3 DAY HIKE IN THE CEDERBERG
It was this hike that sparked the curiosity about women-only multi-day hikes. The Cederberg is a very remote area, and feels very safe for women to hike in small groups. Mama Cat did this hike with two women. They came across a couple in the Welbedacht Cave on day one, but otherwise saw no other people. A place where women can truly feel safe in nature!
There are so many routes that one can do in the Cederberg, below is Mama Cat’s account of a wonderful hike that was not too strenuous, slightly adventurous and beautiful as always.
Map: Maps.me - I marked out the route that I wanted to take on the app which works well offline.
Time of Year: End of August
Management & Bookings: Cape Nature
Getting there: We left at 6am from CApe Town so that we had enough time to hike to the cave on the day we arrived. Easy drive up the N7 and towards Algeria.
Check In: Algeria Reception, opens at 7:30am.
Parking: We parked our car near the Uitkyk Cottage, not sure if this an official parking but I have parked here before and it’s closest to the start of the route.
Facilities: There are no facilities on this hike. We did walk past a newly built compost loo but nothing close to the cave or Crystal Pools hut. The hut, which Cape Nature prefers to call a shelter, is very rudimentary. Four walls, a roof and shutters and a door that sort of closes if you are lucky.
Cost: We were initially going to stay in Uitkyk cottage the night before and after the hike so we paid R540 for the accommodation which included our permits.
Length: 3 days
Distance: 44.5km | 1865m elevation
Weather: It was freezing! Make sure you pack warmly, I have seldom ever hiked in a puffer and long pants for the day, but it was icy!
Water: There is no water in close proximity to the cave. Make sure you fill up at the nearest stream before you head to the cave, or be prepared for a short mission. At this time of year there is a stream close to Crystal Pools hut which we used for drinking and washing up.
Difficulty: This was a moderate hike, the elevation was reasonable and the days weren’t too long. We took it slowly and enjoyed the time in the mountains.
Notes: Always hang your bags up (cave or hut), and if you can’t hang up your whole bag then remove ALL food from your backpack and hang that up where the mice and shrews can’t get to them. The creatures will chew a hole in your nice backpack to get that peanut you forgot in there.
Day One: 16km | 740m Uitkyk to Welbedacht Cave
Departing from the Uitkyk parking we headed up Die Gat, along Uilsgat and then up Welbedacht towards the cave. A gorgeous hike, walking between the ancient Ceder Trees and the rocky outcrops you find across the Cederberg mountains. After a tea break at the Welbedacht stream we set off to find the cave. None of us had been to the cave and it was not as easy to find as we thought it would be. I dropped my pack and set off to find it. After a bit of a scramble I reached a plateau and saw the cave not too far off, a couple had already set up their tent so we knew where to go.
On the menu:
Lunch: Pre-made sandwiches
Dinner: Miso noodles with mixed veg, seaweed and spicy tofu
Day Two: 16k km | 415m Welbedacht Cave to Crystal Pools Hut
This was a gorgeous day. The morning started off with some stretches and finding incredible ice formations along the path. We headed up towards the kloof where one heads down to Crystal Pools, but I chose to explore a new part of the mountain. I don’t usually take detours so this was very exciting and we were well rewarded! We walked around Twin Rocks, South Peak and Laurie’s Hell. About halfway we came across a stream, not marked on the map, which turned into an incredible waterfall! The very brave Claudia climbed down and had a swim in the ICE cold water while the other two of us enjoyed the view. We looped back around and went down the beautiful rocky kloof which leads you to the path to Crystal Pools. After dropping our bags in the hut we went to watch the sunset around the back of the hut.
On the menu:
Day Three: 12.5km | 710m Crystal Pools Hut to Uitkyk
On our last day we chose the most simple route back to our car, heading back down the same way we came up once the paths rejoined. We spent the morning looking for all the Crystal Pools that we could find. The last time I did this hike we did not find the pools so we made the effort to seek them out for when we return in summer so we can enjoy them! There are many gorgeous pools in the area, worth spending a whole day exploring them. My favourite part of this day is a vlei I have walked through previously with a single Cedar Tree standing in the middle. After lunch on the way down we reached our car and headed back to Cape Town.
On the menu:
Breakfast: Overnight pear and chocolate oats, earl grey tea with oat milk.
Lunch: Recipe testing the Lentil Bobotie Stew - watch this space!
A beautiful hike in a beautiful reserve, definitely one for the list.