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Cederberg

OVERVIEW

Cederberg Mountains: Wilderness within reach…

The Cederberg Mountains lie 2½ hours north of Cape Town and the Winelands. Yet this is like no other area of the Western Cape. Here, there are no manicured gardens, glitzy shops or boldly- marketed attractions teeming with tourists. Rather, you experience a raw, rugged beauty and a sense of peace and tranquillity. The Cederberg feels like it is far away. But in fact it is surprisingly easy to get to. It is truly wilderness within reach.

As you arrive in the Cederberg, you realise the landscape has changed. It’s wilder and warmer. The Cederberg Mountains, brilliant purple in the late afternoon light, tower over the fruit-filled valley which is laden with the scent of orange blossom in the spring.

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Why we love it

Spectacular Views

Untamed wide open spaces and spectacular views

Beautiful Nature

Famous for its hiking, unusual rock formations, Bushmen rock art & stunning spring flowers

Great Bouldering

One of the world’s top 5 bouldering destinations

Wine Region

Up-and-coming wine region

OUR

Cederberg Lodge

Into the wilderness, out of the ordinary…

Cederberg Ridge is a luxurious wilderness lodge offering delicious food, warm hospitality, and adventure. Enjoy panoramic views over the natural rugged beauty of the Cederberg Mountains and the range of excursions and activities we offer.

A stylish ‘away-from-it-all’ experience, yet it’s only a 2½ hour scenic drive from Cape Town or the Winelands.

LoCATION

Getting to the Cederberg…

It takes an easy 2½ hours from Cape Town or the Winelands to get to Clanwilliam in the northern Cederberg (all on well-maintained tarred roads). 

Similarly, Swellendam and Robertson (great stopping points for the Garden Route) are only 3 to 3½ hours away. Whilst the West Coast (Paternoster and Langebaan) is only 2 hours away.

For exact driving directions to Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge, see How to Get There on our lodge page. 

Closest Airport

Cape Town

Drive time from Cape Town

Hours

Dry Season

Nov/Mar

Wet Season

May/Aug

(sporadic & low rainfall)

Best Time to visit the Cederberg

If you are a sun-lover then the Cederberg climate is for you! We have a much warmer climate than Cape Town, even though we are only 2½ hours’ north. Plus our winter climate is also noticeably warmer and drier. But we do have big seasonal differences…

Summer in the Cederberg

Our summers are hot, but dry, (so you don’t get sticky!) Perfect for the northern Hemisphere visitor keen to get some sun. If you want to be active, the ideal is to get up early, then come back for a late breakfast/brunch, and then do something less strenuous in the morning. In the afternoons you can relax around the pool or in your suite.

It generally cools down pleasantly in the evening and you can dine outside throughout the summer months. The Cederberg climate in early summer (November to December) tends to be less hot than January and February. Average daytime temperatures are typically 30-38°c. Evening temperatures are 25-30°c.

Some days can be very hot. But you can always either head up into the mountains where the higher altitude lowers the temperature. Or you can head to the Atlantic Coast. As, even though it is only 40 mins drive away, the sea breeze makes it remarkably cooler. It is usually only 25-28°c in summer..

Autumn for the Active

Our spring and autumn months are our favourite time of year. The day time temperatures are warm to hot, but you can still be active. The evenings are cooler but you can dine outside as long as you’ve got something warm to put on. Average daytime temperatures are typically 24-30°c. Evening temperatures are 15-20°c.

Daytime temperatures are such that hardy people try a dip in the pool. But we’ve built a heated pool at Cederberg Ridge to make the most of this time. 

Winter sunshine

There is a lot going for the winter climate in the Cederberg. Daytime temperatures can reach a pleasant 20-24°c, (much warmer than Cape Town!) So you can be active for the whole day, and still enjoy sitting outside for lunch. But our mornings and evenings are cold so this is the time for a long lie-in in bed, and red wine around the fire in the evening. Thus usually our activities start after breakfast. We are still a winter rainfall region, (like all of the Western Cape), so it can rain for a day or two. But we are officially a semi-arid region (less than 200mm per year) so you’re not likely to see much rain.


See our article on Reasons to Visit in Winter

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Spring flowers & fynbos

Spring is one of the best times to visit. The day time temperatures are warm, rather than hot, so you can still be active. As with most Spring weather, it can be quite variable, with some cooler days, some rain perhaps and some warmer days.

Early spring (August and early Sept if you are lucky) is the time of the wild spring flowers. Later on, the fynbos continues to flower into October. And everything is green, compared to the Mediterranean dryness of summer.

