Sneeuberg is the highest peak in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. If you like spectacular rock formations, fynbos and beautiful sunsets, this is the place to be. We climbed Sneeuberg as part of an overnight out-and-back hike.
The Cederberg Wilderness Area is located in the Western Cape in South Africa. The closest town in Clanwilliam. It is a 234km drive from Cape Town via the N7 north through Citrusdal. Take the mountain pass to Algeria/Cederberge and then the partly paved and partly dirt road south. The start of this overnight hike is near Driehoek Guest Farm on the main road towards Cederberg Wines. Park under the shady oak tree at the bend in the road.
We did this hike as part of our big trip to all the corners of South Africa. Read more about this journey in the (e)book Chasing Ostriches.
Camping at Driehoek Guest Farm
We spent the night before the hike at the campsite of Driehoek Guest Farm*. This farm is a very short drive away to the start of the hike and has a lovely setting next to a small river. It is the ideal place to cool off in the heat of the summer.
- You need a permit for the hike from Cape Nature. Pick it up at the Cape Nature Algeria office.
- Some of the roads in the Cederberg are dirt roads, but can be done in a normal car.
- Slingsby Maps of the Cederberg are essential – there are no signs in the wilderness area.
- We used a UV water filter for this hike, but on other occasions we drank straight from the streams.
- The only good stream for water on this hike is just beyond the hut.
- Bring a sunhat and sunscreen, as there is little shade.
- Make sure to take enough water bottles – at least 2 liters, 3 liters in summer.
- You can leave your camping stuff in the Sneeuberg hut once you pass it on the way to Sneeuberg.
- Boots covering the ankle help against twisting your foot, and also give some protection against potential snake bites.
- Winter would be cold, and summer hot with little water – so spring and autumn are the best times to go. We went in late summer though.
We started our hike early in the morning. After parking our Defender in the shade of a big oak, we backed our bags. We did a slightly unusual thing by packing a big rucksack with all the camping items and dinner, plus a smaller backpack with water, lunch and our jackets. As this is a out-and-back hike and our intended overnight stop was near the the sneeuberg hut, which is 400 m up from the start, we could leave the big rucksack there.
The first part of the hike is on a track. I think this was constructed back in the day for logging ceder trees. It is a steady climb up to the plateau where the Sneeuberg hut is and you follow the track until you are almost at the hut.
The path continues along the hut and crosses the nearby stream, the only source of water on this hike. Shortly you turn left and climb over a small saddle. The views from the saddle are breath-taking, beautiful rock formations and stunning views with in the far distance the Maltese Cross.
From the saddle it is approximately two kilometers to the turnoff for Sneeuberg. Look out for a small path to the right and a quite obvious cairn. From here the path goes up to the ridge which Sneeuberg is part of. After gaining 400 m of elevation, you can finally see to the other side to Citrusdal.
Scrambles on Sneeuberg
The next part of the hike is much more difficult than the first part and involves a lot of scrambling. We had a short break and left our backpack below a big boulder for the second stage of this hike. There are a number of ways to the top and we didn’t go exactly the same way down. Look out for cairns and faint paths.
The difficulty of the hike increases the higher you get, partly because it gets more exposed. Go as far as you feel comfortable. Initially, there are a few simple scrambles up some rock faces and gullies. Next you have to squeeze through a few gaps between big boulders to make it to higher ground. The next set of scrambles are quite exposed. At about 25 vertical meters from the top we decided we had enough fun and stopped to admire the view.
The way down was as much fun as the way up, and after numerous scrambles we were back to where we left our bag. A well deserved lunch was waiting for us.
We returned the way we came, back to the Sneeuberg hut.
Camping at Sneeuberg Hut
This was not the first time we camped near the Sneeuberg hut. The previous time on our 4 day Cederberg circuit we camped a little away from the hut in between the rock formations, as other hikers were staying in the hut. This time the hut was free and we camped right next to it on a nice flat sandy stretch. You can’t see the hut from there though as it is nicely camouflaged by the big boulders.
We had a relaxing time reading, while the sun slowly sank to Tafelberg (not the famous one in Cape Town) in the distance across the valley.
We woke up at sunrise and enjoyed the beautiful colours of the morning light. There is nothing like waking up in the middle of the wilderness with nothing but nature around you. After a hot breakfast of breakfast packs, we packed up and descended back to our car. This hike proved again why we keep on wanting to come back to the Cederberg. Hiking and wilderness camping in such a stunning area with the most interesting rock formations is quite sublime.
Alternative Route South
Previous times we have wondered what the dirt road was like going south through the Cederberg beyond Sanddrif and Cederberg Wines. This time we came with our Defender instead of the old Golfie and went for it. We took the dirt road south on our way to Tulbagh. It is a very stunning alternative to the N7 and the pass to Algeria, and it takes you through some very rural areas.