THE CEDARBERG WILDERNESS AREA
The rugged and beautiful mountain range, whose loftiest peak is the Sneeuberg (2028 m/6654 ft), takes its name from the rare and at one time almost extinct Clanwilliam cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis). These lovely trees suffered grievously from the axe and from uncontrolled burning during the early years of white settlement, but a few hardy specimens managed to cling to life on the upper slopes and these, now strictly protected, will hopefully prove to be the nucleus of new generations.
Another, even rarer plant is the pure-white snow protea (Protea cryophila), which lives precariously above the Cedarberg's snow line and occurs nowhere else in the world. For the rest, there's the rocket pincushion, the large red disa (Disa uniflora) and a myriad other endemic plants varying from spring annuals to fynbos and handsome indigenous forest species.
The Cedarberg is a vast controlled area of stark and strangely eroded rock formations, of waterfalls, crystal streams and clear pools, of magnificent viewsites, of caverns, overhangs, peaks and ravines. It has 254 km (158 miles) of unmarked but well-defined footpaths, and it attracts hikers and backpackers, climbers, campers, photographers and nature-lovers from afar. Rock features of special interest include the 20-m-high (66 ft) pillar named the Maltese Cross; the Wolfberg Arch and the 30 m (98 ft) cleft known as the Wolfberg Cracks; the Tafelberg and its Spout. Wildlife in the area is not prolific; some 30 mammal species are present, among them klipspringer, grey rhebok, steenbok, grysbok, wild cat, caracal, bat-eared fox and baboon. Sunbirds and orangecrested sugarbirds and a number of fine raptors - black eagle, jackal buzzard, rock kestrel - can be seen.