HEUNINGVLEI HIKING TRAIL – Cederberg Mountains (5)


August 2021

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!

At the start of 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!

The rock formations were wrapped in a cloud of mist

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.

We could see the road ahead

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.

Small stones on a steep uphill

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.

Not always so easy on the foot
The highlight of the trail must be to see these rock formations

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.

A viewpoint on the trail – on a clear day, this must be a wonderful sight

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!

With less mist, we had a clearer view where the road was taking us

We continued to see beautiful flowers on our hiking route – actually, we could smell them before we saw them!

Dew drops decorate pretty flowers

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!

Yes, still climbing …

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!

Water in nature – music to my ears

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!

Can you see the dragon’s mouth and tongue?

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.

Heuningvlei is just visible down in the valley
An act of balance in nature
Not sure if these were edible … we did not try to find out

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.

A welcome sight – arriving at Heuningvlei!

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).

Backpackers’ lodge at Heuningvlei
More evidence of recent rain – walking towards Heuningvlei

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”.

Houses at Heuningvlei
The only time we’ve experienced a bit of sun, was while watching the sheep

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.

Cooking water for our hot drinks
The best time on a hiking trail – lunch time!
Back on the trail again – walking around a large pool of water in the road
And stopping at another flower bush

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).

Downhill on a rocky path

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.

The beautiful protea
Back at the sandy path – much easier under foot
We can smell the end!

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!

Don’t you think this rock looks like a “thumbs’ up” – to congratulate us that we have completed the trail 😄
Back at the gate (and the mist) from where we started 7 hours ago

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.

Short video of Heuningvlei Hiking Trail

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!

Categories: South African Break Aways

52 comments

  1. Loved following along on your hiking trail and watching your video Corna. What a day and even in the mist being able to see all those wonderful wild flowers including the stunning Protea National flower! I agree that although going steeply downhill is in most respects far easier than an ascent it can be jarring on the knee. Hope both you and Berto have a great weekend whatever you plan to do. Marion

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Marion – glad you could hike with us (and not even experience a drop of sweat while doing so 😄). Yes, the Protea is a stunning flower … I love to see this in nature! Thank you, we will have a few “braai’s” (barbeque) this weekend – summer is on its way! Enjoy your weekend too. Corna

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing…!
    The mist certainly adds to the mystery and splendour and the splashes of colour from the flowers are magnificent. I love the protea!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I really enjoyed your description and photos of your hike. The fog and mist was added to the experience. That rock definitely looks like a dragon. John

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The mist added a certain mystery to the walk by the look of it

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a stunning walk. The mist really created a mysterious atmosphere. Thanks for sharing such a beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve got behind with reading your blog because of my own travels, but I had to ‘join you’ on this walk and I’m so glad I did, especially for those misty rock formations and the beautiful protea 😀 Too far for me to walk, even on level ground, but I’m happy to have seen it all through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for taking me on your journey . I would love to be able to walk inn Nature but I can’t so this means a lot to me. Very beautiful. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love, love, love everything you shared here, Corna! The mist, the lovely unexpected flowers, your conversation with the young village woman, your warm lunch, the great rock formations, and the tough ascent! We would make great hiking partners! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another great hike guys! Even the mist couldn’t cover up the beauty of the landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Looks like a wonderful hike – terrific rock formations and just loved the wildflowers. Cheers, Mark

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dis so ‘n ongelooflike mooi omgewing waar julle gaan stap het! Diaar is die mooiste rotsformasies en julle was ook gelukkig om van die blomme te sien!! Ek is beslis nie fiks genoeg om daardie pad aan te durf nie. Die video het my beslis laat besef hoe hoog dit is waar julle gestap het! Dankie dat julle dit met ons gedeel het. Ons wil beslis by Pakhuys gaan bly!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow those rock formations are incredible and so unique. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What is that Afrikaans song…? “My hart verlang… Na/aan die berge?” Dus what ek wil sing as ek joy mooi pics en video sien…. My insides pine when I see the beautiful low lying clouds creating such drama and mystery along with the Rocky outcrops. You are truly blessed to be enjoying this. Thank you for sharing. 💖🙋‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😄 … “My hart verlang na die berge”! I’m feeling so blessed to read your Afrikaans comments Morag! That was a really spectacular hike (it was only afterwards that I’ve realised just how exhausted I was …😉). And we’ve never hiked a trail in such misty conditions, but it definitely contributed to the feeling of contentment.
      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this one with us. Take care 💌.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I look at clouds and see shapes in them, you look at rocks. We have great imaginations. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This would be a great place for us to see and hike. Those rock formations are amazing. It would be an amazing getaway. Thanks for sharing Anita

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Glad to take this trail with you, the reward at the end of the journey! Well done. The rock formations made it endlessly interesting, the mist a bit mysterious.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I will not be able to do a 23 km hiking trail, wow that is amazing! Even though I walk almost every morning I am not that brave to try this out and I especially appreciate that you’ve allowed me to experience a bit of your world. Such beautiful images, video clip and description of everything, and also pointing out the “dragon” and “thumb-up “rocks 🙂 I loved it all. Thank you for a wonderful post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ek het hierdie bloginskrywing geweldig baie geniet. Jou foto’s is pragtig, selfs al was dit mistige weer. Ek sou ook bang wees vir die ‘misty dragon’ en ja, ek stem saam die laaste rots gee vir jou ‘n thumbs up! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Baie dankie Toortsie (dis vir my so ‘n mooi naam – liggie wat skyn 😊). Ek is bly jy het die inskrywing geniet … want vir ons was hierdie stappie net so lekker – die lam bene kom mos eers na die tyd)! En hoe wonderlik dat jy ook die ‘figure’ in die rotse kon raaksien – dit wys my verbeelding is nie so oor-aktief nie).
      En dankie dat jy ons blog volg – ons doen dieselfde met joune ook … ek het reeds gesien ek kan lekker lees daar by jou 🌸.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. This is some awesome thinking. I love this! Wonderful ideas!💓

    Liked by 1 person

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