On a recent visit to Cederberg Wines, I found myself in need of a place to rest my weary (and wine-filled) head. At 250 km from Cape Town, which takes about three hours to drive on account of a surprisingly mountainous gravel road, the Cederberg Valley is unfortunately a bit more effort than a simple day-trip away from the Mother City.
Luckily, my travel partners had the foresight to book a spot for us in one of the four-sleeper chalets at the Sanddrif Holiday Resort. Cosy, comfortable and with all the mod cons you could wish for, Sanddriff offers visitors to the Cederberg an affordable base from which to experience the various adventures and activities in the area.
Situated on the Dwarsrivier Farm, and managed by the team at Cederberg Wines, Sanddrif is the gateway to the famous Wolfberg Cracks. It’s one of South Africa’s must-see hikes, and nature lovers of all shapes and sizes could be seen coming and going from the parking lot at the base of the uphill hike.
Not being much of an outdoorsman myself, I was not left disappointed, thanks in no small part to the Cederberg wine estate and the Ceder Brew microbrewery in close vicinity, as well as the magnificent Stadsaal Cave system and its historic rock-art site.
The wine estate offers wine tasting six days a week for just R20, which in itself is a good enough reason to drive here from Cape Town. Read my earlier blog post on the estate here. A short (bumpy) drive away, into the Maitjiesriver Nature Reserve, is Ceder Brew which offers delicious breakfast and lunch options, and a range of oh-so-delectable beer to suit all tastes. From their Sandfish Weiss to their Sarie Marais Cherry Blonde, it’s all easy-drinking and won’t break the bank. Snack on a yummy home-made burger or toasted chicken sarmie while taking in the view, beer in hand.
Head over to the Cederberg Wines reception and purchase a permit to the Stadsaal Cave system (R40 per person). It’s another short gravel-road drive down the road, and offers a peek back into time. San rock paintings of elephants can be found near the caves, and are remarkably well-preserved in spite of their age (well over 1 000 years).
Hop back into the car and visit the caves themselves. A maze of hollow rock systems, easily accessible on foot and truly awe-inspiring. Graffiti-free, except for what can now be considered historic graffiti from as far back as 1888, I hopped in and out of the caves for hours, with a different view and an even more intriguing rock formation around every corner.
Sadly, it was time to leave, but I relished being able to tackle the Uitkyk Pass and Nieuwoudts Pass once again. While you can take this road (the R303) with a small vehicle, I would recommend something with a little more ground clearance and thicker tires than your average student hatchback. On the drive (there or back), be sure to stop off at the Kardoesie farm stall (just outside Citrusdal on the N7, near the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass) for a snack in the well-serviced and shamefully affordable restaurant.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Cederberg, but feel I missed out on a lot by not experiencing the Wolfberg Cracks. So, you can be sure I will be back on the gravel road less travelled sooner or later.
Photography courtesy Jonathan Meyer