This will be our final post covering our road trip from the Tankwa Karoo to the Cederberg Mountains. And eventually, in our last post, we can share the reason why we’ve actually done this trip … to do the Heuningvlei Hiking Trail!
Heuningvlei Hiking Trail:
This trail starts at Pakhuys Pass (near Clanwilliam) and features beautiful wild flowers and stunning rock formations. Although it is described as one of the most scenic walks in the Western Cape, it is rated as a moderate to difficult hike … some say it’s easy, but I won’t go that far, if you’re not hiking fit, you may find this quite strenuous. The hike is close to 12km (7.4 miles) to reach Heuningvlei, but since we’ve walked to Heuningvlei and back again to Pakhuys Pass in one day, we’ve covered 23km (14.2 miles).
We only had one day to do this hike … so, when we were greeted with a light drizzle in the morning, there were no other way around this. We took our rain jackets and backpacks and hoped for the best!
Fortunately, the light rain stopped and only a low cloud of mist stayed behind. We’ve walked the entire route (there and back) in these misty conditions, which added some mystery to our walk.
The route is a rough jeep track – sometimes it was easy on the foot with hard sand, but most of the time we had from small stones to round rocks in our path, which mean we had to be careful not to cause injury to our ankles.
We were quite surprised to see so many colourful flowers and the well-known fynbos of this area. Since it was misty, we did not expect to see so much colour … it must be beautiful on a sunny day.
The hike slowly climbs up, while you’re surrounded by the astonishing sandstone cliffs.
After about 4km, we came to a viewpoint from where we could see into the valley – De Pakhuys, our accommodation, was somewhere down there in the mist.
To our delight, the mist became lighter and we were now able to see further ahead … I’m not always sure that’s a good idea, because now we could see how far we still had to go!
We continued to see beautiful flowers on our hiking route – actually, we could smell them before we saw them!
After about 7km, we were still not at the top of the trail – we knew we still had to climb to the shoulder of the Groenberg … so, on we go!
Since this is a winter rainfall area, we could see the evidence of rain everywhere … the ground was wet and the field luscious. But the best part of this hiking trail, is to hear the sound of water falling down the cliffs. It was a great moment to stop at one of these small waterfalls and just enjoy the sound of nature!
And then, as I’ve turned around after watching the waterfall to follow the road again, I had the fright of my life! Now, just to make it clear, I doubt whether there are dragons in this world … but I can swear I saw one!
Berto and I always have this game of making figures out of rocks … and we’ve agreed, this rock must be called “the misty dragon” 😁.
And then, after ‘escaping’ from the dragon, we were very happy to see Heuningvlei around the next corner … though it was still another 3km downhill to get there.
After a fork in the jeep track, we followed the straight drop down to the left. You could follow the way to the right which will also bring you to Heuningvlei, but we did not want to add more distance to our journey as we still had to walk all the way back to Pakhuys Pass.
Heuningvlei is one of fourteen outpost villages of the Moravian Mission Church at Wupperthal. There are currently living around 20 families and the community is renowned for using traditional methods to produce dried fruit and for organically cultivating Rooibos tea.
There is a backpackers’ lodge for hikers that wants to overnight here – especially for those hikers that book The Three Day Donkey Cart Trail (beginning in Wupperthal and ends at Pakhuys Pass).
We’ve seen a couple of small children playing in the village, as well as a young woman who sat close by. While Berto explored the village further, I had a chat with her. She told me that she was born at Heuningvlei and love to live in this tiny village. She asked me whether we will stay at the Backpackers’ lodge and when I said no and that we intended walking back to Pakhuys Pass, she just shook her head and said “but why would you walk so far for nothing?” 😊. I said “maybe to experience just a tiny bit of what you experience every day”.
After we strolled around Heuningvlei and giving a few packets of sweets to the little ones, we left again … back from where we came from.
Just outside Heuningvlei, we found a rock to sit and relax, while Berto made us steamy hot coffee and cappuccino and we enjoyed a few sausages and cheese.
After a climb to get back to the top of the mountain, it was now downhill almost the whole way! It sounds great, but hey, it’s tough on the knees (and even more so when you have to choose your steps carefully between the big rocks in the road).
It was on our way back, that I eventually saw the amazing South African flower, namely the protea! This flower is honoured as the national flower of South Africa and to see them in nature, is always a wonderful moment.
After covering a distance of 23km, we reached the end of our hiking trail. I have to admit, walking 23km on a flat road is completely different than the same distance over a mountain!
Our tip(s) for this route:
- Remember, you’ll need a Cederberg Wilderness permit for this hike, which can be issued at the CapeNature office at the bottom of Pakhuys Pass or, if you stay at De Pakhuys (like we have), it’s available from their office.
- If you’re hiking fit, you will enjoy this trail.
- Take enough water – during summer months it can become very hot in this area
I had the GoPro with me during this hike and Berto made another video of our hike – it’s just one minute long. Enjoy a quick overview of our hike in the beautiful Cederberg Mountains.
We hope you enjoyed walking with us – it certainly had its challenges, but we’re happy we’ve done it!
Thank you for reading our Tankwa Karoo to the Cederberg Mountains road trip. We hope to take you with us soon again!