Wandering the Widdringtonia wallichii


Loop through a young cedar forest by taking the alternative lesser-walked Cedar Plantation Trail between Algeria and Middelbergvlakte on Daggavliekop's southern slope.

cedar forest cederberg


Seldom can one hike in the mountains that rim Africa's southern tip through cool dappled light and the rustlings of indigenous foliage. Apart from in verdant kloofs and gorges, the Cape Fold soil is not tree-friendly terrain. The outlier is the Cederberg. Only just.

Local Cedars on the edge of extinction.

cedar tree cederberg

High in Cederberg's remote geologic grandeur there evolved vast forests of Widdringtonia wallichii. However, logging mania hit a century or-so-ago, robbing the Cape of a uniquely shaded mountain range.

Still to be seen in high crags, or in a few regenerative projects of small scraggly copses, any remaining cedar trees are in an adaptive time-chase against global heating, and more prosaic events:

hut burned by fire middelberg cedereberg

Fire Too Often

The blaze of late 2020 was allegedly sparked when used toilet paper was set alight up on the vlakte near Daggavleikop and Middddleberg. (The hut pictured above didn't have a roof before the fire, and the main hut is still intact.)

The blaze could also have been more ecologically consequential had it reached the cedar sanctuary, seen on the trail between the Middelburg and the Grootlands - vlakte, a stretch of veld with its own fire-damaged cedars, which is otherwise bouncing back from a fynbos blitz a few years back.

The hike

hiking through cedar trees, cederberg

The Trail

A mostly distinct path, this alternative route between Algeria - Middelberg is looser underfoot than the main trail. Overgrowth sometimes hides clear pathway. Take care. Look out for the old leopard trap near the upper reaches.

old leopard trap Daggasvleikop, Cederberg

Trap on the other side of the trail to where it's marked on the Slingsby chart.

Suggested Loop:

An early start up the main route when the sun hasn't yet crested Middleberg, means that once you've made the hard-walked ascent you will also be shaded by cedars for some of the way down.

Take the main route towards Middleberg Hut. Half way up you'll pass some lovely cedars. LOOK OUT FOR: About 5-10 min walk before getting to the hut there's a newly installed sign pointing to where you loop back down.

Take time to rest in the shade. It's rare forest therapy.


Check out the waterfall. It runs all year.

Otherwise in the hot months, late summer especially, assume that running water will generally be scarce. It's there, probably, somewhere, but be self-reliant.

cedar tree cederberg wilderness area

More on Cederberg's indigenous trees here.

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