After getting the shivers again from too much city time, the Cederberg began calling my name this month. A spot of webtrawling and phoning-about soon offered up a solution to the blues: just two-and-a-bit hours from Cape town is Koningskop, which would match my needs – a good campsite and a trail that wouldn’t damage a shiny new test car.
While camping, I usually avoid human contact like one should avoid cheap Indian food, but on this particular long weekend the site was packed. There are 50 grassy, mostly shaded sites, though, so it wasn’t a problem… and the little kids running around reminded me of the good old days.
There’s a big dam right opposite a restaurant (open only in busy season) where you can do a spot of catch-and-release while the youngsters play in the pool. There’s even a jungle gym and a small shop that sells massive bags of wood and the usual necessities that everyone forgets.
Surrounding the property are two 4×4 routes: the 12km ‘Petoorskrans’, an extreme challenge for modified 4x4s; and ‘Boesmansklip’, a shorter, scenic route that will test the mettle of a standard bakkie, but without breaking it. (7km).
As tempting as it was to go rock-crawling, we opted for the easy route instead. The trail runs north, up a steep ascent between spectacular red sandstone rock formations which enable you to look over lush vineyards far below. As climbs go, it’s not particularly technical, but you’ll need to engage the rear locker at times as the rocky axle-twisters offer a challenge to standard long-wheelbase vehicles like our Triton.
Pictures by Max Breitensteiner.
At the top of the trail, on the halfway mark, visitors are treated to a chance to view original Khoisan San rock art on a cave wall. Nobody knows exactly how old the paintings are, but judging by the elephant and other game depicted, they are estimated to be as old as 28 000 years. The /Xam people inhabited this area for over 500 000 years, but unfortunately left about 200 years ago when European colonialists began farming the area and hunting the wildlife.
The return leg down the circular route is much more thrilling than the ascent. A narrow gap between two towering rocks on a particularly loose, steep descent toward a sheer cliff gets the heart rate up. If your passengers are scared of heights, it’s best that they step out at this point. If you’re the driver, avoid looking down the sheer cliff ahead and concentrate, unless you feel like doing some impromptu skiing.
The whole ‘easy’ route takes about an hour of driving and is a perfect excuse for some morning exploration; and, with care, it won’t be a threat to your vehicle.
After the steep descent, the trail levels out and heads back to the campsite. We opted to spend more time exploring the surroundings, and headed toward Sanddrif vineyard in the heart of the Cederberg. They offer a selection of fantastic wines that are available for tasting, as well as for sale. From Sanddrif, one can take the spectacular gravel road south toward Ceres and back to Cape Town, to complete the journey. This way, you’ll never drive the same road twice on your weekend away.
We found Koningskop to be great for a quick weekend outing, and as a base from which to explore more of the Cederberg’s treasures.
Located between the Olifants River Mountains on the farm Wilgerbosdrif, which is 27km from Citrusdal and 17km from the N7, Koningskop offers grassy camping and two 4×4 tracks to suit every need.
Province: Western Cape
Nearest towns: Citrusdal 25km
Address: Wilgerbosdrif Farm, Paleisheuwel Road, Citrusdal, 7340
Nearest fuel stop: Citrusdal 25km
GPS: S 32°29’54.79” E 18°50’54.83”
From Cape Town, take the N7 (Cape Namibia Route) for approximately 170km until you reach the Cederberg Mountain range. Shortly after Citrusdal, turn left onto an unnamed tar road just after the R365 turn-off, and continue 18.3km to the destination.
Opening times: Open all year round
Terrain: Mountainous, rocks
Distance/s: 7km for the easy route; 12km for the challenging one
Will I get lost?: No, the routes are circular
Recovery facilities: Yes (R500)
Onsite compressor? Yes
On-site pressure washer facilities? Yes
Min/Max number of vehicles: Minimum 2 on difficult trail. No maximum
Time of year All year round, but watch out for the slippery clay surface in the rainy season
Diff-lock: Necessary on the more challenging trail
Minimum clearance: 200mm (300mm on challenging route)
Recovery points: You may need these
Underbody protection: Yes
Softroader friendly? No
What vehicle were we driving? 2017 Mitsubishi Triton 4×4
Watch out for the searing heat in the Cederberg; bring your sunscreen and swimming costume.
Wife and kids: Of course
Picnic kit: Don’t forget it
Dog: Unfortunately, Butch will have to stay at home
Mountain bike: MTB trails are offered for free.
Camping: R120 for adults, and R65 for kids, per night
Chalets: Six cottages are available, ranging in price from R850 per day to R1150 per day. They all accommodate up to four people.
Note: Deposit required: 50% on booking, payable strictly within 7 days. Cancellations within 14 days of occupation not refundable. 15% Admin fee charged on cancellation. The hiring of the cottage for one night during the week carries a levy of R100. The minimum stay during the holiday season is 4 nights. Book-in time is 14h00, book-out time is 10h00.
Tel: 021 100 3758
Mobile: 076 175 2520
Boesmansklip (easy): R200
Petoorskrans (hard): R300