The Cederberg Wilderness Area just 200km north of Cape Town is a place to feel the fresh mountain air on your face, hear the call of birds and enjoy views of mountains and intriguing rock formations. Don’t miss the Stadsaal Caves and San rock paintings of elephants that were painted at least 1000 years ago.
Once you’re inside the reserve, the first turnoff you come to will lead you to the rock paintings. Bring a barrel-load of respect with you and remember that rock art is protected by the National Heritage Resources Act, which means fat fines for ruffians who damage them.
Take your time to appreciate these ancient paintings depicting three groups of people and a herd of elephants. Read the info boards and you’ll get a lot more out of your visit.
For black paint, they used charcoal or manganese oxide, and white came from fine white clay, but neither lasts as well as the ochre red and orange. As a result, the humans in the painting look headless, because the black paint used for their heads has faded over the centuries.
The Cederberg mountains are a treasure-house of sedimentary rock, sandstone and shale rock formations that have been eroded by wind and water over millions of years. Some of the most spectacular are the Stadsaal Caves, not far from the elephant rock paintings in the Matjiesfontein Nature Reserve.
Someone should have told them – and the first Nat Prime Minister DF Malan – that rocks that are thousands of years old are more important than people’s egos. Whatever you do, do NOT add your own mark to the ‘historical’ graffiti.
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