Gifberg: History in the Outdoors
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Gifberg is the most amazing find, if you love the outdoors, with a little bit of history thrown in. The farm is situated in the Namaqualand at the northern end of the Cederberg. The drive is about 4 hours from Cape Town, mostly on tar roads. After turning off from the N7 you go up the Gifberg Pass, this is quite a steep and narrow pass, but a normal car can probably manage going really slowly. On the farm there are a few chalets to chose from, well equipped and comfortable, there is also a large camping area and a coffee shop. We had booked the smallest chalet, Kliphuis, but for some reason ended up in Rivierhuis. It was much too big for 2 people and 2 dogs, but it was fine, rather too big than too small, I suppose. The kitchen was well equiped, even had a small coffee plunger, and the braai area was nice. Dash was happy, because the house was the closest to the entrance of the farm, so he could keep an eye on everyone.
The farm is an absolute delight for anyone who loves the outdoors. There are multiple different trails ranging for 2km to 21km, all with bushman painting sites. These sites are wonderfully preserved and amazing - making you wonder about how people lived hundreds of years ago. Our first morning we ran the 21km route, starting early as usual to avoid running during the heat of the day. We were there at the start of spring, so the days were already getting quite hot, while the evenings were cool. The run is beautiful, it starts quite flat along the plateau south of the farm buildings, there are 2 bushman painting sites within the first 3km. So if you don't want to do the full route you could do an out and back just to see the paintings. The trail then drops down, following the path of the river. At the halfway point of the trail you run for a little way along the Doring River. The way back is a bit of climbing and ups and downs. There is no water available, and little shade, on the second half of the trail, so make sure you take enough for your 4 legged companions. Also make sure to let the owners know when you are planning to do this route, for your safety.
The second morning we did the Gifboom route, a 7-8km trail that runs to the north of the farm buildings. It is much flatter than the long route and has some lovely flora and rock formations. There are long views over the plateau and this is a great spot to catch the sunrise. There is no water on this route, so make sure to take for the dogs.
On our last morning we linked the 2 shortest routes together, Hamerkop and Spoelgat, this made it about 5km. These routes have more cave paintings and wonderful potholes. One of the farm dogs, a chocolate lab, joined us for the first part and was very sweet. This route has lots of water and swimming opportunities for happy dogs.
Once you are finished exploring the best place to be is by the river. We found a lovely pool to swim in and lie by. The sound of the water trickling through the rocks was so peaceful.
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There are a few such spots to chose from, all with flat rocks to lay yourselves and your picnic out, and lovely cool water to dip into.
We are looking forward to taking another trip here soon, maybe a little earlier in the year to see the flowers.