HIGHLIGHT 1

Unique in the Cape

We think that the Cederberg is the most African in feel of all the Cape destinations. What do we mean by that? Cape Town and the Winelands have a slightly Mediterranean feel to them. The Whale Coast and Garden Route are lush and verdant. They are all stunning destinations to visit. But the Cederberg feels very different even though it is only 2 hours to the north. Much wilder, much hotter, and very few people.

HIGHLIGHT 2

Amazing Hiking

The Cederberg Mountains rises majestically above the vineyards and citrus groves of the Oliphants River valley. There are a number of stunning hiking trails in the Cederberg.

HIGHLIGHT 3

Rock Art

The Khoi-San were the first inhabitants of Southern Africa, present from the Stone Age. For many thousands of years, the so-called Khoisan (in fact, several tribes of both hunter-gatherers and herders) were the largest human population on earth. Much of what we understand of the culture and beliefs of these indigenous people comes from paintings and engravings hidden in the landscape.

With some 2,500 documented rock art sites, the Cederberg is one of the best area in world to see some of their ancient rock paintings. These are usually to be found in lower-lying areas close to rivers often in caves or deep overhangs.

HIGHLIGHT 4

Bouldering

The northern Cederberg, which is where Cederberg Ridge is situated, is one of the top 5 areas for bouldering in the world.

The epi-centre of the bouldering sites is Rocklands which lies approx 15 minutes easy drive from us. The best time for bouldering is May to August as this is our winter time so the days are usually sunny and warm. But not too hot.  

Check out our article about Bouldering at Rocklands in the northern Cederberg

HIGHLIGHT 5

Spring Flowers

The northern Cederberg makes a great base to visit the wild spring flowers which bloom on mass during August (and early September if you are lucky.) The best displays are to be found in the Biedouw valley, the Doring River and Nardouwsberg which are all a scenic drive from Simbavati

HIGHLIGHT 6

Wine Tasting

The Cederberg is also an up and coming wine region, with a number of boutique wine estates joining the more established Cederberg Cellars. You can visit some of these wine estates, either en route to us. Or during your stay. Kromrivier, Cederberg cellars and Driehoek are all in the high Cederberg. Whilst Tierhoek and Piekenierskloof are en route to us. Yet more wine estates are to the north.  

HIGHLIGHT 7

Rooibos

Rooibos is a major industry in the Cederberg. The Cederberg also happens to be the only place in the world where rooibos tea can be successfully grown. So this healthy caffeine & tannin-free tea is exported throughout the world to Europe, Japan and the USA for example. You can enjoy a Rooibos farm tour with us, or visit the House of Rooibos in nearby Clanwilliam.

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The story of Kleinvlei Farm is a captivating journey through time, deeply intertwined with the region's history and Simbavati Cederberg Ridge’s owning family's heritage. 

A Legacy Born in 1807 

Kleinvlei Farm, nestled within the picturesque Cederberg Mountains, has a history dating back to the arrival of Irish settlers in Clanwilliam in 1807. Clanwilliam itself stands as the 7th oldest town in South Africa. One of our owner’s, Anton's ancestors, particularly Oloff Martinus Bergh, had explored this land in the late 17th century, marking the Bergh family's connection to the Cederberg.

Among these settlers was William Parker, the leader of the Irish Settlers. He was granted a portion of land to farm, known as Kleine Valley, which is today's Kleinvlei Farm. However, William Parker's longing for the lush, rainy landscapes of his Irish homeland prompted his return, leaving behind a unique Mediterranean climate that the Cederberg is known for today. The Shaw family, among the settlers, chose to make Kleine Valley their home instead.

One of our scenic farm walks offered at Simbavati Cederberg Ridge takes you through Shaw's Kloof, where the remains of their modest cottages can still be found. The settlers later relocated further down the valley, constructing a long, white-washed thatched house. It was in the 1840s that the Bergh descendants of Oloff Bergh returned to the area. They initially purchased a farm in the "Agter Pakhuis" area, on the other side of the Cederberg Mountains. Later, they moved to a farm atop Pakhuis Pass, where Cape Nature's headquarters now stand. In 1907, the Bergh Family acquired Kleinvlei Farm, which remains in the family to this day. Over time, the original 1820s house was extended to become a spacious four-bedroom home.

Water, the Lifeblood of Farming 

The success of Kleinvlei Farm, like many in the Cederberg, depends on its water supply rather than the size of the land. Our region receives less than 200mm of rain annually, classifying it as semi-arid. However, a river flows through Kleinvlei, making farming viable. Generations of Berghs have played a role in shaping the farm's irrigation channels, which diverted the river to sustain our fruit orchards. Anton's father, Dennis, built a substantial farm dam, enabling Dennis and Anton to expand the farm's operations.

