Donkey Cart Adventures
Experience the rich biodiversity and cultural assets of the Cederberg from a traditional donkey cart.The donkey is the traditional means of transportation in the rugged Cederberg Mountains and the people of the area used to use their donkey carts to carry their produce to Clanwilliam. Two Donkey Cart Adventure Trails are available. The shorter one runs between the top of the Pakhuis Pass and the village of Heuningvlei and is called the Heuningvlei Donkey Cart Trail. The longer one is a 3 day and 2 night trail that starts in Wupperthal and ends at the top of the Pakhuis Pass. It is called the Three Day Donkey Cart Trail.
The Heuningvlei Donkey Cart Trail
This donkey cart route begins at the top of the Pakhuis Pass where you can leave your car before embarking on the two-and-a-half hour ride to Heuningvlei. NOTE that the track is rough and that the donkey cart is not a very comfortable vehicle, so be prepared for a bumpy ride. You may wish to walk some of the way. NOTE ALSO that the donkey cart track is subject to serious erosion during heavy rain storms, so it may not be suitable for donkey carts to carry passengers. Please check when making a booking. Choose between a half day donkey cart ride, a full day visit to Heuningvlei or an overnight visit to Heuningvlei. Up to seven people can be accommodated at the guest cottage whilst larger parties can stay in the small dormitories in the Heuningvlei Lodge.
Heuningvlei is one of fourteen outpost villages of the Moravian Mission Church at Wupperthal, the successor to the Rhenish Missionary Society that founded Wupperthal in the 1830s. Twenty five families are currently living here, mainly involved in subsistence farming, planting sugar beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes. The community is also renowned for using traditional methods to produce dried fruit and for organically cultivating Rooibos tea.
This Donkey Cart Trail is a collaboration between the Heuningvlei Community and various supporting organisations. It aims to improve the livelihood of all the inhabitants of Heuningvlei.
Bookings for the Heuningvlei Donkey Cart Trail should be made direct at Heuningvlei Tourism, Tel: 027 492 3070.
The Three Day Donkey Cart Trail
Please note that the donkey cart drivers and guides are not necessarily trained and accredited tourist guides. They are members of the local communities who are experienced in driving their donkey carts and know the local tracks. They have general local knowledge that they will try to impart to you, but generally their home language is Afrikaans and they are not very confident in English.
Please also note that the the accommodation in community-based guest cottages is fairly basic. The group of guests will have to share one bathroom and there may need to be three persons per bedroom. In winter you should dress warmly as there are no electric heaters and not all the cottages have fireplaces in the living room. The catering will be simple but wholesome.
The Itinerary for the Three Day Trail
DAY 1: You need to arrive in Clanwilliam by 10h00, where safe parking for your car will be provided. You will then be transported to Wupperthal for a guided tour of the village by a local guide, followed by a light lunch at the Lekkerbekkie Tea Room. After lunch you have a 4km (2hour) walk through a beautiful kloof, alongside the Tra Tra River, to the village of Kleinvlei for DB&B at the community guest cottage. (There is also a community campsite at Kleinvlei if you prefer camping, but meals will still be provided.) Your luggage will be transported through the kloof to Kleinvlei on a pack donkey.
The Wupperthal Mission Village was established in the 1830’s by Rhenish missionaries from Germany and was transferred to the Moravian Church in the 1960’s. It remains quiet and seemingly untouched by the 21st century, with some villagers still travelling by donkey cart. You may visit the attractive church, the small museum, the leatherwork factory, the rooibos tea factory, the shop for rooibos cosmetics and the extensive cultivated fields nearby.
DAY 2: After breakfast at Kleinvlei you take the 17km donkey cart track up to the village of Heuningvlei, passing through the small settlements of Agtersvlei, Grasvlei, Brugkraal and Witwater on the way. If you ride all the way in the donkey cart the trip will take about 4 to 5 hours, including stops for photography and refreshments. Take note that the donkey cart is not a luxury vehicle and that parts of the track are quite rough. Although cushions are provided it is still a bumpy ride. You may choose to walk part of the route if you wish, though the trip will then take a bit longer, depending on how far you walk. The mountain scenery on the route is spectacular and there are usually a variety of flowering plants to be seen along the way. You spend that night at Heuningvlei on a DB&B basis in one of their community guest houses.
DAY 3: After breakfast at Heuningvlei you take the 12km donkey cart track to the top of the Pakhuis Pass, where you will be collected and transferred down to Clanwilliam for your return home. The carts take about 2 hours for the trip to Pakhuis Pass. This track can be very rough so again you may choose to walk part of the way, in which case it will take about 3 hours. NOTE ALSO that the donkey cart track is subject to serious erosion during heavy rain storms, so it may not be suitable for donkey carts to carry passengers. Please check when making a booking. Once more the mountain scenery on the route is spectacular and there are usually a variety of flowering plants to be seen along the way.
Reservations for the Three Day Trail
Bookings for the Three Day Donkey Cart Trail can only be made by contacting Michelle at Tel: 083 468 8030 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.