommend a trip to the Baths, such a cool place to chill out in hot springs under the sun or stars… either before or after a trip into the area.

Allow about 3 hours to drive into the Cedeberg Wilderness from Capetown, and maybe an extra hour to account for shopping on the way. Cost of accomodation ranged from around £19 pp per night for 3 of us in a self catering apartment at the Baths, to around £40 per night for 2 in a cottage in the reserve areas themselves – kromsrivier/ Algeria etc etc. The Algeria house cost about £44 per night but could accomodate 4 people comfortably..

The parks raise money through a permit system for using the paths and trails. Usually if you are staying one particular area, the trails / park fee is included for that particular area, but if you go to another zone you will have to pay, usually around £5 to £8 per day maximum to access trails . A bit different to the UK but it seems to work, as a lot of conservation management work goes on in the areas, for wildife and plants , and the area is a world heritage site….

Whilst in the area with Helen and Cori ( my wife and stepdaughter) we walked , looked at San rock art, saw great rock formations, cool waterfalls, rode mountain bikes and horses and generally had an awesome time.

I am looking forward to writing about the running bit next but wanted to put the place into context for any would be visitors because in my opinion the lonely planet is a bit hard to follow for the area and doesnt do it justice.

(By the way a 1:50 000 map can be purchased from the permit offices in the park  ( Algeria/ Kromsrivier / Dwarsrivier  or from Cape nature  in Clanwilliam..

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