Cruising Around Cape Town

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August 24th 2015
Published: August 24th 2015
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Early on Saturday morning, I packed up my car, topped up the tank and hit the road. My destination: the Cederberg. I’d heard wonderful things about the fantastic landscape, the interesting plant life and the starry night skies - and as a keen amateur photographer, I’m always excited to visit new places and document my experiences. I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on great travel photography and was very keen to put some of these ideas into practice.

My first stop was 160km north of Cape Town in Citrusdal, a quaint town in the Olifants River Valley. Although the town itself is small, the surrounding area is absolutely stunning – especially at this time of year, as August-September is wildflower season and the colours are spectacular. I stopped for a few hours at The Baths, a natural hot-springs resort where you can relax in crystal clear water that emerges from the mountains at a temperature of 43 degrees celsius. A few hours in the baths costs just ZAR50 for a midweek visit, or ZAR90 at weekends – just be sure to call ahead to book.

Although there are excellent camping, caravan and chalet facilities available at The Baths, I decided to drive deeper into the Cederberg for the night and headed on towards the area of Algeria where I would stay for the next couple of nights.

From my base near Algeria, I rose early the next morning to explore. After purchasing the relevant permits for the day (available at Algeria Campsite or Cederberg Winery), I set off for the Stadsaal Caves. It was an absolutely stunning drive over a winding mountain pass, and I stopped along the way to admire the views down into the valley and let troops of baboons cross the road.

The Stadsaal Caves are amazing. There are two sites to visit - both are accessible by car and suitable for children or those who aren’t keen on long hikes. The series of connected caves are fun to explore and, if you’re lucky, you may encounter some of the cute local residents – the Rock Dassies – who live amongst the rocks. The scenery is incredible - as far as the eye can see there are towering rock formations in shades of red and orange impossibly stacked upon each other, and it’s easy to see why this prehistoric looking landscape was chosen as the location to film ‘One Million Years B.C.’

The highlight for me was the San rock paintings on display – these are thought to be around 1000 years old and are in excellent condition. The ochre paintings depict human figures wrapped in cloaks and a herd of elephants nearby. There are no tools in the painting, so it doesn’t appear to be a hunting scene – but rather shows a Shamanic trance or hallucination.

After exploring the caves, I headed off on a slow drive back to my campsite. I spent a lot of time photographing the stunning array of wildflowers in bloom along the roadside – next to the dusty red African soil, the bright whites, pinks and yellows seemed incredibly vivid. Back at my campsite, I enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a glass of wine in hand, before settling down by the campfire for a night under the stars.


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