History of the Ceder Rock Reserve
Today Cederberg Chalets epitomises accommodation in the Cederberg, but the road to make the dream a reality is a fascinating adventure all on its own. The reserve known as Cedar Rock is made up of the farms Zuurfontein, Voelfontein, Vaalkloof, Ramkraal, Oukraal, Voetpad and Strassberg. Zuurfontein was purchased by the current owner in 1993 and had Hartman’s mountain zebra, gemsbok, springbok, ostrich, leopard and various smaller game already on it. The Hartman’s were later exchanged with Cape Nature Conservation for Cape mountain zebra.
The remainder of the farm was purchased later in 1997. Many of the farms were home to existing shepherds’ stone cottages, which were in varying states of disrepair. Some of these were renovated, and are now the chalets available for rental. The main farmhouse, built in the late 1800’s, has been restored on the original foundations, as has the old wagon house which now houses the reserve’s 4 x 4s. The old saddlery is now a store, scullery, office and small shop.
When first explored, one packing crate found amongst the ruins had labels confirming that it had arrived in SA via the ship “Birkenhead”. Another stated; “Marmalade – store away from boilers”.
The ‘main road’ leading from Matjiesrivier which passes the central farm house and winds on to the Doring (Thorn) River, used to be the old national road and main wagon supply route between Citrusdal and Calvinia. Wagon wheel ruts can still be found in some of the rocky passes.
Cedar Rock is a founder member and firm supporter of the local Cederberg Conservancy, promoting sensitive local conservancy and tourism. Working with CapeNature Conservation, who are also Cederberg Conservancy members, we are able to assist with many projects. These projects include the study of indigenous proteas and succulents, the re-seeding of local grasses, the Cedar tree nursery, leopard monitoring project and the greater Cederberg biodiversity corridor project.
Cedar Rock strives to maintain the pristine essence of the land and, as such, has replaced the borehole windpumps with solar panels, generating a power supply through solar powered systems in order to ensure a low profile on the skyline. Where possible, internal fences have been removed and, when feasible, the old telephone pole installation will be removed (there is no cellular reception in the Cederberg) and replaced with satellite technology.
Environment, Flora and Wildlife
The Cederberg’s iconic terrain is geologically visible through its typical reddish brown, weathered sandstone formations, as well as its plant cover, which can be described as a drier mountain fynbos. It is largely treeless and is dominated by a variety of shrubs with interesting local names such kakiebos, klaaslouwbos, koringbos, renosterbos, sneeubos, wolwedoring, taaibos and skilpadbessie. Protea species, so characteristic of the Cape Mountains, are not as widespread in the drier Swartruggens region but do occur in some of the higher areas. There are leopards, baboons, lizards, snakes and an abundance of birdlife in the area.
Trails and Views
Panoramic mountain and wilderness views stretch endlessly around each of the chalet areas. The abundance of unspoiled wilderness is apparent through an explosion of fynbos and other indigenous plants and animals. Spectacular rock formations, with some unusual rock shapes, are visible in various areas of the reserve. Guests are welcome to explore on foot and stargazing on a clear night is simply unforgettable!
The Cedar Rock reserve has a small collection of unspoiled, rarely viewed rock art. In general, the Cederberg offers hundreds of rocky overhangs and caves with fine examples of rock art. These paintings vary in age anywhere from 300 to 3000 years old.
The Area and Climate
The mountain range is named after the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar tree, which was widespread in the area. The pride of the Cederberg is the spectacular Snow Protea, which is pure white and grows exclusively in this single area of the world. The majority of the reserve is, however, succulent Karoo. Summers are warm and dry (Nov to March), and can reach temperatures of 39°C. Winters are cold and wet (June to August), with some rains between May and September.