Wolfberg Cracks/Arch in January

Hi there! :slight_smile:

My 30th birthday is coming up and I would love to spend it hiking through the cracks and sleeping over at the Wolfberg Arch. I’m looking for some advice on the following:

  1. Is this hike doable in mid-summer (Jan 20th)? Our plan is to start hiking early on the day before the harshest sunlight is out. Are the cracks mostly shaded?

  2. What is the fitness level needed to attempt this hike? I’ll be fine, but we have some unfit people in our crew, so I would just like to let everyone know how tough it is is before they decide if they would like to join or not.

  3. How much traffic is there on the hike over weekends?

  4. Is it advised to sleep over at Sanddrif the night before or is it possible to drive through from Cape Town the morning of and still be able to start early enough?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Anna

Here is a link to a thread about the Arch that has info in you might find useful:

  1. I’ve done this route in Jan & end Feb and it’s doable, if you are prepared. It is most likely going to be very hot. The cracks are pretty much the only shaded area, hiking up to them and the rest of the hike not so much. Would recommend starting the hike as early as you can to get the climbing done before the sun is at it’s highest. Which leads to your #4, most people I know doing that route drive directly from CT, I also do that but if possible stay over at Sanddrif the night before so that you can get started early.

  2. Maybe other people can also add their opinion here but it’s a very doable hike (beg to intermediate level) it’s about 6.2km (if I remember correctly) with the main elevation right at the beginning up to the cracks but don’t underestimate it, I think a lot of people do since you are still carrying your overnight bag and it’s warm. The rest of the route is pretty much flat with a slight ascent at the end up the Arch.

  3. Haven’t been up to the Arch again this year but I am hearing a lot of people are going there these days. Maybe less so in January but when you book your permits at CN you can always ask how many people got permits for the Arch. The area is big though and even if you don’t find a spot right underneath the arch there is still space to set up camp.

Again, can’t stress enough how important it is to carry enough water. See thread above but the closest potential water is another 4km round trip from camp and not guaranteed.

It’s a really beautiful route and the Arch is amazing experience so are the narrow and wide cracks.

Hope you enjoy the trip :slight_smile:

Very doable, but I would start hiking at sunrise as there are no trees and only about 3 areas where you can stop for shade on your ascent up the mountain before reaching the Wide Cracks. Luckily it is nice and cool in there rest of the way until you’re on top of the mountain, but then you still have 90 minutes or more to the arch, and it isn’t level all the way there.
The rocks around you give off a lot of heat.
Take plenty of water, 5 litres minimum for the 2 days there and back, I would go with 6 litres per person to be safer.
Sleep at Sanddrift before the hike
I arrived at the arch on Saturday last week at 11:30am and I was boiling hot and dumped my backpack on the ground and found shade to sit in for an hour before setting up tent. I started the hike at 7:20am, I should have left at first light after 5am for a cooler hike.

EDIT: I took 4litres of water for 2 days and I ran out the Sunday morning as we started hiking back from arch. Luckily someone in our group brought 7 litres with.

Hi TrailHunter!

Thanks so much for your informative and in-depth response, it’s much appreciated :slight_smile:

I think if we can get that initial ascent done early enough then hopefully the heat the rest of the way will be manageable.

Any case, thanks again!

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Hi Chuckmyster!

Thanks for the reply. I guess we’ll definitely need to get started as early as possible then, so sleeping over at Sanddrif the night before sounds like a plan!

Thanks for the advice regarding how much water to take :slight_smile:

Excllent, and remember to get your permits the afternoon before. You will also be given a code for the gate that takes you out the campsite towards the carpark for the hike, its only a 3 minute drive away

We were there this past weekend (just did it as a dayhike). There were 50 + people that slept at the Arch on Saturday night!!
Cape Nature is not controlling the numbers as they should.
It is also really becoming messy at the arch (toilet wise) as no-one carries out their toilet paper and thinks it’s bio-degradable…(as I also thought years before… :pensive:) so the bushes are littered with 2-ply Babysoft toiletpaper. :frowning:
So if you want to go when it’s quieter consider going during the week :slight_smile: and please take your toiletpaper out with you. :slight_smile:

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I blame Instagram for that. Pretty soon we’ll see people lighting fires there “vir die gees” while overnighting there.

Having more people outside nowadays is a double edged sword.

@PhilipV Last weekend I saw two spots were fires were made recently (welbedacht and crystal pools) and big ones at that. So sad :frowning: And the litter… I did see a new account on instagram (Outdoor Education Hub) that seem to be spreading some positive and informative social media vibes. Maybe accounts like this can help to counteract people flocking to certain places without any regard for the environment or safety.

@Susan1 we’ve been talking a lot about that recently, what CN could do to control the amount of people going there and I think a lot of people don’t even get permits. That delicate environment will suffer a lot if something is not done soon. They’re going to have to close the trail at some point for rehabilitation if things don’t get better. Very little in the ways of “leave no trace” principals out there these days.

It’s so flippen sad. The lady at Kromrivier said that a couple of years ago a group of boyscouts tried to burn their toiletpaper and burned down the mountain so yes, it’s an accident waiting to happen again. :cry:

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Hi Susan

This is sad to hear :frowning: Hopefully Cape Nature will get sort it soon.

I will be sure to take my loo paper out with me :slight_smile:

Sad to hear people are not respecting these special places and how much traffic there is at the moment.

We went up last December 28th to 29th and were the only 3 people to sleep over at the top.
It was around 36 degrees during the day and we only started after getting permits at Algeria on the way.
We had 4 litres of water per person which was not enough (there was no water on the mountain) and we had to manage that very carefully over the days.
The evening on the mountain was still quite chilly, quite normal for the area.
We went up via Gabriel’s Pass and down via the Cracks.

Did the trip with someone else in April again and it was cold and rainy, very wet and windy on the mountain.
Only one other group of 3 camped overnight.
This time we had too much water :smiley:
Went up and down via Gabriel’s Pass.

I recommend the Slingsby maps to everyone who wants to hike the area.
Just received a complimentary copy of the updated 2021 version of the Cederberg Hiking map set - will have to take it to the mountain soon, the plan is again during December but if traffic is that bad at the Cracks/Arch I will likely hike other parts of the area.

Saw a number of unfit people in December doing a day hike up and down as we were decending via the Cracks. Everyone made it but for some it seemed somewhat unpleasant.
There was also a crazy, superfit serious trail runner who went up and down like a racing mountain goat in the time it took us to walk halfway down from the Cracks to the parking lot :smiley:

Have fun, take enough water, warm clothes/sleeping bag for the night, take only photos and leave only footprints :slight_smile:

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