If you want to go hiking or bouldering in the northern Cederberg, look no further than Rocklands and the Kliphuis camp. Here’s what you can expect from the recently re-opened accommodation. By Justin Fox
CapeNature’s Kliphuis comprises a campsite and three self-catering chalets in a picturesque setting on Pakhuis Pass in the Cederberg. This area is known as Rocklands, a landscape of rugged boulders and inviting mountain trails.
A tea-coloured stream runs past the chalets and through the campsite whose 14 stands are set in a grove of pine trees. There are decent ablutions, but no electricity points. It’s a tranquil location in a dramatic kloof whose rock formations are a jumble of higgledy-piggledy sandstone rendered in every shade of ochre, red, brown and black.
The chalets have been newly renovated and are sparkling and comfortable. Each one sleeps up to eight people with a double in one bedroom, pull-out double in the lounge, and two bunk beds in a smaller room (the setup is ideal for four adults and four kids). Each has outside braai facilities and an indoor fireplace; there’s a gas stove, fridge and shower, while the lighting is solar. The new furnishings are simple and cosy with warm winter linen and a posse of attentive staff staying on the property.
There’s good exploring to be had on the ridge behind Kliphuis, where streams have sliced through the rock creating pools and sandy beaches. Across the road is the four-hour Perdefontein Trail that snakes up a steep incline behind the staff cottages, along a plateau past a line of buttresses and back into the kloof on a picturesque circular route that will get your hiking juices flowing. Lovely trails to Heuningvlei and up the Krakadouw Pass are close by.
Mornings at Kliphuis start early, with spurfowl alarm clocks and hadeda wake-up calls. The sun’s rays bend over Charity Peak to suffuse the valley in soft light. Evenings are no less beautiful, as the late sun paints the crags orange, then salmon. Baboons bark their goodnights from the cliffs as your meat sizzles on the braai. Then the night, as black as Marmite, closes in, and preternaturally bright stars try to set fire to the sky. The wind whispers in the pines, the stream chatters over the stones, the dark crags press closer.
On a winter’s night it can snow here. An icy westerly drives you indoors to the fire. Light some candles, open a bottle of Cederberg Shiraz and get stuck into another tough round of Scrabble. Then it’s early to bed, for in the frosted dawn you’ll be up and hiking the crags once again.
Kliphuis is conveniently situated near the top of Pakhuis Pass. Although it feels like you’re in complete wilderness, shops and civilisation are just 20 minutes away by car in Clanwilliam.
The hiking in the area is spectacular. For the more adventurous, there’s world-class bouldering and rock climbing (enquire about permits). Sevilla Rock Art Trail, just 20 minutes drive northeast of Kliphuis, has spectacular San paintings along the banks of the Brandewyn River.
One kilometre west of Kliphuis you’ll find the grave of C Louis Leiplodt, one of the giants of Afrikaans literature. It’s well worth a pilgrimage, particularly in the late afternoon when the rocks around his grave glow red.
Contact Kliphuis on +27 (0)27-482-2403/4 or visit www.capenature.co.za.