RONDEGAT WEEKEND (Day 2)


June 2021

We’ve got 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.

The early morning sun is kissing the mountains in the distance

With our coffee in hand, we’ve 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’ve approached them. We had plenty of opportunities to take some pictures and admire their beauty.

By now the sun was out and we’ve enjoyed our breakfast and coffee on the front porch of the cottage – having again a lovely view over the floodplain in front of us.

The floodplain was now almost in full sun

Dressed in shorts and t-shirts, we’ve taken 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

Entrance to the grave of C. Louis Leipoldt
C. Louis Leipoldt … 28 December 1880 – 12 April 1947 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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’ve studied a lot 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.

Taking a walk amongst a few of the huge sandstone rocks towards Leipoldt’s grave
The simple grave of C. Louis Leipoldt in a little cave

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’ve decided to try again on our return later that afternoon.

Traveller’s Rest:

After driving over the beautiful Pakhuis Pass, our next stop came in the form of a beautiful farm with a unique restaurant.

The restaurant was built from local stone

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 we’ve just driven over.

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.

The Brandewyn River where weary travellers of years ago rested

We’ve taken a walk around the restaurant area – it is surrounded by so many different plants and we’ve loved the little garden consisting of mostly aloe plants.

Birds’ nests are hanging like Christmas decorations on a tree at Traveller’s Rest

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!

The restaurant area at Traveller’s Rest

We’ve read in our favourite outdoor magazine (‘Weg’) that the owner of Traveller’s Rest walked the famous Camino (a pilgrimage in Spain) twice. As we’ve also hiked the Camino twice in 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!

Camino way marker on the wall of the restaurant

After we’ve enjoyed our Rooibos tea, we’ve 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).

One last stroll before it’s time to say goodbye to Traveller’s Rest

The small Moravian settlement of Wupperthal was now on our radar and the tarred road turned into gravel. We’ve driven along stunning passes with amazing views into the valleys.

A view from the summit of the Uitkyk Pass

Wupperthal:

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).

The Moravian settlement of Wupperthal

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.

Leipoldt House. This building was restored and is the oldest building in Wupperthal. The house was probably built around 1800 and was used as the living quarters of the first missionaries at Wupperthal
Two and a haf years later, one can still see the evidence of the fire, as the bark of the trees appears black
More restored buildings (the Post Office is far right)

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’ve 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.

Englishman’s Grave:

When we’ve turned back on the tarred road, we’ve seen a grave next to the road and stopped to have a look.

An Englishman’s grave in the middle of the Cederberg mountains

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.

The grave of Lieutenant Clowes
Fittingly, there were also these beautiful wild flowers near the grave

We’ve 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’ve seen a hidden gravel road leading away from the main road and decided to take that … and then …

Soldaatkop (‘soldier’s head’):

The hidden gravel road … leading to our sight of the day
There it is … Soldaatkop (‘soldier’s head’) … hidden between other rock formations
As soon as one walks closer to the rock formation, the image changes a bit and is not that clear anymore
But then, as we’ve stood almost in front of the rock, we could clearly see the image of the 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’ve 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.

A last look at the rock formations of the Cederberg mountains

Back at Rondegat, we’ve made some coffee and then took a few apples to give to the horses – I think they’ve liked this little treat!

The horses enjoyed the apples we’ve brought from town

It was such a great day out in the Cederberg mountains. We’ve 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

Categories: South African Break Aways

28 comments

  1. I am so jealous of all the fun you guys have! I just love the photos & history you share, Corna. The tree with all the birds nests is like nothing I’ve seen! And, yeah, I wouldn’t curse the Soldier’s Head rock by referring to it as Donald Trump! Have a lovely weekend my friend! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah Lisa, the mountains are just so beautiful – we love exploring all these places! We do see these trees with birds’ nests in many places here in South Africa … but I’m always so excited to see one! Thanks, I also didn’t think the Soldier’s Head should change to ‘Donald’s Head’ (I will take your approval 😄). Have a great weekend too 💌.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The restored buildings in Wupperthal look beautiful and it’s so nice to learn about the place as I hadn’t come across it before. Marion

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such beautiful places, it fills me with peace just looking at these photos. The Soldier’s Head… once you mentioned some friends compared it to Trump, I couldn’t see anyone else, unfortunately..😅 Thank you for sharing, I’m learning so much about South Africa thanks to your posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nic, you’re so right about the peace that fills you in these mountains … that is my exact experience every time we walk or drive here ☺️. And yes, I’m afraid the appearance of the Soldier’s Head will never be the same 👀👀. I’m glad you’re enjoying our South Africa posts – thank you so much for reading and your lovely comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I have been hiking in the Cederberg mountains. A very special place.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Cederberg mountains looks like such a scenic area. Ha, I can totally see the resemblance of Donald Trump in the soldier’s head rock formation! That gave me a good laugh. What better way to end the day than by watching the sunset by the campfire!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, those mountains are just a huge favourite with us … but I’m afraid, the Soldier’s Head will never be the same for me again 😜. Isn’t that true … the best way of ending a day – around a fire while watching the sunset! Hmm, I can go back right now!! Thanks for reading (and enjoy your week ahead!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful place to stay, especially in the early morning light! And a lovely day out in the mountains too : I must say I can see the resemblance between the Soldaatkop and Donald Trump 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is lovely and so interesting. I got some Rooibos tea and didn’t care for it although I like most herb teas. I am sure if I had the right kind I would! Love the horses, of course, and all the history. And yes, I thought the head was a bit Trumpish even before I read your remarks! Thanks for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I grew up with Rooibos tea (my mom gave that to me when I was still a baby) and to this day I love to have a cup before I go to bed. There are so many variaties of Rooibos, but I like the plain (wild) Rooibos tea – I taste nature in it (or maybe it’s just my imagination 😁). Oh, I hope the Cederberg Wilderness committee is not reading our blog … they will probably feel obliged to change the name of the ‘Soldier’s head’ 😜.
      Thanks for reading and your lovely comments. Corna

      Like

  8. It’s so beautiful. We drove through the area when I was about 12, and stopped at Traveller’s Rest ourselves so thank you for bringing the memories back. And oh my goodness, I can’t stop laughing – it’s SO Trump!!!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah Hannah, I’m so glad you have beautiful memories of your trip through the Cederberg mountains … it’s such a magical place for me! My goodness, I will have to go back to the ‘Soldaatkop’ and make a few ‘adjustments’ to that rock formation 😄.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Have enjoyed the next leg of your adventure. The Trump rock was a real hoot and ohhh those horses. Just gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your photos bring out the beauty of this rugged country. I’ve never seen so many bird nests in one tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve just finished sipping on one of my many cup of rooibos tea’s I’ll have for the day (guilt free) I drink it black and with no sugar and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing such lovely images and historical information, so much appreciated. Stay safe and take care ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, it’s great to hear you’re also a fan of Rooibos tea … I must admit, I do add some milk in mine (no sugar) … but the best way, is to drink it like you do! Thanks for reading about our day in the mountains, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. Take care 💌.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I always find it nice when we can mix a bit of history into our travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Such an amazing place! My favorite picture is of the church. So much history, What a shame about the fire.

    Liked by 1 person

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