Cederberg Wilderness Area History and Wildlife

A view of the cave art in the Cederberg Wilderness Area.

Rich in historical San art, the Cederberg Wilderness Area offers spectacular scenery, a wide diversity of plant species and an extensive network of hiking trails and is the ideal location to explore for all nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

See Hundreds of Bushmen Paintings

Home to hundreds of San rock paintings, the Cederberg Wilderness Area is predominantly made up of the Cederberg Mountain range and is situated just 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Cape Town off the N7. The highest peak in the range is the Sneeuberg that rises to a height of 2 027 metres above sea level. The nature reserve is made up of a number of different sectors, the largest sector is the Cederberg sector that covers over 71 000 hectares while the second largest sector is the Matjiesriver sector at 12 000 hectares.

Of the several hundred rock paintings found within the mountains in the area, only a few are well-known and easily accessible and a number of the major sites lie on private land or in the greater conservation area. Over 125 sites are situated in the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve area and visitors staying at the 5 star luxury private lodge and wellness retreat can take guided tours to the sites to learn about their stories.

The area takes its name from the large stands of indigenous cedar trees that were found in the abundance on the slopes within the reserve and surrounding area. Unfortunately these beautiful trees were harvested to the brink of extinction with over 7 250 trees being felled in 1879 alone to be used as telephone poles between Piketberg and Calvinia. Some of the trees are said to have been over 36 feet wide. Thankfully the area was proclaimed a nature reserve in 1973 and today it is considered a World Heritage Site as it is part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom.

Wildlife of the Cederberg Wilderness Area

The nature reserve is home to 69 different species of mammals including four species of small antelope; Klipspringer, Grey Rhebok and Common Duiker and Cape Grysbok. The area is well-known as a stronghold for Leopards, and while they are seldom seen their calls are regularly heard and their tracks and droppings are often found.

The Cederberg Wilderness Area is not considered a particularly good bird-watching destination, however; there are a number of interesting species to look out for including Black Harriers, Cape Eagle-Owls and Cape Rockjumpers and Cinnamon-breasted Warblers.

Hikers may occasionally come across one of the 17 different species of snake found within the reserve, however these occasional are infrequent and the most regularly seen of the snakes is the Puff Adder and occasionally the Cape Cobra.

Flora of the Cederberg Wilderness Area

The vegetation found on the Cederberg range consists of two major fynbos types, namely Olifants sandstone fynbos which is found along the west-facing slopes and Cederberg sandstone fynbos which is found on the eastern slopes. The lower slopes have a mixture of Proteas and Restios, especially in the areas where there is deeper sand cover. There are over 1 000 plant species all in all within the reserve, all combining to create a beautiful display of truly South African vegetation.

South Africa Nature Reserves : Game Reserves and National Parks
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