A Short History of the Cederberg Heritage Route

It all began in October 2006 when a group of senior citizen hikers from Cape Town spent a few days in the Cederberg at the Krakadouw guest cottages in Boskloof near Clanwilliam. We had heard that there was a guest cottage called Nossie’s Place, owned by Mrs Maria Solomon, in the Moravian village of Heuningvlei that could sleep six or seven persons. So we devised our own slackpacking hiking route that involved spending the first night at Krakadouw, then hiking up Krakadouwpoort to Heuningvlei, where we spent the second night at Nossie’s Place, on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. The next day we hiked from Heuningvlei to the Pakhuis Pass

This trip left two of our hiking group, Denis Le Jeune and Peter Hart, wondering why there were no slackpacking trails in the Cederberg area, such as the Whale Trail in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the Tsitsikamma Trail and the Wild Coast Meander. The main way of experiencing the wonders of the Cederberg mountains, apart from day hikes from one of the holiday resorts in the area, was by serious back packing and sleeping rough in caves or tents. Noting that the very succesful Whale Trail was the brainchild of Cape Nature, and since the Cederberg Wilderness is under their control, Denis and Peter went to talk to Cape Nature at their headquarters in Cape Town about the concept of creating slackpacking trails in the Cederberg.

Cape Nature were supportive of the idea and it was suggested that the way to go might be to set up a public/private partnership in the form of a non-profit organisation. Jaco Rheeder, Business Unit Manager for the Cederberg Mega Park, arranged a meeting of interested parties in Wupperthal on 8th March 2007. At this meeting Peter outlined the concept of slackpacking trails in the Cederberg and Denis discussed the need to establish a Not-for-Profit organization. Their ideas received support and it was agreed to set up a Planning Committee to progress the matter further.

Some of the people deeply involved in the planning were Charl du Plessis and Rika du Plessis from Cape Nature, the Rev FA Hans of the Wupperthal Moravian Church, Inga Valentyn of Wupperthal Tourism, Abraham Ockhuis from the Heuningvlei Donkey Cart Trail, Ewert Manuel of Brugkraal and Terence Winberg representing Prof John Parkington and the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project (CLLP) which specialised in guided rock art tours. Progress was rapid and by October 2007 we were ready to establish the new organisation and then complete the planning for the initial slackpacking hiking trails.

At this time Cape Nature and the Heuningvlei/Wupperthal community had just established the Donkey Cart Trail from the top of the Pakhuis Pass to Heuningvlei, so this was incorporated into the first three hiking trails, as were guided rock art walks presented by trained CLLP personnel. A major breakthrough in the planning process was made when Kate Bergh of Cedarberg African Travel (CAT) agreed to provide a central reservation service in her office near Clanwilliam for the proposed hiking trails. CAT is a well-established tour operator that designs tailormade tours, exclusive safaris, family holidays & flexible self-drive tours to Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. Our central booking office is run very effectively by Michelle Truter, supported by other CAT staff.

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 organisations were the Moravian Church at Wupperthal, the Wupperthal Tourism Association, Cape Nature, the Clanwilliam Tourism Association, Cedarberg African Travel and CLLP. In addition, membership of the organisation 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 organisation 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.

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.

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Client feedback on the Cederberg 100 Trail

Dear Peter and Michelle

This is just to thank you for organising our holiday in South Africa. It really was a fantastic experience!

We enjoyed everything, but the Cederberg 100 hike was an absolute highlight, probably the best walk we’ve ever done. We learned such a lot, and have come home with very happy memories of the stunningly beautiful landscape and the people who welcomed us and looked after us so well. And we were impressed to see how this sort of tourism can work so positively with communities.

Thanks very much,

Best wishes,

Judith and Paul Wilson.

