Sebrakop had been a major goal for my trip. I knew that access to it would be more difficult than any other peak on the trip, and odds of me being able to arrange a hike up it on a subsequent trip would be low – aside from the drive out to Piketberg being fairly substantial. Thus I had set aside day 2 of my trip as a backup day for a second try if weather was bad or something went wrong. For that matter, I was happy to sacrifice my Saronsberg attempt later in the trip if both of these days didn’t go according to plan.
So when I got up Sebrakop on day 1, I suddenly found myself in a part of the country I don’t know well with no specific plans in mind. I did consider driving to the Cederberg earlier and just do a day hike, but I knew I had a lot of big days ahead of me, and I know that the exercise f-word (fatigue) always gets to you sooner or later – so I opted for an easy day out.
Naturally the go-to person for suggesting places to visit is my sister-in-law, so I dropped her a message. She suggested that I travel to Elands Bay and visit some rock art sites. She was undecided one whether or not she intended to visit that area, so her suggestion did come with a disclaimer of something along the lines of “it might not be worth it”. I always enjoy a good rock art site, and it would mean driving around the northern end of the Piketberge, plus driving through Clanwiliam instead of Citrusdal on the way to the Cederberg – so I was in.
Driving around the Piketberge provided some great views and some context on the layout of the range.
Arriving in Elands Bay, the scenery had changed a lot from the the Piketberg area. The hills became very smaller and the vegetation looked more desert-like. The last 1km of the road to Elands Bay Cave was a fairly rough dirt road – doable in my little Yaris, but it had to be driven slowly.
Elands Bay Cave is publicly accessible, free entry and it is unmonitored. This means it has been graffitied and vandalised over the years. This always makes me sad – once historical artifacts are lost, they are gone forever. The area in front of the cave also includes a series of abandoned buildings. These kinds of locations would attract visitors worldwide if marketed correctly and properly looked after – it is a real shame to see this.
Having taken a few minutes to properly look at the rock art, I decided to go down and touch the Atlantic Ocean. I have had my hand in the Atlantic Ocean a number of times, although never this far north. The location I went to is called Baboon Point – which seems to be noted as a fishing site more than anything else. After thinking my drive out to Elands Bay had been a waste of time, stumbling upon this suddenly made the drive well worth it!
I first saw series of rocks covered in muscles. I used to enjoy eating those when I was little, although I can’t stand them now. The smell was pretty horrendous, but that’s to be expected.
I then walked to try and find a spot where I could put my hand in the sea, and that’s when I stumbled upon at least a hundred seals.
On my previous Cape Trip, I had been happy to see a few seals at Cape Point, but had wanted to see them a bit closer. This site was clearly not often visited by tourists, for most of the time I sat and watched them, there was no one else near me. I sat for an hour or so watching them.
I found a spot on the edge of a rock, and watched them swimming right under my feet. I saw them sitting in the sun on the rocks. Some even looked at me when I said “smile”. Suddenly my visit to Elands Bay had gone from an uninteresting detour to a real awesome morning!
I then jumped in my car and headed out to a location Des had also suggested on the drive out of town – Diepkloof Rock Shelter.
Diepkloof Rock Shelter isn’t well advertised, and I was a bit lucky to run into the farmer on the way in, otherwise I would have been turned away. It is a large cave on top of a small hill on a farm outside Elands Bay. The location is marked on Google Maps, but contact the farm and arrange access in advance – don’t just arrive. The entrance fee is R50 per person, and there is no trail to the cave – but it isn’t too hard, and isn’t overgrown.
According to the farmer, the cave is one of the oldest known rock art sites in South Africa. It has been properly excavated and is currently under consideration for recognition as a World Heritage Site. Also being so rarely visited, it is in really good shape.
I drove from Elands Bay to Clanwiliam to do some shopping ahead of my first visit to the Cederberg. The views of the peaks behind Clanwiliam were rather impressive! The story of what happened next will be in part 3…