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Hiking the wolf cracks in the Cederberg Mountains

Posted by Action Gear on

By Albert van Niekerk

I knew I should have printed the directions but, like always, I never did. The sun was setting and darkness approached quite rapidly as the mist eerily started to swallow the gravel mountain pass that we were driving on. Even though I was convinced that we must have missed a turnoff somewhere, I refused to admit that we were lost. I just kept on driving, pretending that I knew exactly where I was going.

  • Difficulty: 3/5
  • Fitness Level: 3/5
  • Photo Ops: 4/5
  • Adrenaline Rush: 2/5

A crisp breeze blowing into the car carried the amazing smell of moisture on a dirt road. I love that smell, to me that is the smell of adventure. After going around yet another winding bend on the mountain pass, Sanddrif Holiday Resort miraculously appeared out of nowhere like a mirage. We were tired and sticky after our 4 hour trip (it was supposed to be only 3), so we quickly settled into our cozy 3 star self-catering cottages.

If you are running on a bit of a budget or prefer camping, Sanddrif also offers a beautiful shaded camping site as a cheaper alternative. Visitors are advised to book well in advance as the resort fills up rather quickly during weekends and school holidays. Also take note that due to strict conservation rules only a certain amount of day visitors and hikers are allowed on the hiking trails at a time.

At first light the next morning, we set off to hike up the Wolfberg Mountain into the famous “Wolfskeure” or Wolf cracks. But to get to the cracks you first have to make your way all the way up the mountain. The climb is rather steep but I reckon anyone with a decent pair of hiking shoes and an average fitness level would be able to make the climb. Taking young children along might not be such a good idea as some parts of the overall hike can get a bit dangerous, and of course, if they get tired you will have to carry them.

As you make your way up the mountain you will have a spectacular view of the Dwarsrivier and the surrounding Cederberg valley. Nearly at the top of the mountain the little footpath just seems to disappear. I was concerned that we have wandered off course, but right at the foot of the towering cliffs, we found a tiny arrow guiding us towards a crevice in the rock face.

Armed with head torches, we made our way into the crevice and wormed our way upwards to find a small cave chamber right above us. This part of the trail is appropriately named “The Chimney” because of the vertical climb in the tight little tunnel. If you have some issues with tight spaces you should probably turn back because there are quite a few more of these claustrophobic encounters further along the way.

Climbing over and under a couple more rocks in our way, we finally reached the Wolf Cracks. It was even more spectacular than I imagined. High walls of stone on either side gave me the impression that I just stumbled upon the set of a Lord of the Rings movie. The sheer size of the cliffs reminds you just how utterly small and insignificant you really are.

After we fought our way past various rocks blocking our way along the canyon, we finally made it to the top, which was surprisingly flat. From this perspective we could literally see hundreds of other cracks in the mountain, all dissolving into the mountain top. It looked as if though a giant cat took a swipe at the mountain with it’s paw and left it scarred with hundreds of parallel cracks. Be sure to pack a lot of snacks and water because once you sit on one of the cliffs and have a look at the beautiful view beneath you, you might not want to leave for a while.

If hiking up a mountain sounds a bit too hardcore to you, you can always go and relax next to the riverbanks of the beautiful Dwars River. Only a short 30min walk from the Sanddrif campsite you will find the dark brown waters of the notoriously known “Maalgat”. On a hot summers day in the Cederberg mountains, the “Maalgat” is the perfect place to go for a cool down. Here you can sunbathe on the rocks or plunge high off a cliff into the refreshing deep water below.

The Cederberg Mountains is the perfect weekend breakaway since it is only a +/-250km drive from Cape Town. The secludedness and lack of cell phone reception really allow you to take a break from the real world and gain a new appreciation for your surroundings.

Thanks Albert for sharing! - Here to Stay

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