The Cederberg offers hundreds of rocky overhangs and caves, some home to rock art by the San and Khoi people who inhabited the area from the earliest times. European settlers then starting stock farming here from the eighteenth century. Whilst exploring this part of the world and looking for Rock Art, I always wonder – why that rock, that specific cave, that viewpoint. And not another?
From Mount Cedar where we were staying, I bought a permit to visit the Stadsaal Caves and Elephant Rock Art. A must for any visitor to this area. The famous elephant paintings at the Stadsaal Caves on the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve vary in age between 300 and 6 000 years and are very sensitive to damage. Evidence that elephants roamed freely through the Cederberg many years ago, an idea that both thrills and saddens me.
The Stadsal Elephants below.
This rock looked just like a tortoise, and is called just that.
The large wind and rain eroded dramatic Stadsaal Cave, which translates to ‘City Hall caves’ is the place where members of the then National Party met when they decided to contest the 1948 elections that brought them to power. Its covered in ’respectable old school Graffiti’.
In earlier years the land owning Wagener family and friends with names such as Strauss, Scheepers and Conradie, also left their mark as they past through on their way to dreamed greater things in the then Transvaal and Orange Free State. “HC Strauss” signed his name in 1881 and “IH Fick” on March 9, 1916. Most recognisable of all will be the mark of “Dr DF Malan” who was the First Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, 1948 – 1953.
The dramatic landscape and abundance of open caves and rock formations, multitude of colours and shapes from the ever-present wind, fynbos and blue sky, make it easy to get lost here. Even easier to want to. Among the yellows, reds and burnt orange. As though a giant has scattering his rocks at play, arranging and piling up others. Words cannot describe the feeling, except to say that it needs to felt.