We were up quite early on Saturday morning … a promise of hot and sunny weather was laying ahead of us and we were excited to see more of the Cederberg mountains.
With our coffee in hand, we wandered over to the beautiful horses of the owners of Rondegat.
The horses were not shy at all and came straight towards us when we approached them. We had plenty of opportunities to take some pictures and admire their beauty.
By now the sun was out and we enjoyed our breakfast and coffee on the front porch of the cottage – again, having a lovely view over the floodplain in front of us.
Dressed in shorts and t-shirts, we took our little picnic basket and got in the car to see more of the beauty of the Cederberg mountains. Our first stop was at the grave of a famous South African poet – C. Louis Leipoldt.
Grave of C. Louis Leipoldt
Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt (normally referred to as C. Louis Leipoldt) was a very well-known South African poet, dramatist, medical doctor, reporter and food expert … that’s quite a CV! He was one of the leading figures in the poetry of the Second Afrikaans Movement.
During my high school years, we studied some of his poetry in my home language, Afrikaans. His father was a preacher of the Dutch Reformed Church in Clanwilliam and his grandfather the founder of Wupperthal (which we will also visit later in this post). Despite his chosen career as a doctor, he enjoyed spending time cooking and walking between the rock formations and plants of the Cederberg.
We were on the lookout for the famous rock formation of the ‘Soldaatkop’ (soldier’s head), but could not find it between all the magnificent rocks … we decided to try again on our return later that afternoon.
After driving over the beautiful Pakhuis Pass, our next stop came in the form of a beautiful farm with a unique restaurant.
Traveller’s Rest is 34km from Clanwilliam and according to their website, the name originated from passing travellers who used to span out here next to the river to give water to their horses and oxen, as well as to rest before tackling the very steep Pakhuis Pass (the very same one we just driven).
Today, Traveller’s Rest is a beautiful place with a restaurant, gift shop and delightful self-catering cottages. This is the perfect place to stay if you would like to see some rock art paintings, as well as an array of indigenous plant species and birds.
We took a stroll through the restaurant area – it is surrounded by so many different plants and we loved the little garden consisting of mostly aloe plants.
It was time to enjoy a cup of their very well-known Rooibos tea (meaning ‘red bush’). It grows in this area and the leaves are used to make a delicious (and healthy) herbal tea!
We read earlier in our favourite outdoor magazine (‘Weg’) that the owner of Traveller’s Rest walked the famous Camino (a pilgrimage in Spain) twice. As we also hiked the Camino twice (2017 & 2018), we were thrilled to see some Camino way markers on the walls of the restaurant. Unfortunately, the owner wasn’t there, but her daughter told us how much her mom loved her experience on the Camino … we can totally understand that!
After we enjoyed our Rooibos tea, I bought a box of the local Wild Rooibos tea to drink when we’re back home again (and to remember our wonderful time here in the Cederberg).
The small Moravian settlement of Wupperthal was now on our radar and the tarred road turned into gravel. On the way, were some stunning passes with amazing views into the valleys.
This beautiful little place has been a Moravian mission station since 1865 (although its origins are actually Rhenish). The name Wupperthal derives from the Wupper River in Germany, from where two Rhineland missionaries arrived in the Cape in 1829 to spread the Word among the indigenous people. These two missionaries were Theobald von Wurmb and Johan Gottlieb Leipoldt (the grandfather of C. Louis Leipoldt, who’s grave we’ve visited earlier).
On 30 December 2018 a devastating fire raged through Wupperthal and left almost 200 people homeless. Even some of the historic buildings were affected. This was of course a heavy blow for the town and its people, as some of them completely live from tourism.
After many meetings with different stakeholders, a restoration programme was started in March 2019. Since then, the following buildings were beautifully restored: The Church building and Parsonage, Creche (Educare Centre), Church Hall, Post Office, Mission Store and Mission House, Blacksmith Shop, Leipoldt House and Guest House.
Unfortunately, families who were affected in this fire, are still housed in temporary homes which were built by the government. We trust they will soon be able to stay in their own (newly built) homes again, and although they received kind and generous donations, it will take some time to re-built all of the houses for these families.
It was now time to turn back to Rondegat, but first we needed to find that evasive Soldaatkop (‘soldier’s head’) rock formation.
When we turned back on the tarred road, we saw a grave next to the road and stopped to have a look.
In the second Boer War, Lieutenant Graham Vinicombe Winchester Clowes was killed during a scouting mission in 1901. The Celtic cross was erected by his mother who travelled all the way from England.
We kept a close eye to the left side of the road, because we knew the Soldaatkop (‘soldier’s head’) must be somewhere between all these rock formations. At some point, we saw a hidden gravel road leading away from the main road and decided to take that … and then …
Soldaatkop (‘soldier’s head’):
Some of our friends say the image reminds them a bit of Donald Trump … but as this was formed (and identified) long before Mr Trump’s time, I will stand by the name of Soldaatkop!
We spent some time here – walking between the beautiful rock formations and just enjoyed the smell and peaceful sounds of nature. It was also a good time to finish off the last sandwiches in our picnic basket before we returned back to our cottage.
Back at Rondegat, we made coffee and then took a few apples to give to the horses – I think they liked this little treat!
It was such a great day out in the Cederberg mountains. We enjoyed the incredible beauty of nature, chatting with the locals and seeing Wupperthal slowly but surely recovering to its former glory … and of course, finding the elusive Soldaatkop!
The only thing that was left for the day, was to witness another beautiful sunset and to get our fire started to enjoy an evening under the stars.
Tomorrow we will take a walk in the floodplain and enjoy the last day of our weekend.
Rondegat Weekend (Day 3) will follow here