‘Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.’ – Theodore Roosevelt
‘Er, are we in the Cederberg?’
‘Um, I have no idea. It looks like we are in the middle of an orange farm. Maybe it’s up this road.’
‘Yeah, but what if there are hill-billy’s lurking in the bushes?’
And there we were in the middle of a bloody orange grove in the pitch black of the night. We had punched in the exact coordinates that were provided to us on the website and had somehow found ourselves on a lonely dusty farm road off of the highway. According to Google Maps, we had ‘arrived at our destination’.
Upon a quick phonecall to the Cederberg Oasis, the campsite that we were meant to have arrived at before sunset, we explained our situation to the owner who replied back with a hearty chuckle and nonchalantly informed us that their website is in fact shared with another ‘Cederberg Oasis’ and that the coordinates which we followed actually belonged to the other place…clearly. And so the ignition was started and we backtracked Pumba, Ben’s trusty old Landy, towards where we had come from to tackle another 1.5 hours of driving into the night. Something which we’re luckily used to.
Upon reaching the Cape-Namibia highway which is where we initially turned off of, we discovered that we had a rather serious challenge ahead of us. A sign in front of us read ‘Warning: One-Directional Traffic’ and we soon remembered that the entire stretch of road with which we had to turn onto was a ‘Stop & Go’ due to road construction. With bends in every direction blocking any appraching headlights which would indicate the direction of the traffic, our only option was to play a little game of Russian Roulette. We crept out onto the road in the direction that we needed to go, only to round the next bend to discover an uncomfortably large cargo truck heading straight for us and little escape options. It’s times like these when you’re thankful that you are driving a 4×4 as we backed the car into a narrow rocky ditch waiting for the truck to pass. Needless to say, we made it. Beginner’s luck.
Our tired eyes woke up squinting with the sun shining into our rooftop tent that we had set up the night before. We unzipped the ‘windows’ and saw mountains in every conceivable direction accompanied by the peaceful sound of nature, disturbed every now and then by the screeching of the German kids in the campsite across the way. Foreigners.
After a slow start to the day making coffee, showering and attempting to eat what looked like saw dust in the form of instant oats, we headed off into the mountains on the recommendation of our host with all the little secrets explaining the awesome things to do in the area. As drove out of the campsite and followed a narrow dirt track up over a hill, the most incredible rock formations and vastness of nature lay before our eyes, a sight that is rare to find nowadays without any human disturbance. We parked and took a stroll to a place called Theuniskraal in order to find Bushman paintings and a large cave in which they used to seek shelter. We were the only people for miles and we spent the day taking pictures, clambering up rocks and discovering epic caves and landscapes.
That night we got back to a new little home for the next 2 nights, Cederberg’s Oasis 4×4 campsite situated 500m in its own gated area with no electricity or water. After setting up camp, we indulged in a few GnT’s and watched the flames lick the side of rocks in the fire-pit whilst the wood crackled and hissed. It’s such a privilege to be able to camp out in the middle of the wilderness and see millions upon millions of stars dot the sky above us, without a drop of air pollution to cloud our view. That shouldn’t be a novelty you know, it should be something that we are all able to experience, the basics of nature and the simplicity of life.
The next morning Ben and I set off in search of a 4×4 trail. The route which we were directed to drive was not much of a 4×4 trail at all, it was rather a pretty dodgy rocky road which required a high clearance vehicle, although the locals seemed to be doing just fine in their normal cars. The sun was fierce, the tunes were great, and the suspension was a little neck-breaking, however our drive turned out to be one of the most scenic ones that we have done in a while. We found ourselves crawling through tiny little ‘villages’, steep mountainous roads, in between large rock formations and we luckily managed to find ourselves at an amazing waterfall,, okay, it was less of a waterfall and more a stream, however it was lovely to be able cool off after a long hot day of driving, especially as Pumba’s seat covers accumulated a lot of bum and back sweat, pretty gross really. Look, I’m not going to lie to anyone, we did have a cheeky quick skinny dip, some dips were quicker than others due to my slight, not so slight, fear of dark water and frogs, and then we watched golden hour spread it’s warm glow across all the peaks in front of us, the sky glowing purple and pink and the sound of nature doing its thing.
That night as we made our way towards the campsite, we stopped along the side of the road so that Ben could do a star time-lapse. The idea was that we were going to cook up some food and coffee to ward off the chilly wind and also so that the gas light would look top notch in the video, however we soon discovered that our, and by our I mean my dad’s, gas cooker must have fallen off the back of landy as Pumba hastily climbed the numerous obstacles and bumps in our path. Sorry Dad, I forgot to tell you about this, maybe it can be one of those times where we forgive and forget? Let me know.
Ben and I headed up onto Pumba’s roofracks to observe the heaven’s above us. What we looked up at was truly unreal. I have never in my life seen so many stars and shooting stars and satellites accompanied by the deafening sound of absolute stillness. It saddened me however that although we were in a absolutely pristine piece of nature and had not seen anyone for miles, we were still witness to large amounts of rubbish, broken alcohol bottles, plastic, toilet paper strewn in the bushes at the place that we had stopped. The worst part was that the almost all of this rubbish was made by people just like myself and Ben who came out to appreciate nature. I mean, apparently not.
Unfortunately guys, I know that you have heard it over and over again, but we only have this one life and this one Earth, and to live it being ignorant, naïve and selfish is worthless to everybody. It’s so easy to forget this, and it seems like the Earth is a pretty large place for a tiny individual to make a difference, but let me assure you that that’s not the case. Ben and I made a difference that evening by picking up as much of the rubbish that we could find, which filled a whopping big crate and three plastic bags, because you and I, we are advocates of this Planet and every tiny little paper that we pick up makes a big difference. This morning I read in the news that the Western Black Rhino is officially extinct, just like that, and for so long it felt like it would never happen but this morning it did. And I didn’t do anything to stop it, nothing. I don’t want to make that same mistake twice.
That was the only negative part about our weekend, and I’m sorry that I had to bore with you with the details but we can all do with a reminder sometimes! Unfortunately that was our last night before we had to return back to the real world, and it still felt like there was a thousand amazing things that we hadn’t even considered doing. This is the perfect excuse for us to revisit this tiny piece of heaven and discover more of it’s magic and beauty. If any of you guys have been there before and done anything that really stood out, please comment below with suggestions, I would love to get some tips and advice 🙂 And for anyone visiting Cape Town, take a weekend out of your schedule and go and visit the Cederberg. You won’t be sorry!
Watch our 4×4 Day Out Here: