This route, no longer dirt, through the incredible mountainous region of the Cederberg takes one across no fewer than three mountain passes.
Roughly 18 km from Clanwilliam (just after you cross the Kliphuis River) is the sign for the grave of Louis Leipoldt, the poet, journalist, and physician who grew up in Clanwilliam, in a rock shelter in which there are also a series of faded San paintings.
Route 364 now heads up Pakhuis (packing shed) Pass (ranked #1 of 8 attractions in Clanwilliam by Trip Advisor), designed by Thomas Bain, yet another of his masterpieces, roughly 20 km outside of Clanwilliam. From its summit expect incredible views over the Karoo. The hiking trail to Heuningvlei starts here.
Roughly 21 km after Pakhuis Pass, take a right to Wupperthal and the Biedouw Valley, just after the Englishman’s Grave. 9 km later, now on dirt road and 48 km from Clanwilliam, you begin your ascent of the Uitkyk Pass, with one of the best view points of the area at its summit.
You reach the mission village of Wupperthal (23 km from the Uitkyk Pass), on the banks of the Tra-tra River, via a steep descent down Kleinhoogte. You will want to spend some time here, if not overnight, as the village is beautiful. There are a number of hiking trails from Wupperthal, including those of the Cederberg Heritage Route, like the Gabriël Trail, The town is also on theMission Station Route.
Retrace your route back to Clanwilliam, or continue along the Biedouw Valley dirt road toMatjiesriver Nature Reserve.
Clanwilliam to Matjiesriver Nature Reserve
On day two, leave Clanwilliam on Ou Kaapse Road (the Cape Road) alongside the Olifants River. For several kilometres the road runs alongside the Clanwilliam Dam.
Most of this route is on gravel road.
At the y-junction, take a right (roughly 7 km outside of Clanwilliam), and head towards the dam. This road runs along the shores of the dam for some time with wonderful view points. The dam is not very wide, but it stretches for 22 km and is rather deep and clear. On a clear day it is quite beautiful and popular for water sports.
Take the time to picnic.
After almost 20 km you reach a crossroads. Take a left away from the Olifants River (the right takes you to the N7) and shortly afterwards you begin ascending the steep gradients of the Kriedouw Kloof Pass.
Shortly after this you climb yet further into the Cederberg Mountains via the Nieuwoudt Pass, with spectacular views from the summit. The Krakadouw Mountains are to your left, whilst Middelberg ridge rises in front of you. Down in the valley below is Algeria.
Follow signs to Algeria campsite, where the Rondegat River offers lovely rock pools in which to cool off. There are also hikes from here.
As you leave Algeria, take a left back onto the road by which you descended the passes, parallesl to the Uitkyk River. Look out for signs to the Kromrivier Cederberg Park (roughly 70 km after you turned left to drive along the Clanwilliam Dam), heading straight at the fork in the road for Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve.
Retrace the route back to the fork in the road (roughly 4 km) and take a right. From here, follow directions and instructions on reaching the Stadtsaal caves at Matjiesriver Nature Reserve.
The reserve lies on the Cederberg’s eastern boundary and, as part of a day hike, you can visit the Stadtsaal caves, evidence of the rock art by the San people. They are called Stadtsaal (city hall) after the series of interconnecting dome caves reminiscent of a city hall, such is their enormity.
You can also walk to Truitjieskraal from Matjiesrivier.
Self Drive Clanwilliam to Wupperthal
WHERE? Route: Clanwilliam, Pakhuis Pass, Uitkyk Pass, Wupperthal, Matjiesriver, Nieuwoudt Pass, Kriedouw Kloof Pass, Clanwilliam Dam.
WHEN? Best during daylight hours to appreciate the beauty of the area.
HOW MUCH? Free
Route: Clanwilliam, Pakhuis Pass, Uitkyk Pass, Wupperthal, Matjiesriver, Nieuwoudt Pass, Kriedouw Kloof Pass, Clanwilliam Dam
Description: a circular drive through the Cederberg to Wuppertal and Matjies River
Length: roughly 190 km
Time: best driven over two days (not because it is long, but so that you have time to take in all the attractions and views en route, or include a hike). Note that the turn off to Wupperthal and the Biedouw Valley is a gravel road and the last few km of the route to Wupperthal, in particular, will need a 4x4 vehicle.
Overnight: Clanwilliam, Wupperthal, Cederberg
This is one of the most scenic drives; a wonderful way to experience the Cederberg Wilderness proper.
Clanwilliam to Wupperthal (70 km)
Leave Clanwilliam via Graafwater Road (R364), cross the Jan Dissels River, foregoing the left turn to Klawer (R363). The road passes in amongst the jumble of rock formations so typical of the Cederberg, on both sides of the road.