Cederberg Camping and Exploring San Bushman Paintings

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Leopard Rock with San Bushman Paintings

The following article courtesy of:


The ‘Bushmen’ are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, where they are commonly known as Bushmen, San, Khwe or as the Basarwa. They have been resident in and around the Kalahari Desert for at least 20,000 years which spans areas of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The terms San, Khwe, Bushmen, and Basarwa have all been used to refer to hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa. They speak a variety of languages, all of which incorporate ‘click’ sounds represented in writing by symbols such as! or /. Genetic evidence suggests they are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, peoples in the world. They were hunter-gatherers, hunting with bows and arrows, trapping small animals and eating edible roots and berries.

250Y8299They lived in rock shelters, in the open or in crude shelters of twigs and grass or animal skins. They made no pottery, rather using ostrich eggshells or animal parts for storing and holding liquids. For these reasons, animals and nature are central features in the Bushman’s religious tradition, folklore, art and rituals.The Bushman are small in statue and usually have large bottoms hence the term “Bushman bum.


The most important southern Bushmen spiritual being was /Kaggen, the trickster-deity. He created many things, and appears in numerous myths where he can be foolish or wise, tiresome or helpful.The word ‘/Kaggen’ can be translated as ‘mantis’, this lead to the belief that the Bushmen worshipped the praying mantis. However, /Kaggen is not a praying mantis: the mantis is only one of his manifestations. He can also turn into an eland, a hare, a snake or a vulture; he can assume many forms. When he is not in one of his animal forms, /Kaggen lives his life of an ordinary Bushman, hunting, fighting and getting into scraps. The Bushmen’s beliefs go beyond that. The eland is their most spiritual animal and appears in four rituals:1-boys’ first kill,2-girls’ puberty,3-marriage and 4-trance dance.


A ritual is held where the boy is told how to track an eland and how the eland will fall once shot with an arrow. He becomes an adult when he kills his first large antelope, preferably an eland. The eland is skinned and the fat from the eland’s’ throat and collar bone is made into a broth. This broth has great potency. In the girls’ puberty rituals, a young girl is isolated in her hut at her first menstruation. The women of the tribe perform the Eland Bull Dance where they imitate the mating behavior of the eland cows. A man will play the part of the eland bull, usually with horns on his head. This ritual will keep the girl beautiful, free from hunger and thirst and peaceful. As part of the marriage ritual, the man gives the fat from the eland’s’ heart to the girls’ parents. At a later stage the girl is anointed with eland fat. In the trance dance, the eland is considered the most potent of all animals, and the shamans aspire to possess eland potency. The modern Bushmen of the Kalahari believe in two gods: one who lives in the east and one from the west. ‘Medicine People’ or shamans protect everyone from these spirits and sickness. A shaman is someone who enters a trance in order to heal people, protect them from evil spirits and sickness, foretell the future, control the weather, ensure good hunting and generally try to look after the well being of their group.


The Bushmen are well known for their rock art paintings of stickmen figure hunting and gathering. These bushman paintings have become important historical finds as they have given historians key data in the lives and times that the Bushman has been around as well as the movement of African people. The bushman are not notorious for their craft but are more known for their paintings and rock art. They do however make traditional arts and crafts today such as eggshell jewelry, bows and arrows, dancing and fire sticks and dancing skirts. They are also making exquisite textiles and ceramics that have been hand painted with traditional images.




“Hike the Cederberg” Map by Slingsby


Gecko Creek Wilderness Lodge is featured in the Northern Section of Peter Slingsby’s new “Hike the Cederberg” map., complete with our Leopard Rock, Elephant Rock, and ring road hiking trails. The map also outlines the property boundary, as well as our GPS coordinates, height above sea level (from 252 m to 609 m) and distances from the N7 to our gate (1.6 km to the Olifants River Bridge), then another 2.6 km to our gate located on the right hand side, followed by our 3.5 km driveway through the african bush to our lodge. Your Cederberg accommodation at Gecko Creek Private Nature Reserve includes the options of staying in wooden cabins/chalets, safari tents, or pitching your own tent or caravan under the shade of our trees.

