An Adventurer’s guide to the Witzenberg

2015-06-23 10:12 - Louzel Lombard
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When it’s comes to adventure destinations, a weekend in the Witzenberg is about as good as it gets. In this valley, where snow-capped mountains set the backdrop for the better part of winter, you’ll find a range of activities to keep your blood pumping in the cold season. 

But what especially makes the Witzenberg’s adventure offering even more appealing, it that it covers both fierce adrenaline-fueled fun and laid-back leisurely activities. 

Where: The Witzenberg Valley is situated on the Route 62. It’s encapsulates the towns of Tulbagh, Wolseley and Ceres - and is an hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town. 

Here's what avid adventurers can get up to in this snowy part of SA: 

IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Horse Riding

Probably one of the best ways to come into contact with the beautiful, natural surroundings in the area, as is hiking or mountain biking. But what particularly makes this activity splendid is the fact that whole families or small groups of friends can participate, regardless of their fitness level or horse riding expertise. 

Where to book: Horse About Trails between Tulbagh and Wolseley 

These guys offer daily horse riding excursions right throughout the year, as well as stunning monthly Moonlit Horse Riding Trails during the summer months. 

Reservations are required.

A fun addition to the Horse About trails would be to overnight at their ‘Tipi Camp’. 


Where to book: 
Tulbagh Horse Trails in Tulbagh 

These guys offer scenic one- and two-hour-long horse riding trails on ‘Vrolikheid fruit farm in the Winterhoek Mountains. 

Reservations are required. 


Ceres Zipsliding

There are many zipsliding offerings in South Africa, but I can personally vouch that the one in Ceres has been the most thrilling to date…

The slides aren’t the highest in the country, nor are they the longest, but they’re certainly some of the steepest – which makes for ultra fast ziplining action over the rocky Ceres mountain slopes. 

Traveller24 team member @louzellombard taking on the #CeresZiplines #Witzenberg #Ceres wheeeee.....

A video posted by Traveller24_SA (@traveller24_sa) on




Hiking
Murludi – Tulbagh 
What: Two route hike, (4km & 10km) with fynbos & birdlife  
Cost: R25 per person.
Permits available at the Tourism Office Tulbagh.

Waterval – Tulbagh
What: Short and long walks to the Tulbagh waterfall, where you can swim in the rock pools 
Cost: R5 per person
Permits available at the Tourism Office Tulbagh

Silwerfontein – Gouda area 
What: A one or two day hike with bird & wildlife, spring flowers & fynbos (accommodation can be included) 
Contact Silwerfontein for more information and prices. 

Skurweberg – Ceres 
What: The hiking trail starts and end on a farm 4km north-west of Prince Alfred's Hamlet in the Skurweberg Mountains. There are 2 routes: One of ±2 hours and one of ±4 hours. 
Route Map and Trail description available at the Ceres Tourism Office

The hiking trails in the area also have some of the most challenging rock-climbing boulders around, so pack your gear! 

Me on one of my favorite problems. #bouldering #ceres #witzenberg #climbing

A photo posted by ClementdeBruin (@clementdebruin) on




Mountain biking trails
There are four major routes, as stipulated by the Tulbagh Mountain Biking Club. Apart from these, however, there are many more routes in the Witzenberg area. 

Schalkenbosch – 17km
Steinthal – 14km (500 elevation)
Steinthal – Schalkenbosch – 23km (1.4km elevation)
Saronsberg – TJ – Theuniskraal – Welbedacht – 28km (700 elevation)

Bicycle hire available from Vindoux & Tulbagh Hotel. Weekend permits (R40) and maps can be collected in Tulbagh at the Shell Garage, the Cape Dutch Quarters and Tulbagh Tourism Office.

Crushing the #bonetrail at #schalkenbosch #tulbagh

A photo posted by Hanco Binneman (@hankeeb) on



Birdwatching

The best spots for spotting endemic birds are located on the scenic passes, and close to the rivers and dams in the area. Look out for various species of sunbirds, plenty of buzzards and various species of predatory birds such as kites, falcons and eagles. For a full list of the birdlife in the area, visit Ceres Birding.  


Gydo Pass
- outside Ceres

Road to Witzenberg Valley - This road turns off on top of the Gydo Pass

Bergsig Estate - they offer a ±4.5km guided or unguided trail where the birds of the area can be spotted. 

Gydo Pass #gydopass #ceres #capetown #westerncape #southafrica #mountainpasses

A photo posted by Jon Hallé (@jonhalle1) on




Surrounding Game Parks and Nature Reserves in the Witzenberg Area

The reserves and protected areas around the three Witzenberg towns creates the valley in which they lay. These are also the high mountain peaks that are snow-topped in winter. 

