Piketberg to Citrusdal to Cederberg Wilderness Area September 2020

After our R&R day of catching up with washing, cleaning, and sorting out various odds and ends, we woke up to a cloudy and thunderous looking sunrise.  After our morning coffee, we left Leentjiesklip in Langebaan and set out towards Piketberg. We vouched it would be short day.

We made a stop in Hopefield for a bit of shopping and visited a local Bee Observation Centre, which sounds a bit grander than it is. It’s a cute shop with a nice variety of honeys and beeswax based products. As far as we could discern, the Bee Observation part of the deal is a little room with an active beehive (behind glass) and for people who have never seen a real beehive in action up close (and safe) it’s most probably quite an interesting experience. We couldn’t resist buying some citrus honey. Yummie!

Back on the main road we continued towards Koper Ketel Fontein, where we took a left turn to drive the rural gravel road around Koringberg. The landscape comprises rolling hills of green (at this moment) wheat fields and bright yellow canola fields, overlooked by the tall sentinels of the windfarms. Set against the dramatic blueish-greyish skyline of the Cederberg Mountains in the far distance, it makes for spectacular colour palettes.

When we came back onto the main road, we pushed on to Piketberg to fill up with diesel. From there we continued to the Versfeld Pass which takes you up and around Piket Berg. We found an idyllic spot on top of the pass and parked our home for the night.

After a very quiet night on top of the pass, we continued the loop route back to Piket Berg via Goedverwacht. Mist and clouds were draped over the mountains and fynbos and protea alternated with vineyards and orchards. Quite unexpectedly we passed a livestock farm on the mountain with chickens, turkeys, sheep, boerbokkies and pigs in the most organic circumstances ever.

In the last day or two we had made arrangements with my sister Lut (a Capetonian and fervent off-roader) to arrange and meet with the family for an outdoorsy weekend somewhere in the Cederberg. We quickly popped in at Piketberg Tourism Office for some more info regarding some Cederberg destinations on my sister’s list and soon enough we continued towards Citrusdal en route to Algeria.

In Citrusdal we must have missed a turn off that would have kept us on the national road N7 and got onto a dirt road. The road was much slower, but much nicer of scenery.

As the name explains itself… this is citrus world. Citrus plantations wherever you look and we figured out soon enough it’s harvesting season. At one point we met a truck with trailer (like the one in the picture below) filled with crates of freshly picked oranges. So far, in hamlets dotted on mountainsides or on narrow gravel roads, we’ve been the bigger of two meeting vehicles and the smaller bakkies usually back up courteously to let us pass.

At our point of meeting the citrus truck the road was too narrow (or the two trucks too big, depending how you look at it) for the trucks to pass. As we were on the valley/ravine fall away side (and I kinda value my life) I graciously offered to get out of Trokkie to guide my driver. I think on the first try the trucks stopped when there was only 1 centimeter between our truck and the other driver’s mirror. In this case WE were the smallest of the two trucks, so WE backed up a few meters to a part of the road that was just a bit straighter and slightly wider and both trucks could pass. Looking at the truck photo below (r): just imagine a road  that was at least half a meter narrower with a rockface on the passenger side of the citrus truck and a mountain slope dropping away on our passenger (my) side. When I guided Stefaan as far as possible to the edge of the road, I was truly happy not being in the truck! I was so sorry to have left the camera in the truck because it was a really tight pass! One for the books!

The rest of our trip was- in comparison- quite uneventful. We passed Algeria and got over the Uitkyk Pass and just a short while later we turned into a dirt road and parked for the night amidst big boulders and fynbos. As it was still afternoon, Stefaan decided to climb up to the ridge. I went along for part of the climb but remembering the advice of the Algeria office (this is leopard country) I wasn’t too sure about this and returned to the safety of the truck. Eventually I stepped out of Trokkie to see where Stefaan was on the mountain (the blue dot) and resorted to try waving him down with a glass of wine in my hands. Although in the end he came back down to the truck, he swears the glass of wine had nothing to do with it. We chilled and had a good night!

Next day was a short day for us driving towards Nuwerust Campsite where we would meet up with my sister and her family. We  continued out of the valley, passing vineyards on the slopes of the mountain, making a very important stop at a winery and making a short stop at a quaint and colourful family graveyard at Matjiesrivier.  Later that afternoon my sister arrived and we spent the rest of the evening celebrating birthdays and  catching up.

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