Tragedy struck in 2013 when the original 1820s thatched Cape Dutch homestead, where Anton's widowed mother lived, was lost to a devastating fire. The thatched roof made the fire consume the house in just half an hour. While it was a heart-wrenching loss, we are thankful that no one was hurt in the fire. Anton's mother chose to move into a smaller home, and we made the decision to build Simbavati Cederberg Ridge in place of the old farmhouse. It had long been our dream to showcase this little-known region through a lodge.

Farming on Kleinvlei Today 

Our farm spans 3,000 hectares in the Cederberg area, and we primarily cultivate table grapes and citrus.

Table Grapes:

The harvest season runs from mid-December to the end of February. Speed is of the essence to pick, pack, and store the grapes once they ripen. Our grapes are exported to the northern hemisphere during their winter season when local production is limited. Producing high-quality table grapes involves meticulous care, including pruning the vines and shaping the bunches for a classic appearance. In peak season, we employ approximately 100 people to pick and pack the grapes.

Citrus:

The citrus harvest begins in April and continues through September. Our farm yields several types of oranges, each serving a distinct purpose, whether for consumption, juicing, or jam-making. The freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast is sourced right from our farm.

A Modern Approach to Farming 

Today, farming is an industrial process, with cold stores and packing sheds taking the place of picturesque outbuildings. The original farmstead was not rebuilt in its initial location for this reason. Kleinvlei boasts four large cold stores, two packing sheds (one for citrus and one for grapes), and a makeshift air cooling system due to the sweltering heat. We also collaborate with overseas supermarkets, packing produce with their labels, or offer our own brand when dealing with wholesalers. Farm tours are a part of our offerings, and we extend support to Lemoenland pre-school, an infant school we established for the children of our farmworkers and neighboring farms. It is an ongoing testament to the sense of community and history that Kleinvlei Farm represents.

Discover more about Simbavati Cederberg Ridge: https://www.simbavati.com/lodges/cederberg-ridge/ 

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Cederberg mountains

Cederberg

Cederberg Ridge

Unearthing the Rich History of Kleinvlei Farm in the Cederberg

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The Cederberg, a ruggedly beautiful region of South Africa with a remarkable history, tells a story that traverses through time. It spans from the original inhabitants, the San and Khoikhoi people, to colonial explorers, early settlers, and later conflicts and triumphs.

The Original Inhabitants 

Long before European settlers arrived, the Cederberg was home to the San, or Bushmen people, and the Khoikhoi people. The San were hunter-gatherers who roamed this vast land, leaving their legacy in the form of ancient rock art found in caves and overhangs throughout the region. Some of these rock art depictions date back over 2,000 years and portray herds of eland, elephants, leopards, and more.

Early Explorers

The first European contact with the Cederberg was made by the explorer Bartholomew Dias when he spotted these imposing mountains from the Atlantic Ocean. He named them the "Sierra dos Reis," which translates to the "mountains of the three wise men of the East." These three mighty peaks, including Sneeuberg, Sneeukop, and Tafelberg, are still visible from Cederberg Ridge today.

The name "Cederberg" itself originates from the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis). This rare and endemic tree typically thrives at altitudes above 1,500 meters. It is revered for its fine-grained wood, but the arrival of European settlers nearly led to its complete extinction. The cedar tree was heavily utilized for furniture, housing, and even telegraph poles. Today, these trees are strictly protected, with only isolated, hard-to-reach specimens remaining.

Early Colonization 

Around 1670, one of the earliest colonists to the Cape, Marthinus Oloff Bergh, led an expedition north from Cape Town to explore the Cederberg. The owners of Simbavati Cederberg Ridge are proud 10th generation descendants of this visionary explorer. Bergh's scouting party encountered the river that flows through the valley, observing herds of elephants along its banks, leading to its apt naming as the Oliphants River. Regrettably, these elephants were eventually hunted to extinction in the region by later settlers.

Clanwilliam's Growth

The Cederberg area began to see population growth with the arrival of the 1820 settlers from England and Ireland. Although many of these settlers initially found the area challenging due to its mountainous terrain and Mediterranean climate, Clanwilliam, one of South Africa's oldest towns, steadily expanded. Clanwilliam's establishment as a municipality in 1808 marked an important milestone. In fact, it is the seventh oldest town in South Africa, a testament to its historical significance.

