Cederberg Wilderness Area was recently proclaimed one of eight World Heritage Sites within the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. The high altitude mountain peaks provide not only stunning scenery and rock formations, but also unusual sub alpine habitats. This mountainous nature reserve in South Africa hosts indigenous Fynbos, succulent Karoo plants and endemic freshwater fish.
The Cederberg was proclaimed a wilderness area in 1973 and has grown into a popular destination for hardy hikers and mountaineers. The fully inclusive
Cape Heritage Route hiking trails have been introduced to encourage more access for a broader range of hiking enthusiasts. These “slack packing” routes are part of a community project and are guided by local residents who have a wealth of knowledge of the Cederberg Wilderness Area.
The Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve is situated on the drier eastern boundary of the Cederberg Mountains and is managed as part of the greater Cederberg conservation area. Highlights of this area include the famous Stadsaal rock formations and some excellent examples of bushmen paintings. This rugged reserve was obtained in 1995 with the assistance of the World Wide Fund for Nature (SA).
The original inhabitants of the Cederberg area were the hunter-gatherers and the Khoi. Evidence of the occupation by the Khoi may be seen in the rock art of the area. These rock paintings record the social and spiritual history of the Later Stone Age people. These paintings vary in age between 300 and 6 000 years and are considered to be National Monuments.
Vegetation in the Cederberg Wilderness Area is predominantly mountain Fynbos. The endemic Snow Protea is probably the most attractive plant on the highest peaks - it is very rare and only found at a few sites. The Clanwilliam Cedar grows in the “cedar zone” against cliffs and overhangs at more than 1 000 metre above sea level.
The Oliphant’s River system, part of which runs through the Cederberg, has a wealth of endemic fish species - the richest variety south of the Zambezi River. Some of these fish species are highly endangered and not found anywhere else. Bird watchers can view more than 100 bird species at this nature reserve in South Africa, such as Rock Kestrel and Jackal Buzzard.