Midnight photography in the Cederberg

Posted by Anita Froneman on 9 July 2020

A hiking and photography trip in the Cederberg, cut off from all cell reception and sleeping under the stars was an epic pre-pandemic escape. Unfortunately, the adventure was cut from five days to three, due to the looming national lockdown.

Izithombe Adventures offer a unique, two-in-one experience. Any outdoor-lover knows that adventure and photography go hand-in-hand. Amateur and professional photographers looking for the perfect shot are safe in Damien’s hands.

On the other hand, keen hikers, rock climbers or campers looking to learn more about photography to capture their adventures, will leave with a plethora of knowledge.

Astro-photography is Damien’s forte.

On day one, we arrived at the tranquil Sanddrif Holiday Resort on the Dwarsrivier farm. After setting up camp, Damien Peterson, our guide, took our little group to explore the area. The Cederberg has an abundance of ancient San rock art with some  2,500 discovered sites including the Stadsaal Caves, Truitjieskraal, Southern Arch and Varkkloof.

‘Once I understood my passion for natural beauty, I just knew that I needed to explore it and share with others memories and emotions through the medium of pictures,’ Damien says on his website.

The Cederberg is home to amazing ancient rock art.

After browsing the natural art galleries, a refreshing dip in the popular Maalgat rockpool was in order. A 30-minute walk takes you to this oasis and we didn’t waste time getting into the water.

Settling in for an early evening afterward proved to be a wise choice, as the next two days would put our strength to the test. Underneath the widespread oak trees and with endless patience, Damien showed me the ropes of his camera that I would be using for the trip.

Sanddrif Holiday Resort.

We had an early rise on day two for the 11km hike up to to Wolfberg Arch in perfect weather conditions. The hike is steep at times and not a tree in sight, but the beauty is absolutely unparalleled. No fresh water along the way meant we had to carry all the water for cooking, washing and drinking for the full two days, as well as all our gear. A sturdy backpack is a must.

The start of the hike.

The famous Cracks are a bit of a scramble, but we chose the wider path going up, so we still had some breath emerging on the other side.

Arriving at the top, the first thing I noticed was the complete silence. Far from the madness we call life, there lies a serenity in untouched nature that nothing man-made can replicate.

As the sun went down, the camera shutters clicked. The orange-purple light show over the rockies was a photographer’s dream come true. Our photoshoot was followed by star gazing after dinner which, frankly, leaves Netflix miles behind any day of the week.

We had a stunning sunset in the mountain.

The sunrise didn’t disappoint either.

Seasoned in astro-photogrpahy, Damien has researched at exactly what time the Milky Way will cross the Wolfberg Arch for an iconic photo. We set our alarms for 1am, and it was well worth it.

What a shot!

The next day would be the most challenging part of the hike. Going down the narrow part of the Cracks is no joke. Some parts are so narrow that we had to take off our backpacks, hand them to each other over a huge boulder trapped in what is essentially a cliff and leopard crawl through underneath.

Taking a breather on our way down.

There was climbing and slipping and sliding, and squeezing through some tiny spaces that made the Cango caves look like child’s play. This was repeated a few more times and by the time we got out of the Cracks, there was not a spot on my body that wasn’t covered in dirt.

I’ve never felt more content.

Izithombe Adventures offer a variety of packages to different destinations.

For more information, visit their website or contact Damien Peterson on [email protected] or (+27) 66 226 0119.


Images: Damien Peterson

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