Comment on the Gabriel Trail experience

We have had this response from a member of the group of hikers who walked the Gabriel Trail over the Easter Weekend:

The Cedarberg Heritage trails offer a unique package – a hike through what must be some of the country’s finest mountain scenery, with overnight accommodation provided by the communities of remotely situated Moravian villages. The trade-off is obvious and noble – hungry and weary hikers are fed and watered by the local people, who are paid a cut of the income generated by the trail. First stop was Langkloof, a village of about 25 families, situated at the end of a spectacular valley and accessible only by a North West province type road. Here, 79-year-old Oom Kosie and his wife welcomed us to their home where dinner was later served. Authenticity is the key word here – fried chicken, stoofboentjies, rice, roast potatoes and pumpkin- all sourced from the subsistence existence that is the community’s way of life, as it has no doubt has been for decades. Dessert was a baked pudding, accompanied by a massive bowl of custard. What struck me about our meal (and those that followed it over the course of the long weekend) was not only the sense of humility one inevitably feels at the generosity of those sharing the little that a deprived community like Langkloof has at its disposal, it was the obvious pride with which the food was prepared and served. For me, this was a rare encounter with culture and authenticity in the sense of truth to origins and to oneself, expressed through food. The breakfast and packed lunch for the next day’s hike were no different. They stood in stark contrast with the breakfast pack prepared by the Clanwilliam Lodge on the first morning of the hike, an assembly of chips, chocolates and an admittedly good muffin, all of which were no more authentic than a party pack prepared as a takeaway for a kiddies’ birthday party.

With acknowledgement to the writer’s blog www.like-father-like-son.net.

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Temporary trail closures due to fire

The huge fire at the end of January 2013 caused extensive damage in the northern section of the Cederberg Wilderness controlled by Cape Nature and also in the northern parts of the Moravian Church area in the eastern Cederberg region.

Cape Nature has closed the paths in the northern section of the Cederberg Wilderness until further notice in order to evaluate the ecological situation. At this stage it is not known how long the closure will need to last.

As a result of this situation we will not be able to accept bookings for the following trails until further notice:
· Klein Krakadouw Trail.
· Groot Krakadouw Trail.
· Pakhuis Trail.
· Wupperthal Trail – Now reopened see here >>
· Cederberg 100 Trail.
So the only trails that we can offer clients at the moment are the four night Gabriel Trail and the Wupperthal Trail. This is a very unfortunate interruption of our activities, but we don’t seem to have any other option.

We extend our sincere sympathy to all those in the area who have suffered serious losses as a result of the fire.

Peter Hart.
Chairman.

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The new Cederberg 100 Trail.

The new Cederberg 100 Trail will be inaugurated in Clanwilliam on Monday 13th August 2012. This is a seven day/eight night, 100km “slackpacking” trail running between the top of the Pakhuis Pass in the north to the Driehoek Resort in the central Cederberg. Two teams of six persons each will participate in the inauguration. Both teams will spend the night of 13th in Clanwilliam. On Tuesday 14th one team will start hiking southwards from the top of the Pakhuis Pass and the other northwards from Driehoek. Both teams will follow the same route, but in opposite directions. From the top of the Pakhuis Pass the route leads down via Amon se Vlak, Amon se Poort and Die Toring to Boskloof for the night. On the second day the route goes up Krakadouwpoort and over Krakadouw Pass to the Moravian village of Hueningvlei for the night. On the third day the route heads south via the Boontjieskloof Hut and Boontjieskloof to Brugkraal for the night. On the fourth day the route carries on south via Grasvlei, the spectacular waterfalls on the Grasvlei River and over Middelkopnek to Kleinvlei for the night. The route on the fifth day makes a deviation up Dassieboskloof for views of Skerpioensberg and Sneeukop and then proceeds to Eselbank for the night. On the sixth day the route goes over the mountain (weather permitting) to the little village of Langkloof for the night. On the last day the route goes over Gabriel’s Pass, with a deviation to the Wolfberg Arch, to Driehoek, where the group is met and conveyed back to Clanwilliam for the eighth night.

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Chairman’s Report to the 6th Annual General Meeting on 18 July 2012

The highlights of the year ending 29 February 2012 are as follows:

1. Our four overnight hiking trails continued to operate satisfactorily, with only some relatively minor problems. For 2012, in order to make the trails more affordable, we converted the Klein Krakadouw Trail from 3 nights to 2 nights and we reversed the direction of the Groot Krakadouw Trail so that the 4th night can be optional. We have also made the guided rock art walks optional on all trails.

A lot of effort was put into getting the new 4 night Gabriel Trail ready for operation.in 2012. This trail starts at the Driehoek Guest Farm in the central Cederberg, proceeds over Gabriel’s Pass to Langkloof and then carries on through Eselbank and Kleinvlei to Wupperthal. Assistance was provided for installing a solar hot water system in the Eselbank guest cottage, a very interesting hiking route over the mountain from Langkloof to Eselbank was marked out and Kleinvlei was assisted in procuring harnesses for their pack donkeys. This 5th trail is now operating.

There was a sharp reduction in bookings for the year to end-February 2012, compared to the previous years. Apparently this was a general tendency in the tourism industry. Unfortunately we do not have the financial resources to do more aggressive marketing and advertising of our trails. The Klein Krakadouw and the Pakhuis Trails were the most used. The results for our trails for the last four years are as follows:

Year Number of Bed Nights Sold
08/09 268
09/10 319
10/11 378
11/12 225
Totals 1190

Year Income to Service Providers (Rand)
08/09 118 807
09/10 171 911
10/11 227 336
11/12 157 849
Totals 675 903

2. 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. However, they no longer make reservations for ad hoc tourism activities in the Moravian villages. These have to be made directly with the various villages.

3. Our website, www.cedheroute.co.za, has a page that advertises the Donkey Cart Trails, the guest house accommodation available in the various Moravian villages, contact details and hiking highlights in each area. Early in the year under review our trails were featured in articles in the Getaway and Wild magazines and in Sunday Times Travel. Unfortunately, most journalists who write up trails for travel magazines expect to get free trips, which puts a severe strain on our very limited financial resources.

4. Since having assisted the Heuningvlei community last year to set up the Heuningvlei Tourism organisation, with a formal Constitution, we have now done the same for the villages of Kleinvlei, Eselbank and Langkloof at their request.

5. The weekend guide training camp run for us by the Cape Leopard Trust and held on 3 to 5 February 2012 at Matjiesrivier went off very well. Feedback from attendees was very positive. It has been suggested that this might become an annual event. We will follow this up with the Trust.

6. Our Hon. Treasurer, Denis Le Jeune, has been working with the Moravian Church and with the Provincial Authorities to try and develop a plan and find funding for the up-grade of the Wupperthal Museum into a properly functioning Community Heritage Centre that could be a proud feature of the local community and a significant tourist attraction. Some progress has been made but there are still a number of obstacles to be overcome.

7. The feasability of offering an 8-night/7-day trail from Driehoek in the central Cederberg to the top of the Pakhuis Pass in the north is being assessed. It has been suggested that it be named “The Cederberg 100” as the trail would be about 100km in length. Two parties of six hikers each are going to test out the proposed trail in mid August.

8. Our Tax Reg No and Tax Clearance Certificate from SARS have both been received, so we are now able to receive donations that are tax deductible in the hands of the donors.

9. Kate Bergh suggested that an attempt should be made to get more people in the Cederberg area interested and involved in CHR activities by forming an informal “Friends” group in the area, that might meet two or three times per year in Clanwilliam. She has kindly arranged a first meeting for 5.30pm on Wednesday 18th July at her home.

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

11. 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. .
5 Versveld Ave, Constantia, 7806.
Tel/fax: 021 794 6362
Email: pmghart@iafrica.com.

12 July 2012

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Hiker’s Comments

I would like to thank you on behalf of the Diekmann group for a wonderful and well- planned trip. We had a really great time and really enjoyed and appreciated the effort the local people showed us in Heuningvlei and Brugkraal. John, our guide from the last day, was really great and we were honoured to have him as our guide. All in all we rate the Wuppertal Trail 90%, so thank you.

Here is a link to some of the photo’s I took if you would like to see:

Kind Regards,

Tania.

(Note: This group had some criticism of the accommodation and meals in Wupperthal at the end of their trail. We have taken action to try to improve the situation there-Ed.)

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Overall, we enjoyed the 5 days very much, despite the topsy-turvy weather, with heat first and then some cloud and showers towards the end. The Longhouse was excellent in all respects. The accommodation in the Krakadouw Cottages was adequate. The food supplied at Heuningvlei was excellent for all meals, both in quality and quantity. Those who looked after us tried their best at all times to assist us, and they did it in an excellent spirit.The mountain guides and the donkey cart drivers were excellent.This was an excellent trek, and was enjoyed by all. The short walk on our rest day in Heuningvlei around their hills, finishing in a swim (in a lovely pool in the river-Ed.) was also very good.

Kindest regards,

Jeff Goy.

(Note: The Goy group also had some problems on their hike, which they kindly pointed out to us, and we have taken action to have them corrected-Ed)

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The charm of the trail is that you get a look into the life of a rural community and enjoy good country food and facilities.
Bob St Leger.
It is with great regret that we must advise you that Bob died in February 2011.


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The logistics worked extremely well. We were expected and welcomed at every point and our baggage was in place before our arrival. To walk each day in the lovely Cederberg surroundings, to have baggage carried and to have welcoming drinks, hot meals, hot showers, flushing toilets and comfortable beds each night makes for a very special kind of experience.
Anthony Keen.

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For me it (the trail) was an unforgettable experience, being accepted so openly by the friendly people hidden away in the mountains. An eye opener to see how well knit the small groups of families were. Scenery magnificent and interesting rock art. The donkey cart ride should be emphasized, it was such an exhilarating educational experience. The dinners were all great and the breakfasts fine.
Rose Stockwell.

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