Fantastic Four-Day Tour Around the Cederberg February 2010


Road down to Wuppertal

This trip started on Monday Morning I had to transfer two middle aged German Tourists to Bushmans Kloof, they were staying there four days. I did not want to return to Cape Town so I booked in at the Blommenberg Guest House and used that as a base for my travels.

But first I took the Guests to visit Wuppertal, I pronounced it like a South African not a German!!!. We stopped to have lunch at the little restaurant in the centre of the village. A very worthwhile exercise. We also visited the velskoene shoe factory, very picturesque.

Then off to Bushmans Kloof, after dropping the passengers there I had until Thursday to drive around the Cederberg.

Veltskoene factory (shoe Factory) Wuppertal

On the way back from Bushmans Kloof I turned off back on the road to Wuppertal, only this time I went up the Bidouw Valley. The valley is extremely beautiful during the wild flower season (August till September) but ruggedly beautiful at this time of year. You pass through many farm gates on this road, eventually ending up in front of Enjolife Nature farm and Guest House. I did not go further although the road eventually leads Uitspankraal.

The Engishmans Grave (Lt G.V.W. Clowes) were he was killed

On the way back to the guesthouse I stopped at the Englishman’s grave. There are two different reports as to how the Englishman (Lieutenant Clowes) was killed. The most likely report was that a British Forces patrol were hot on the trail of the rear guards of Commandant G. Bran’s retreating forces. This was on January 30th 1901. On that afternoon a small patrol consisting of Captain Gordon, Lieutenant Clowes and two men went ahead to reconnoitre. The terrain was rugged and tailor made for an ambush or surprise attack. The reconnaissance was pushed too far. The Boers managed to find cover and were hidden from the British patrol they watched them approaching. They however held there fire until Captain Gordon and his men were quite close, and then they opened fire. Captain Gordon was wounded in the foot. Lieutenant Clowes was killed and a man named Clark was severely injured and died later. Colonel de Lisle deployed his men for an attack on the supposed position of the Boars. During the advance the body of Lieutenant Clowes was recovered. The column stopped to bury Lieutenant Clowes at Klipfontain where he fell. The Clowes family were so devastated by the news of their brother’s death that his sister Eileen travelled from England to Clanwilliam to erect a tombstone and plant a tree nearby (which is still growing) She visited his grave each anniversary of his death until 1936to lay a wreath on the grave.

Refreshed the next morning after a true English breakfast at the guest house I set out along the N7 taking the left turnoff down the Nieuwoudt Pass, passed the Forestry camp and the campsite called Algeria.

Nieuwoudt Pass before Algeria

Crossing the Rondegat River I was met by the sight of three young campers swimming naked in the river, they did not want me to take any photographs!!!

Brick paved road Algeria !

Believe it or not the road through Uitkyk Pass, which is extremely scenic, is brick paved for some 7 Kms at a cost of some R30 million so I am told.

The route now took me past Perdekloof with it’s great hiking trail, Kalkoenfontein and Duikerfotein. This is where I stopped to take

Child's grave Perdekloof farm cemetery very sad

photographs of the farm cemetery.It was very poignant to see so many children’s graves from one farm.

Onto Dwarsriver past Lots Wife mountain trail and the observatory just outside Dwarsriver.

A stop at the Cederberg Cellars is well worth a visit and a wine tasting, particularly their Shiraz. Don’t forget the cellars are closed from 12h00 to 14h00. Here I met a young family with a baby who were out for a drive they thought they could drive over the mountains back to Citrusdal unfortunately not, and they had to drive all the way back passed Algeria!

On passed the turnoff to Kromriver passed the Stadsaal Caves, really worth a visit, keys from the Cederberg Oasis.

Cederberg Oasis

The Cederberg Oasis

Eventually I arrived at Matjiesrivier in time for lunch at the Cederberg Oasis and a chat with the owner Gerrit Karsten, Gaerrit is an absolute encyclopaedia of the Cederberg but when he offers you sandwich and chips for lunch, you really do have to be hungry!

After lunch I visited the ruins of the farm Uitsig. The farm also has a cemetery but apparently money was in such short supply although the graves have a slate headstone but there was nothing engraved on them. The Cemetery like the farm is in a sad state of disrepair.

The village of Eslebank

Tombstone with no names on it Uitsig farm

Now we start the second half of the drive to Wuppertal along the four-wheeled drive trail to the isolated little settlement of Eslebank. This is a very self-sufficient community.

Just passed Eselbank on a short turnoff there is a waterfall, unfortunately the times I have driven this route I have never managed to find the turnoff, however now I have it on my Tracks 4 Africa map on my GPS so that will be a definite stopping off place next time I am in the area.

The dirt road off to Voelvlei

On the whole trail up to Wuppertal I only pass one 4X4. It is quite an isolated route.

The road entering Wuppertal is very steep with rather large drop offs on the right hand side.

I had already been to Wuppertal so I did not spend much time there other than to admire the Slingkop a small hill at the entrance to Wuppertal. The route out of Wuppertal goes via the Hoek Se Berg giving a panoramic vista over the Bidouwberg and Tra-Tra mountains.

A pretty easy run back to Clanwilliam up the Pakhouse  Pass, passed the Englishman’s and Louis Liepoldt graves.

I woke up nice and early the next morning as I wanted to explore the northern part of the Cedarburg. I wanted to photograph the Nardouw and Kraaiboos passes.

The roads are not bad and the hairpin parts of the Nardouw pass are tarmac. The vistas on either side of the road are of fields of rooibos tea, not yet red as they have not yet ripened. Half way down the Kraaiboos Pass  is Bushman’s Cave Outdoor Theatre what a fantastic setting for a theatre.

The fantastic Bushman's Cave Outdoor theater

After a refreshment break I set about finding out more of an item referring to SA War Graves marked on the map.

After much searching I found a farm called Papkuilsfontein and the young farmer was keen to show me the graves. How disappointing the graves were completely overgrown with fynbos and had no headstones, just a pile of stones laid out in rectangles. I wonder if the families of the dead soldiers were ever informed of their fate or whereabouts of the graves. Apparently the story was they were members of the British 22nd Battery Imperial Yeomanry captured by the Boar Commando Leader, Manie Maritz, on the banks of the Doring River on 27th July 1901. Maritz was not in the habit of keeping prisoners alive so …………. We know no more, but it seems the single grave that lies apart might have been the British officer whose death was recorded on the same day in the British records. Those describe the unit as the 22nd battery of the Imperial Yeomanry, i.e., the foot soldiers were colonials whose deaths were habitually not recorded by the British.

Another coincidence is that a SAAF Impala mark 1 trainer crashed on the farm in 1976, the pilot ejected and was unhurt.

English soldiers graves Papkuilsfontien

The road back to the Guest House was very relaxing going up the Kraaiboos Pass and down the Nardouw Pass, and following the course of the Oilfants River. What fantastic holiday spots there are on the riverbanks, with hundreds of Egyptian Geese flocking on the water.

Island on the Oilefants River

The next day I had to collect my passengers to take them to Franschhoek via the west coast. We stopped at Lambert’s Bay to visite Bird Island with its hundreds of Gannets and enjoyed some wonderful fish (Bassa) at the harbour restaurant.

Gannets Bird Island Lamberts Bay

Having safely deposited my passengers in Franschhoek I stopped on the way back to Cape Town to enjoy a favorite of mine a piece of cheesecake at Hillcrest Berry Farm, a nice way to round off my trip.

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