Mrs Kaartman and I recently spent most of a week in Heuningvlei, a tiny Cederberg village of just 25 families. We were collecting local place-names for our forthcoming hiking map of the area [more info at http://cederbergmap.blogspot.com]; we so much enjoyed our contact with the friendly and enthusiastic Heuningvleiers and the incredible peace and beauty of the place that we’ve gotta share it.
Don’t let that put you off; the buiteposte are villages from another universe, corners of astonishing beauty that lie like beads on a wire down the eastern boundary of the Cederberg Wilderness, from Heuningvlei in the north to Langkloof in the south. Some years ago Peter Hart and Denis Lejeune, amongst others, established [with commendable foresight, I reckon] the Cederberg Heritage Route, a series of guided, “slack-packing” routes that [at a price of course!] will take you on foot through the mountains to home-stays and guest houses in the middle of the very buitepos villages themselves [see http://www.cedheroute.co.za].
But you don’t need to spend big bucks to enrich your experience of the Cederberg in these lekker little towns. You can easily hike – free – between various overnighting options, or drive – any high-clearance vehicle is fine, you don’t need a V8 or even a four-by-four. Or, for pretty moderate fees, you can be transported between them in bumpy but exhilarating donkey carts [take your own cushions]. You’ll pump some much-valued income into these needy communities, too, but make sure you have cash – no card facilities here, hay. No EFTs.
|Klipspringer on the ‘Noodpad’,|
the donkey track from Pakhuis to Heuningvlei
|Heuningvlei Backpackers Lodge|
Down the track lie the settlements of Ghoeboom and Langkuilshoek [one house/two houses] before Witwater. It’s a high-clearance vehicle road, an easy walk or a bumpy donkey-cart ride. Witwater is a village with maybe twelve families; if you’ve never read M. I. Murray’s “Witwater se Mense” do yourself a literary favour – you won’t regret it, it’s a gem of SA Lit that’s not properly recognized. I blame Tafelberg, who never translated it and let it go out of print ...
About 8km from Heuningvlei you climb over Rooihoogte through really rich and beautiful fynbos, wabooms and tolbos and gorgeous silvery paranomus, to reach Brugkraal, a tiny settlement with pretty good self-catering guest house [details below].
|Self-catering cottage at Brugkraal – the one|
on the right. Note braaiplekkie behind
|Beautiful view – awful road; the track past Agterstevlei|
|Pools in Sas se Kloof|
|The Kleinvlei campsite: in the bottom-right corner of the|
pic on the left; Right: the Kleinvlei guesthouse
From Kleinvlei it’s a longish drive to Eselbank, starting with the bad track back all the way to Brugkraal. If you take this option you should visit Heiveldt and Kouberg before plunging down the steep pass into Wupperthal.
|Kouberg settlement, with Wupperthal valley behind|
|Accomadation sign at Eselbank|
|The extraordinary 25-metre high Eselbank Ereboog;|
ask in the village for a guide to this and the Falls
You could continue from Eselbank to Langkloof, even further south, where there is an overnight home-stay, but I don’t have the details, unfortunately.
|The track south out of Eselbank; heading for Matjiesrivier|
Backpackers, donkey cart rides, trail guides: phone Dalene van der Westhuizen at 027 492 3070
Self-catering guest house: phone Evert Manuel at 027 492 3223
Tent camping and self-catering guest house, donkey cart rides and hiking tours: phone Mary Anne at 027 492 3025
Eselbank: see pic! – self-catering or B&B cottage, phone 021 931 4890
Bly lekker, besoek gerus, keep warm.
Kaartman 9 June 2012