Ceres Mountain Fynbos Nature Reserve
Waterval Nature Reserve
Wittebrug Nature Reserve 
Winterhoek Mountain Catchment Area 
Grootwintershoek Wilderness Area 
Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve 


MAP





Drives

4x4 routes
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve
What: This one is for the real off-road petrolheads. The route(s) include overnight stays and some serious off-road scrambling. 
You can view a full map of the 4x4 routes on the Kagga Kamma Reserve here

Finally on the road! #nowhereherewecome #kaggakamma

A photo posted by Guide/ B&B Kapstaden (@cape_adventures) on



Scenic Drives, as described by Ceres' tourism website

Bainskloof Pass 
Built in 1853 by Andrew Geddes Bain, this pass remains largely as it was when it was first built and gives a fascinating insight into pioneer travel. The pass, with it’s highest point at 595m, travels over the Limietberg Mountains between Wellington and the Witzenberg Valley. 

Gydo Pass 
The northern entrance to Ceres from Citrusdal offers panoramic views of the Warm and Koue Bokkeveld. 

Michell’s Pass 
The southern entrance to Ceres is the first pass built by Andrew Geddes Bain and was completed in 1848. Parts of the old pass are still visible at certain points, and the Toll House is now a charming restaurant. This was the equivalent of the N1 in the heady days of the diamond rush – now known as the Forgotten Highway. 

Nuwekloof Pass 
This main route (R 44/46) linking the valley to the Cape was developed as the original Oudekloof Pass became more difficult to navigate. By the 1760s this pass superseded the original pass. The new road through the Nuwekloof pass was opened in 1968, but the old road is still visible from the new road (and is walkable).

Warm Bokkeveld 
Enclose Ceres and Prince Alfred’s Hamlet and is the centre of one of the richest agricultural regions of the Western Cape.

Bo-Swaarmoed  
A distinctive farming area nestled at the foot of  the Matroosberg Mountains, famous for its cherry picking in season, snow during winter, proteas, and breathtaking panoramic views of the Ceres valley.

#theview yesterday @visualpridephoto ???? #bainskloofpass #wellington #westerncape #theadventurecontinues

A photo posted by Giovasha Moodley (@giovasha_m) on



ALSO READ: 
SA's most extreme mountain passes


ON THE BREE RIVER (OR BREEDE RIVER)

The Breë Rivier, which mouths in Witsand near Swellendam, originates from the Skurweberg mountain range close to Ceres and creates a wide array of agricultural opportunities and – you guessed it – ADVENTURE! 


Fishing


By appointment only. Fishing in the Bree River is usually done at various accommodation spots on the river banks. If you’re not booking to stay at these places, be sure to contact the owner beforehand, else you’ll be trespassing. 

The River Siding at Oustasie farm - outside Ceres

Edenvue Chalets - Ceres

Silwerfontein/Voelvlei - Gouda 

Artois – Wolseley 

Mooiplaas Accommodation – Wolseley 

Fraaigelegen – between Tulbagh & Wolseley 

River Edge Accommodation – Wolseley 




River Rafting and Canoeing
The Breë River might not be the best option in winter, but extreme water-lovers will no-doubt take on the icy waters in winter nonetheless. 

Note that the these are accommodation options, and the river rafting and canoeing activities are only available to guests of the farms. 

Wild Olive Farm - Wolseley 

River Edge Accommodation – Wolseley 

Mooiplaas Accommodation – Wolseley



The Witzerberg Wine Route


For those looking for a different kind of adventure altogether, there's always WINE. 

Waverley Hills– Wolseley 
What: One of the best organic producing wine estates in the country. Their 2011 Shiraz Mourvédre Viognier is something out of this world.
When: Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 16:00; Sunday 11:00 – 15:00; Closed on New Years Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas & Boxing Day. Cellar tours by appointment only. Groups of 10 or more are advised to book a tasting beforehand via email

#waverleyhills #ceres

A photo posted by ? (@chloe_2604) on



Rijk’s Private Cellar– Tulbagh 
What: They call the owner, Pierre Rijk, the ‘Pope of Pinotage’, which gives a correct indication of the internationally acclaimed quality of this proudly South Africa cultivar. 
When: Monday – Friday 10:00 – 16:00; Saturday 10:00 – 14:00; Cellar tours by appointment only.


Twee Jonge Gezellen – House of Krone – Tulbagh
What: Champagne tasting at its best. End off your wine route experience on this celebratory note. 
When: The Tasting Room is open Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 16:00 and on Saturdays from 10:00 to 14:00. Cellar tours are at 11:00, Monday to Saturday, or by appointment.
We are closed on Sunday and on Public Holidays.


Saronsberg– Tulbagh 
What: This is where the Sheikh of Shiraz grow some of the world's best. The artworks exhibited on the farm is also something to see, and make for a sophisticated wine tasting experience right at the foot of the Winterhoek Mountains. 

Sipping Shiraz at Saronsberg. #Saronsberg #shiraz #wine #Tulbagh #wineweekend

A photo posted by Tanita (@a_friday_flower) on



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