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LOCAL TIME: 02:52 pm | Tuesday, 31 March
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Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, Cederberg

Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area

If you would like to visit a pristine wilderness area that offers extraordinary rock formations, a multitude of hiking trails and the chance to camp outdoors wherever you fancy, then Groot Winterhoek is the place for you. The mountains are 2077m at their highest point and the beauty of the area is breathtaking – the diversity of the mountain fynbos is so great that locals say there is a different species in bloom every day of the year. The Vier-en-twintig River runs through deep gorges and plunges into the beautiful Die Hel valley.

This wilderness area, only 120km north of Cape Town, is over 30,000ha and is particularly important for the conservation of endemic mountain fynbos and wildlife and as a source of clean water to the Cape metropole and the west coast. The rock formations consist of Table Mountain sandstone, and caves are decorated with Bushman (San) art dating back between 300 and 6 000 years.

Weather

One must be prepared for the weather at Groot Winterhoek which can be rather unpredictable. Although summers are mainly dry and hot, hikers should be prepared for a sudden cold snap. In winter, the temperature often drops to far below freezing and heavy snow is common on the higher peaks. Mist just adds to the mix. The average annual rainfall is 1 450 mm and the heaviest rains are between April and September.

Groot Winterhoek Flora

Flora

The threatened Sorocephalus scabridus, a member of the protea family, grows at Kliphuisvlakte. A large variety of red disa flower in abundance along the streams near the reserve office in January and February. Many erica species occur and flower virtually throughout the year. The ericas are particularly beautiful in the summer and the veld resembles a colourful patchwork.

Fauna

Klipspringers, grey rhebok and grysbok are abundant and easily seen. Leopard, caracal, wild cat, mongoose, genet and other predators are found here, but are not often seen. A few rare lizard species occur, most notably the southern rock lizard, Australolacerta australis.

About 100 bird species are found, including the endemic Cape rockjumper and numerous raptors like black eagle, goshawk, peregrine falcon, rock kestrel and jackal buzzard. Among the smaller birds are Victorin’s warbler, the protea canary and the Cape sugarbird.

Rock Art

Various examples of rock art can be found in the area. Rock paintings illustrate the religious and social life of the Bushman or San, whose ancestors have lived in southern Africa for more than 100 000 years.

Click for enlarged map

Hiking

Groot Winterhoek is a hiker’s paradise with up to five days of trails of varying length and difficulty. The trails are laid out two zones – Kliphuis and Perdevlei in the east, and De Tronk and Die Hel in the south. The hikes penetrate the wildemess, winding below the rock formations so typical of the area and include beautiful clear clean rock pools. Although this is a wilderness area and hence the hiker can walk and camp anywhere, there are well defined paths to follow and unless one is prepared to suffer the pain of being scratched to death by the fynbos then it is better to stick to these paths.

Download the map.

Accommodation

A well equipped self-catering house, Veepos (sleeps six guests), is situated up in the mountains near the entrance to the wilderness area with wide-angle views of the Winterberg. Electricity, linen, cutlery, crockery and firewood are provided. An old farmhouse at De Tronk has seven beds in four rooms. It has a flush toilet and a bath, a gas stove and geyser, and a solar panel for lights. Cutlery, crockery and basic kitchenware are provided. There are primitive shelters at Perdevlei or simple huts at De Tronk. Hikers may use these, or choose to overnight anywhere in the veld.

Groot Winterhoek HikingDirections

The road to Groot Winterhoek Wilderness leaves the R44 at the Cardouw turn-off about 2Km north of Porterville and climbs 33km over the spectacular Dasklip Pass. Follow the sign-boards to the office and parking area. The steeper parts of this pass are tarred but care must be taken to negotiate it safely.

Reservations

Reservations can be made telephonically in advance. It is advisable to book early to avoid disappointment! National callers: 0861 CAPENATURE (227 362 8873): International callers: 0027 861 227 362 8873 OR Western Cape Nature Conservation Board Central Bookings 021 483 0190

Contact Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area on Telephone +27 (0)22 931-2900: Email

Information

Cars are parked at the Veepos office from where the trail begins. Here one also completes the hiking register. There is no cell phone reception in wilderness, nor any facilities, so take your own tents.

For an in depth description of the hikes visit the Foot Print Hiking Club.

More info on the town of Wolseley More info on the Breede Valley area



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