Cederberg Tour - Spring 2020

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

The Cerberg is spectacular with incredible mountains, valleys and rock formations. It was wonderful to see the difference to the last time I was there, this year was much greener and this gave another angle to the beauty. Sunsets and sunrises lend to unbelievable colour ranges - simply breathtaking.

The towns, villages and farms cater well for cycling tours, hiking tours and especially rock climbing tours. The Cederberg is know worldwide for the rock climbing with vast ranges of rock and mountain ranges and very knowledgeable local guides at hand. Winter is the time most rock climbers come to the Cederberg, hikers and cyclist tend to use the Spring and Autumn months as the climate can be be extremely harsh, bitterly cold in Winter and super hot in Summer.

Having done a tour in the Cederberg area before, we knew that there would be some climbing and possibly extreme weather conditions! Our group decided that 4 days would be a good time to explore and enjoy what the area has to offer. As the tour was reasonably tough with some long days between 4-6 hours a day and some proper climbing, we decided to take along a support vehicle with each of the 5 of us rotating the driving.

This works brilliantly as you always know that the vehicle is close at hand for possible emergencies, cold water, cold drinks and food! It of course also gives you the comfort that if you are having a bad day or need a little rest you can get into the vehicle. This was not needed as we were rotating the driving often enough and depending on the terrain and weather conditions.

Day one (84km) Citrusdal to Alpha Excelsior Farm. We left Cape Town around 7a.m and drove to Citrusdal (2 hours) leaving one vehicle at the Citrusdal Lodge we started our tour around 11a.m.

The first section of this ride is along the Olifantsriver to Clanwilliam. As you are following the river to the Clanwilliam dam it is a reasonably easy ride with rolling hills and pretty scenery, the water is very inviting but as we had quite a ride and started just before midday we pressed on. Our stop in Clanwilliam was much needed, it was now quite warm around 30C and we were in need for some cold drinks and some replenishment food, Pakhuis Pass was waiting for us!

Whew, quite a climb this, although not a very steep it is quite long (21km) and hitting it at the hottest part to the day it was quite a challenge! Never the less, we managed it fairly well and then had the wonderful descent to our stopover for two nights at Alpha Excelsior Farm. https://www.alphaexcelsior.co.za/about.php

Alpha Excelsior Farm is a super place to stay, caters for everyone and they are most helpful with relevant information of the region. We were very happy to be spending 2 nights here.

Day Two (86km) Alpha Excelsior Farm Loop. This was a hot day but fortunately we started off early and went up back the Pakhuis Pass so temperatures were relatively cool and this ascent not as long as from Clanwilliam side. One gets to understand how long the other side is when descending for 21km, it was awesome!

What made this day so great was the stop off at the Bushmans Cave to see the Bushmen paintings. Incredible spot they lived in, with stunning views for kilometres and the way the caves and rock formations were used by them, very clever ,almost like a manmade village. We were fortunate enough to be the only visitors so we got a real feel for how they lived in this vast, fairly harsh but incredibly beautiful area.

Although there weren’t any more major climbs for the day, there was still a lot of riding to be done and the short downhill finish back to Alpha Excelsior Farm was very welcome once again.

Tired bodies that night but we had an awesome day despite the heat.

Day Three (95km) . Alpha Excelsior Farm to Cederberg Park Kromrivier. This was the tough day of the tour! With over 2200m of climbing it was always going to be the “queen stage”!

We started off with a cool breeze and a tail wind for most of the ride, we were very fortunate that we did not have the heat of the past 2 days and with the slight wind behind us. It is very hard to describe the harsh beauty of this day, one has to see it to understand but beautiful it is no matter the how tough the day was. The ride just to Wuppertahl is long and has a few solid climbs. This was a day that we were very very thankful to have the backup vehicle to supply us with cold drinks and food and that positive psychological feeling of being able to get into the car if it got too tough. None of us did!

Wuppertahl is an amazing little village literally in the middle of nowhere and nestled in a valley in-between large mountains. The village had been very badly burnt in a fire and many of the villages lost there houses, but it was great to see that there was major building going on and they should be able to attract a large amount of visitors again soon.

We battled to find the local Cafe, ha ha main reason it was inside someone’s house, with stock literally in there bedroom and kitchen! After finding it eventually we went in and had a good laugh with the House/Cafe owner - great sense of humour she had!

After a few cold drinks we set off on our huge climb out of Wuppertahl….we had no idea what was coming, it is a beast of a mountain to climb out of and the gradients were insane. A local happened to start the climb with us on a very old creaky 26er with sandals and normal pedals, incredibly he does this climb to Eselbank, where he lives ,10 times a month. They breed them tough there!

Again it is difficult to explain the rugged beauty of this region, but once we had got to the top of the climb the terrain was almost like we were on the moon, sandy, rocky and very desolate it was almost eery….

The remainder of the ride was tough and the finish into Cederberg Park although downhill for the last 4 km was into a headwind. Tough, tough tough, I was finished and could hardly walk after getting off the bike1 However nothing an ice cold locally made beer couldn’t sort out and we were back to normal after an hour or so.

Our accommodation at Cederberg Park was awesome and we had a fantastic last nights braai with more than a little to drink - well deserved and great fun!

Day Four (78km) Cederberg Park to Citrusdal. Last day of the tour and and awesome finish especially the last 40km. We started off by climbing out of the valley which was not too bad but as we got to the plateau we headed into the teeth of a strong north wester and for 30km we battled into the headwind. Once we got to the turning point and down the wonderful descent into Algeria the wind was literally behind us all the way home. That descent now on tar and brick paving is really special with stunning scenery and its a long way down - good fun! The last 30km is along the Olifants River we started on and as it is mostly flat a wonderful way to finish the tour. This was my second tour in the Cederberg at the same time of the year, highly recommended as most days are not too hot and having just come out of the rainy season the usually dry and largely barren mountains have a tinge of green. Simply beautiful this area and well worth a tour.

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