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TRIPLE HIKING HOLIDAY – a special treat for overseas visitors

The Triple Hiking Holiday is a special package of three different hiking experiences specially put together for visitors to the Western Cape area of South Africa who enjoy hiking. The tour starts and finishes at Cape Town International Airport. The hikes are fully guided on good trails. All transfers, accommodation and meals are included, except that the Cape Town section is on a Bed & Breakfast basis. The three hiking experiences are described below:

CEDERBERG MOUNTAINS – After a three hour drive from Cape Town Airport and a light lunch in Clanwilliam, the afternoon’s walk leads you among element-sculpted rose-red rocks to a charming hamlet, where the villagers will provide meals and a comfortable night in their thatched roof guest house. The next day’s hike is longer, but donkey carts are available for those preferring a lighter day; the night is spent in the smallest village – 4 houses! – in the area. On the the third day’s hike you pass waterfalls & mountain pools before reaching Kleinvlei, the remotest village of the Moravian community. On the fourth morning a short hike through a spectacular gorge brings you to Wupperthal, a Mission village dating to 19th Century, and where your transport will be waiting to take you to the winelands of the Cape.

ELGIN WINELANDS – Only a few hours drive from the Cederberg, you will discover the lovely tapestry of fynbos and fruit farms surrounding the “Green Mountain”, whose trails are gentle and interspersed with opportunities for wine-tastings. The cherry on the top? Three nights in a beautifully refurbished four star country house more than two centuries old, serving gourmet dinners & local wines. The historic homestead is set against the majestic mountains and is home to an extensive contemporary South African art collection.

CAPE TOWN & CAPE of GOOD HOPE – From the comfort of a 4-star hotel in the iconic Waterfront (4 nights), you will enjoy two days of hiking and one day to visit some of the area’s famed sites: ascend Table Mountain (1 052m) by cableway, then hike towards the lush Constantia Valley; drive down the Cape Peninsula to Cape Point Nature Reserve and after admiring the penguin colony at Seaforth, hike along the False Bay coast to Cape Point; visit the District Six Museum and/or the Castle and/or Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison and end up by exploring the extensive (& expanding!) Waterfront for some last- minute shopping!

Booking details for the Triple Hiking Holiday are provided in the Hiking Trails section of this website.

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2nd ANNUAL CEDERBERG 100km WALK, 21st to 31st August 2014

“Stap Saam” in celebrating Clanwilliam’s 200th anniversary (one of the 10 oldest towns in South Africa) by taking part in the iconic

Cederberg 100 km Walk

http://www.cedheroute.co.za/?page_id=1071

Eleven teams of 4 to 6 hikers per team will spend 7 days walking from Pakhuis Pass to Driehoek, with the first team starting on Thursday 21st August and the last on Sunday 31st Aug.

The arrival of the 1st team will coincide with the opening of the famous Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show at 18h00 on 28th August at the “Historical Flower Church” in the Main Street of Clanwilliam, which will be closed for the length of the proceedings.

This is a “slackpacking” hike, with accommodation, meals, guides to show you the route & baggage transfers provided by the Moravian villages in the Wupperthal area.

By taking part in this hike, you will not only experience the wonderful hospitality of the Cederberg folk, but also help them in a community tourism venture.

BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT!

http://www.cedheroute.co.za/?page_id=62

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A new Cederberg hiking map from Slingsby Maps.

Earlier this year Slingsby Maps published a new hiking map for the Cederberg called “Hike the Cederberg”. It is to a scale of 1:40 000, is printed on two double sided sheets and is available online and from book stores and outdoor shops.

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All our trails are open again.

Please note that Cape Nature has now (from 3 September 2013) re-opened the paths in the northern section of the Cederberg Wilderness for our Cederberg Heritage Route Trails. The huge veld fire at the end of January 2013 caused extensive damage in this northern area and as a result the paths were closed for about seven months. Now that the paths are open again we can accept reservations for all six of our trails.

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The Cederberg 100 Trail has been re-opened

In order to re-open the Cederberg 100 Trail we have made some temporary modifications to the routes used on the first three days, to avoid the areas seriously damaged in the large veld fires earlier this year. We believe that hikers will find that the modified routing is still very interesting and challenging. The total distance is still close to 100km. Please contact our Reservation Office for details of the route. (Michelle at michelle@cedarberg.co.za or tel: 027 482 2444)

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Summer and winter discount of 10% on trail prices.

