Cederberg Winter Hike, input pls

Good day all.

I’m planing a Cederberg hike for my merry crew and looking for grist for the mill. We’re unfamiliar with the area thus have a few puzzles to resolve. I thought I’d ask for input, any input, from those with more experience. Basically, it’s a brain storming session…

The situation:
We’ll be coming from Gauteng. There will be more than one car so a loop-hike is not our only option. June-end to early July. Looking at 3-5days. About 5 people. Weather will be hard to predict that far ahead, but bookings need to be made. There are basically three ideas/opinions at present:

  1. Book a long wilderness hike and commit come hell or high water.
  2. Do a base-camp/day-hike thing or
  3. Just get there and see?

We’ve read through Willem’s https://www.hikingsouthafrica.co.za/central-cederberg-circuit/ write up (CCC) and this has major appeal for all in our group. Weather’s a bit of a determining factor as we don’t all have snow gear and I reckon it’s going to be a frosty one this year.

So…

  • Any thoughts or strategy on how to manage a situation like this where maintaining many options are possible?

  • Should I just book with Cape Nature for wilderness access and then make it up as we get there?

  • Do you find last minute wilderness bookings through CN feasible, or best avoided and is winter more choc-a-bloc?

  • Are private access points better for this kind of schema?

  • Perhaps something other than the CCC springs to mind?

  • If day hikes from a base is the result any recommendations on where to base?

  • And, lastly, one in our party would like to know, for those who can compare, is the elevation gain and loss on average similar to Lower Berg hike? (Map will indicate,just thought I’d ask)

I have just purchased the ‘Slingsby Hike the Cederberg’ map and will pore over it. What a treasure. So that’s a good start. Apologies if it’s all a bit higgledy-piggledy, but this idea’s still very fresh for us. As an aside I must say looking at the map I’m pretty blown away by this area, you can hike, sip pints, visit the Cederberg Cellars, for some of us a must. Pretty amazing.

Thanks for reading.
C.

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Hey Carl, will let people with a lot more experience than I have cover most of this, but have done a bit of hiking in the area and will throw thoughts in.

Cederberg can get chilly and windy, so definitely pack for that. But nice to not have to haul that much water :sweat_smile:

There are amazing day hikes and both Algeria and Kliphuis are great campsites. But the thing I’ve enjoyed most about the Cederberg is with the Slingsby map you can plot your own adventure to suite you, camping anywhere. So if the group is up to it I would definitely overnight in the reserve.

If I wanted to keep options open, Algeria as a base camp or starting point would be my pick. Can star several multi days from there, there are some nice day hikes or an overnighter and day hike mix. Plus close enough to the pubs/farms/springs if you just wanted to do something else for a day.

I’ve personally never struggled to book wilderness access through CN even with only a days notice. Camp sites at Algeria can get a little tighter, and cottages more so. Have never not got a spot at Kliphuis, in fact it has frequently been empty, which is lovely.

The only thought to keeping hiking options open is you technically have to book a reserve block. But I haven’t had any trouble booking one then hiking across multiple. You probably just want to book the correct starting block. Maybe the western one with Crystal pools/Maltese etc (Can’t off the top of my head remember the labeling) get full, but I have done multiday hikes in the eastern one by Klipuis several times and never seen a soul.

I can’t give any berg comparisons, but what might help is going to Caltopo, turn on the OpenCycleMap layer then click add line and start plotting out some routes using your Slingsby as reference. Good fun always. But the nice thing is next to the line object you can click profile and get a full overview of the hike (Length, elevation change etc). Then do the equivalent for some hikes you know in the berg and you can compare them easily.

No matter what you decide on it’s a great area to hike, I’m still finding routes I haven’t tried.

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Thanks @Jaxz.
Reckon that just about covers it. Seems simple enough. I was probably over thinking it, like that pudding with all the stuff in it…? Trifle!

We’re definitely doing overnights, hopefully for the whole trip. I’ve been studying the maps and it looks very promising for customised treks. Maybe we’ll do a north-south mission, though not the whole length.

Thanks for the insights.
c.

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What i can add, is that the only bookings that tend to fill up quickly are for the actual campsites like Algeria, Sanddrif etc. It would be recommended to book wilderness permits for your chosen multiday route, and amend the plans if the weather doesnt play along. There are decent spots to wild camp close to the road in central Cederberg without having to book campsites.

Because the wind/rain/sleet in Cederberg is due to winter cold fronts, the forecasts 3-5 days in advance are fairly reliable. And many times the cold fronts pass much further to the South as anticipated, so predicted rain may not always arrive.

The nights are “ice-breaker-plus-liner-and-down-jacket” cold, but if no cold fronts it is fairly dry. The Cederberg is an international rockclimbing haven, due to the good rock but also the cold & dry winters which provide ideal climbing conditions.

Hope this helps

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And don’t count on huts or caves being empty. Most of the time they are, but arriving at a hut or a cave on a rainy day and finding it full is a sad sight. Always carry a tent :wink: :+1:

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Thanks @Gerrienel @Arno, I’ll pack my winter woolies and I’m definitely a tenter, caves always make me wonder “now where is the precious”

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“now where is the precious”

:joy: :ok_hand:

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So in typical fashion we (our hiking group) are having extended gear discussions. Seems no one knows that everyone else knows best.

One thing we’re spinning around is boots. Looking at the climate-weather situation it looks like it’s mostly dry, warmish during the day, cold at night, with chance of storms which can be monitored before the time…is this right?

And mostly on well kept paths, little bundus? Of course depending on what you do but let’s say we’re either doing the Central Cederberg Circuit (as written by WillemB) or a traipse from Kliphuis to Sanddrif, kinda along that first section of Rim of Africa.

Some of us don’t have boots, that’s the catch. So a 3-to-4000ZAR purchase has set the grumbles a-going. This is a really-really tired topic, I know, but would any of you experienced Cederberg hikers reckon it’s perfectly doable in trail runners, thick woolly socks etc…barring impending storms, that is

thanks.

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Somehow I have managed to avoid too much bad weather in the Cederberg, so can’t speak to that side. But all my hiking there has been done in trail runners, and can’t say I have ever felt like boots would have helped in any way :man_shrugging: Sounds hot an heavy. Will say that trail runners with a proper tread and cushioning are nice, I wouldn’t want to be wearing a pair of running shoes.

2 pairs of socks, rotate and clean dirty ones at lunch, a pair of AR gaiters to keep irritating things out the top and then a nice warm pair of socks for camp works for me. Big trick for me with the trail runners has been just carry less weight where I can. Makes everything about hiking better :sweat_smile:

If I’m picturing the Kliphuis-Sanddrif route right then chunks of the first and last day will be on pretty easy tracks and jeep tracks as well.

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You know the Cederberg can turn into 12" of snow in 4 hours right?
You should prepare accordingly, especially in Winter.

I wouldn’t stress too much about the bookings side - wilderness availability is pretty much always open and Winters not an option. if you extend your stay please ensure that you make it right afterwards.

I would think things through on the clothing side if you’re overnighting in winter especially shoes / boots, not sure I could get behind running shoes in winter. if you do, take either waterproof socks or wear plastic bags over your socks.

Good luck and enjoy the crispness of the air

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