Impact of the Anglo-Boer War 

The Cederberg was the unexpected southernmost battleground of the Anglo-Boer War. Boer commandos traveled southward from their strongholds in northern South Africa, aiming to threaten the English Cape Colony. The town of Clanwilliam, the northernmost English stronghold, was a focal point of this conflict. The Boers sought to garner local support from Dutch-descendant farmers, but their efforts proved futile. These farmers, while harboring no love for English colonial governance, believed that the English would ultimately emerge victorious, and they feared repercussions. As a result, they chose to remain loyal to the English.

The Englishman's Grave 

A poignant episode from this era is that of Lieutenant Clowes, an Englishman leading a patrol from Clanwilliam. His patrol was ambushed by a Boer commando, resulting in his tragic death. He was buried on the spot, and his family later erected a headstone resembling a Celtic cross with the words "brave and true." This location became known as Englishman's Grave, and Lieutenant Clowes' mother made the arduous journey from England to visit her son's grave each year until 1936.

Clanwilliam Dam and Rooibos Tea 

The construction of Bulshoek Dam in 1914 marked an important turning point for the area's fortunes. The much larger Clanwilliam Dam was built in 1935 and later expanded in 1964. These developments allowed neighboring farms access to the vital resource of irrigation water. Today, the region's primary agricultural products are wine, table grapes, citrus, and renowned rooibos tea. Plans for further dam enlargement are in the works, offering potential for continued growth.

Cederberg Wilderness Reserve

The Cederberg Wilderness Reserve was officially established in 1973, serving as a protected area that now spans about 5,250 hectares. In 1987, an additional reserve was established with the primary goal of preventing the Clanwilliam cedar tree's extinction. These trees, remnants of a colder era, are now found on cooler mountain slopes in remote, inaccessible areas. All farming livestock was removed from the Cederberg Wilderness Reserve, and small quantities of indigenous fauna were reintroduced, allowing the mountain fynbos to recover. The reserve has become a cherished wilderness destination, providing solace for those seeking refuge from the demands of modern life.

Simbavati Cederberg Ridge - setting

Cederberg or Cedarberg? 

A curious historical note is that the English name for the region was initially the Cedarberg, while the Afrikaans name was Sederberg. About 15-20 years ago, it was decided to merge the two names into the new name, Cederberg. As a result, you may encounter both spellings: Cedarberg and Cederberg.

The Cederberg, with its rich tapestry of history and natural beauty, continues to enchant visitors, offering a captivating glimpse into the past while embracing the present.

Discover more about Simbavati Cederberg Ridge:

https://www.simbavati.com/lodges/cederberg-ridge/

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Cederberg

Cederberg Ridge

The History of the Cederberg

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Simbavati Cederberg Ridge owner, Kate Bergh, shares the benefits to selecting our Full Board and Activities option

Simbavati Cederberg Ridge - walking

When Simbavati Cederberg Ridge opened its doors, we naturally wanted to accommodate people who were passing through the Cederberg, as well as those coming to spend a few days at our wilderness lodge. So we offered a Dinner, Bed & Breakfast rate.

However, this does not suit most guests best, and many of them don't realise it until they stay. If you're staying for longer than 1 night and planning on enjoying some activities while you take in the Cederberg splendour, the Full Board and Activities option is ideal.

Simbavati Cederberg Ridge - rock art

Benefits of booking Full Board & Activities

  • It’s the best value for money, if you plan on doing excursions during your stay rather than to book Dinner, Bed & Breakfast and pay for activities and lunch when you arrive
  • You get first choice in the activities
  •  There is less to pay when you’re on holiday, as you’ve paid more in advance. (We even have a drinks supplement so that you can pay for that ahead of time as well, if you wish)
  • Some Value Adds are included in the Full Board and Activity rate, such as the complimentary use of E-Bikes and ad hoc yoga classes
  • We take care of your stay. You don’t have to research what there is to do in the area. Simply select which planned activities you feel like doing each day. Fewer decisions makes for more down-time
  • The extra cost of booking Full Board and Activities is much less if you stay for 3 or 4 nights. Our long stay offers are 50% off your 3rd night's stay or stay 4 nights but only pay for 3 nights
Simbavati Cederberg Ridge - firepit

Linger a little longer

The lodge is an inviting place to relax and unwind. The Cederberg beckons to be explored and the views are an allure to stay and breathe for a while. That’s why we encourage longer stays of 3 nights or more.

Though we have enough activities to entertain guests for 4 night stays or longer, we will gladly swap out a morning or afternoon activity for a 30 minute treatment in the spa.

Valid for stays of 3+ nights only. 

Simbavati Cederberg Ridge - spa

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Simbavati Cederberg Ridge - walking

Cederberg

Cederberg Ridge

Why Choose Full Board and Activities