Great little review in this month’s Go! magazine.

Hike the Cederberg by Slingsby Maps R225

You’ll have a hard time getting lost in the Cederberg with this map in your backpack. Every trail, contour line, cave and stream has been noted by the cartographers, who actually walked the routes themselves. Accommodation options and contact details are also included. Printed on two double-sided A1 sheets, you actually get four maps for the price. It’s the best Cederberg map we’ve ever seen.’

[we ACTUALLY walked the routes ourselves ]

Look out for a longer article in the January edition of Go! and Weg!


Hiking in the Cederberg

Five Great Cederberg Hikes

We found this very informative article courtesy of news24:


If you feel the need to escape from it all and experience a bit of wonderful wildness, heading to the Cederberg area is always a good idea. Located about 200km from Cape Town (factor in a 3 hour drive, because of gravel roads), it’s viable as a day outing, but if you have time to spare a weekend break is definitely the way to go.

We check out five hiking trails worth exploring while there. Groups are limited to a maximum of 12 people per day. Permits are either available from Algeria Forest Station/campsite or Sanddrif.

From Algeria

Algeria is Cape Nature’s main campsite for the Cederberg Wilderness area, and the start and end point for a couple of the day hikes.

Middelberg Waterfall walk

Distance: 4km

Time: 3 hour return

Difficulty: Easy

Highlights: A short, moderately steep walk up the mountain from Algeria Campsite. The route is clearly marked and ends at the picturesque of the Middelberg Waterfall – the perfect spot for a picnic and dip in the small pool.

From Dwarsrivier/Sanddrif

Privately owned by Cederberg Cellars, Dwarsrivier is a few km along the dirt road from Algeria and also the point where many of the day hikes start and finish.


Maltese Cross

Distance: 7 kilometres

Time: 3,5 – 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Highlights: The easily recognizable footpath is marked with cairns pointing the way to the 5-storey rock formation, dubbed the Maltese Cross. The out-and-return route starts with a mild uphill climb and then an easy downhill return along the same route. The entire trail offers superb views of the Cederberg Mountain range.

Lot’s Wife & Window Rocks

Distance: 1,6km

Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Highlights: While you can drive, take a leisurely stroll from Dwarsrivier towards Algeria instead, until you see the Lot’s Wife parking sign. Taking on the shape of a petrified praying woman if seen from the correct angle, it’s no surprise why the intriguing rock was named after the Biblical woman who turned into a salt pillar when she looked back to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. From there you start a gentle walk to where the beautiful Window Rocks can be seen.

Wolfberg Cracks and Arch

Time: 8 hours return

Difficulty: Tough, only for seasoned hikers

Highlights: Starting about 1,2km from Sanddrif at the foot of the Wolfberg, the trail takes you through three cracks in the rocks – of which the third one is the hardest to climb – and eventually the famous arch at the top. Although there is an alternative route via the Riff, the same route is recommended on returning from the Arch. When obtaining the passport, make sure you get proper directions for the route from the office staff.

Stadsaal Cave and rock paintings


Distance: Okay, okay. It’s not actually a hiking trail, but you can spend much of the day exploring and adventuring the area once you’ve reached it by car… and it really comes highly recommended.

Time: Depends entirely on you!

Highlights: Once you’ve obtained your permit from any of the tourist offices in the area, head along the gravel road that leads to Ceres and look out for the Stadsaal Caves sign. A gate limits access to the area, but with the permit you will receive a key. First stop off at the well-preserved bushman paintings, depicting what seem to be elephants. From there, meander along to the large Stadsaal Cave, either on foot or by car. Here you will see some more modern kind of ‘rock art, ‘ including the names of ministers, writers and presidents that had been grafitied there by the men themselves.

Cape Nature has put together an extensive hiking guideline for visitors to their parks, check it out for useful tips and suggestions.