January 3rd we left Hout Bay with the goal of eventually getting to Cederberg, according to our GPS (great investment to have the SA map loaded) a 9+ hour drive. along the way our first stop (about 30 min outside of Cape Town) was at the Bloubergstrand (beach) to watch kite surfers. We spoke with one very pleasant young man from England who explained how the harnesses work and basically how the surfer wears a kite. Watching these kite surfers not only ride across the water but also ride the waves and gaining lift off, performing acrobatics was really exciting. Something I’d definitely like to try!
About two hours into our trip we saw a sign for a Fossil Park, Joe wanted to see what it was while Vanessa and I were groaning about seeing "dead bones". We had visions of heading in the opposite direction to the beach at Langebaan. Fossils won and off we went due East, really only 10 km off route. It was GREAT!! We drove to an active dig site with a guide who explained the whole set up. We saw all kinds of fossils from giant giraffes, elephants, and other ancient creatures.
Then we headed back west to Langebaan where we walked on the beach, with again a lot of kite surfers and a few wind surfers. We had lunch at the fossil park which was yummy, grilled cheese on crunchy whole grain bread (probably soaked in butter made the difference). Along the beach we saw several crowded restaurants and decided to stop for a drink before continuing down the road. Unfortunately there weren’t any seats outside but we got an inside table by a very large, open window. Watching them serve crayfish which are in season here from Dec – Mar made our mouths water. The waiter was able to move us outside and we ordered sushi and a platter of seafood (very early dinner).
It was starting to get late after all this so we took off with the intent of driving for about an hour (GPS still telling us we have about 4+ hours to go including unpaved roads). Within the hour we arrived in Citrusdal, on the map it looked very close to Cederberg (which is a mountain range with unique rock formations). Driving into the town we didn’t see anything that looked like suitable accomodations (there is a lot of crime in the large cities but once we gotten away from them we’ve never felt threatened) but in Citrusdal when we stopped at a stop sign several people approached our car to beg (we think, we could understand but we felt uncomfortable). so we backtracked about 10 km and were lucky to find a wonderful B&B called Hebron run by an english couple Carol & Steve. Beautiful setting overlooking the mountains, huge swimming pool and rooms for us. In the morning we weren’t disappointed, the breakfast was scrumptous – you get muesli and yoghurt followed by a 2nd course of eggs and toast everywhere, very hearty breakfasts! Steve’s presentation and mixture of additional fruits was excellent. We also arranged for him to provide us dinner for that evening which his wife had offered when we checked in, that way we wouldn’t have to find a restaurant.
So off we went to Cederberg, 25 km from Citrusdal we turned onto the road which quickly became unpaved but we could still go about 60 km. Driving for about 1:15 min we got to the ranger hut to purchase our tickets to see the Rock Paintings and Caves. they gave us a code for the lock on the gate. it took a little over 30 min to get to the gate, now the road was a bit bumpier and we had to drive about 40km, all the while the temperature was climbing (in Hout Bay it had been around 26) from 28 in the morning to now around 32 (we heard later it was 43 in the next town down out of the mountains), being at elevation kept a little cooler.
Coming to the site where we saw 1000 year old Rock Painting there were a few other people speaking Africaans, one gentleman switched to english for us (we thought at first he was a tour guide but just a friendly chap) and explained the site history and what the painting meant. We ended up taking a very friendly German/South African couple with us since they were hiking from a nearby farm and now it was around 36 to the cave location – about a 10 min drive. it’s hard to describe what we saw and will upload pictures when we return. the area isn’t volcanic, there used to be ocean then rivers and it’s amazing what the water did to the rocks.
looking at the very detailed map we had purchased (very worth the $10 – 80 Rand investment) we saw a hike along the river. originally we wanted to hike in to see some of the rock formations like the arch but it was 7 hrs roundtrip and way too hot. So off to another ranger station to purchase another pass, while we waited for the office to reopen (closed from 12:30 to 2 for lunch – very european in that way here, banks close at 3:30 and only opened Mon – Fri although grocery stores are opened everyday and longer hours) we ate our picnic lunch of cheese, crackers, peanut butter and fruit.
the Maargat is an easy flowing river (remember it’s the height of summer here). we walked along the hills and finally came down to the river where a few other people we wading which we also did. everyone is very chatty here and we found out they had heard about an area along the river where you could jump in but hadn’t found it. no wonder, they were only in swimsuits and drinking beers, doubt they tried too hard!! so off we went and reward!!! we came to a very large pool surrounded by high rock formations. off course we didn’t have swimsuits but thank gawd for quick drying hiking pants and shirts. off came as much as we could unload, and into the water we jumped. Ah, it was so refreshing. while floating around this wonderful, peaceful place some young men climbed a very high outcrop and after much contemplation, finally braved the jump. Vanessa and i decided to try it, it was really 2 stories high. once we were up there we both had shaky knees and had decided it had to be easier to jump in than trying to climb back down again. I now truly admire high divers, how do they do all those flips and turns in such a short time and not get hurt more often. at that height the water is so hard. the jump made an already great day extremely exciting. so off we went to Window Rocks and more formations.
We made it back to Hebron just in time for a swim before dinner. —– more later