Trail price discounts of 10% are now available for the summer months of January and February and for the winter months of June and July.

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Chairman’s Report to the 7th Annual General Meeting on 17th July 2013

1. Our slackpacking trails continued to operate satisfactorily during the year. The new Gabriel Trail operated for the full year and has been well received. The Cederberg 100 Trail, which is an eight night/seven day trail of about 100km, was inaugurated in August 2012 by two teams of six hikers. One group walked from north to south, starting at the Pakhuis Pass and ending at the Driehoek Tourist Farm. The other group did the trail in reverse. Both groups experienced some very wet, cold weather, but they were not deterred from completing the hike, albeit with some changes in routing to avoid swollen rivers. The participants agreed that the Cederberg 100 was a very interesting and manageable trail and should be included in our portfolio of trails. It will be offered only in the north to south direction.

The large fires in the northern Cederberg early in 2013 caused Cape Nature to close all the hiking paths in that area until further notice. As a result, for the time being, we have had to cease operations on all of our trails except the Gabriel Trail, which operates in the central Cederberg which was not burnt. However, the Wupperthal Trail is now available again, using a somewhat different routing for Day 2 in order to avoid the burnt areas.

2. The results for the year ending 28 February 2013 showed a considerable improvement on the previous year, but our trails are still very under utilised as can be seen from the numbers below. We are busy with a campaign to advertise our trails to as many hiking clubs in South Africa as we can reach. We have not yet made any significant impression on the potential overseas market and welcome any suggestions.

Only 104 persons walked our trails, we sold 389 bed-nights and the income to our Service Providers was R249 914.

3. The comparative results for the last five years were 08/09, 268 bed-nights and R118 807, 09/10, 319 bed-nights and R171 911, 10/11, 378 bed-nights and R227 336, 11/12, 225 bed-nights and R157 849, 12/13, 389 bed-nights and R249 914, making a total of 1579 bed-nights and R925 817.

4. Cedarberg African Travel has continued to provide a central reservation office for our Trails and to co-ordinate the activities of the many local Service Providers. I thank them for their efficient and enthusiastic support. We couldn’t operate without them.

5. A second weekend guide training camp was run for us by the Cape Leopard Trust and held on 1 to 3 February 2013 at Matjiesrivier. It went off very well. Feedback from attendees was very positive. We hope that this will become an annual event.

6. Our website, www.cedheroute.co.za, contains full information on all our trails as well as a page that advertises the Donkey Cart Trails, the guest house accommodation available in the various Moravian villages, contact details for each village and hiking highlights in each area. During the year there were articles about the Cederberg Heritage Route in Getaway magazine and Go magazine and in the July 2013 issue of Country Life there is an extensive article about the Cederberg 100 Trail.

7. There has been a concern that Cape Nature permits for day hikes in the Cederberg Wilderness are not available in the Moravian Church area of the eastern Cederberg nor, over weekends, in Clanwilliam in the west. Cape Nature have now agreed to allow Heuningvlei Tourism to issue permits, under the necessary conditions. They will also try to find a way of making permits available in Clanwilliam at weekends.

8. The Management Committee has met three times since the last AGM.

9. I would like to thank the Moravian Church for providing the venue for our meetings, the committee members for all their efforts and the Service Providers for their enthusiastic support.

Peter Hart,
Chairman. 12 July 2013.

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Permits for the Cederberg Wilderness

Day Walk permits for the Cederberg Wilderness area are now available, seven days per week, from the Cape Nature office at their Kliphuis Campsite on the Pakhuis Pass, that has been re-opened recently. This is a convenient place to get your permit (or permits) if you are planning to hike into the Cederberg Wilderness from the Moravian villages on the eastern side of the mountains. For further information see the “Other Activities” page in this website.

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