Winter in the Cederberg, Western Cape
I’ve visited the Cederberg twice in the last decade and both visits were for work / learning purposes. I can’t really describe what it is that I love about the area – the beautiful night sky, the ‘getting away from everything’ aspect or the stunningly weird rock formations. Whatever it is, it got me making promises to go back and visit the area.
Winter provides the perfect opportunity for locals to explore the Western Cape. Many expensive lodges / hotels and game reserves offer discounted accommodation in the off-season through websites such as Daddy’s Deals and WikiDeals. So, when a very special occasion arose, and my daily discounted bunch of emails pinged in my inbox, it was easy to make the choice to visit Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve. I’ve never been to that particular resort before but the alien looking landscape, accommodation and promise of clear night skies beckoned me. We bought a WikiDeal voucher for 2 nights that included accommodation, breakfast and dinner (half-board).
The email communication with staff was easy. We were worried about the dirt road getting into the area but the staff assured us that we could go with a normal car that had high clearance. We were also told that our specific accommodation type (cave suites) were not self-catering and that we should not bring food onto the premises. They asked us about dietary requirements and for those that are interested, they do offer halaal-friendly (they serve alcohol) and vegetarian options.
Getting there: Cape Town to Kagga Kamma
My mother-in-law is an outdoor enthusiast and regularly goes to the Cederberg. She recommended that we use her mini-4×4 as she felt that we would struggle in our normal small cars. We gladly accepted her offer.
Kagga Kamma is about 250km outside of Cape Town (which Google Maps predicts to be around 3.5 – 4 hours long). There are several routes to get there but we went with the one that the staff recommended. We took quite a bit longer to get there as we made a few stops along the way. We took a different route back.
We filled up in Cape Town but for peace of mind, I would recommend throwing in petrol in either Ceres, Prince Alfred Hamlet or Op die Berg. There is 60km of dirt road to traverse into Kagga Kamma and there is very little around. The last thing you want to be worried about is whether you will have enough petrol to make the trip back!!
I’m not used to driving dirt roads and I’ve certainly not driven so much of it at any one point. Most of the route is okay but there are some hairy pieces such as the steep Katbakkies Pass! Be sure to print out the map that Kagga Kamma provides as Google Maps wanted to lead us in strange directions a few times. The way back felt a lot easier (maybe it was psychological).
So, can you do it in a normal car? Yes – we saw Ford Figos and other small cars out there. I would be hesitant to recommend it though as I feel it would probably put your car through a bit of strain. But maybe it’s up to the driver too – if you’re experienced in driving dirt roads, maybe it’s not too bad. I, however, was thanking my mother-in-law for the whole hour and a bit that we were on the dirt road (in my head, as there’s no reception out there!).
Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve – accommodation
We finally arrived and were eager to get to our room. We were warmly welcomed at reception with details of our room, available tours, etc. They have several types of accommodation – self-catering timeshare holiday homes, cave and hut suites and camping facilities.
The cave and hut suites are close to reception, the restaurant and other amenities. Our cave suite was so cute! It was very small and didn’t have much storage space but we loved the comfortable bed and rock shower. The room also had an AC but surprisingly it wasn’t very cold and we didn’t need to leave it on when we slept.
Be warned, this is the type of place to ‘get away from it all’. There’s no TV and very limited cellphone reception (they give you a wifi voucher for use in the restaurant area but you need to purchase more if you want more). On the Saturday morning, the power tripped a few times because the solar panels were apparently cold. The shower was hot despite that.
They had a continental breakfast available as well as hot a la carte menu. Our voucher covered all the food but not the drinks (other than coffee / tea).
The dinner was romantic and cosy. The fire burned and soft music played. We were able to have a 3-course gourmet meal. I read some complaints on Tripadvisor but I was more than happy with the food served. I think dinner was my partner’s favourite part of the trip – the portions were generous! The staff were also wonderful, friendly and attentive.
Tours / facilities available
Despite there being no TV, there’s actually lots to do at Kagga Kamma. We didn’t make use of the pools (too cold!) but we decided to do 2 tours.
We did the stargazing tour which was magnificent. Our well-informed guide, Jason, pointed out many interesting features in the night sky. Unfortunately, there was some cloud cover but we still managed to see Jupiter and Venus through a telescope. That may have been my favourite part. After the tour, my partner and I sat outside (warm drinks in hand) staring up at the night sky and discussed our place in this vast universe. I’ve been watching astronomy videos on YouTube ever since – it reawakened a childhood interest I’d forgotten about.
In the morning, we did the Rock Art Tour. Kagga Kamma has a rich history related to the San and Khoi-Khoi people. I don’t want to give too much away but I was thoroughly impressed.
There were other nature tours available but due to the limited time available, we couldn’t go on those. I mean, I didn’t even have time to check out the spa!
A free thing to do is to check out the hikes. They have various options but I heard the 4km, although challenging, was the most interesting to do. There are also various areas on that hike where you can find rock art. We only managed to find one but that was mostly because we were pretty tired. We didn’t expect it to take so long and be so strenuous! But, to be fair, I think we were a bit ill prepared as we thought we’d finish it in less than an hour.
My partner and I had an amazingly, fun time at Kagga Kamma. We loved our cave, the staff were great and we enjoyed spending time together learning new things. I wish we stayed a bit longer as we didn’t really have much time to relax. Hopefully, one day again but I have a feeling that I’ll just end up doing more activities if I had more time.
Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve: https://www.kaggakamma.co.za/