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Around 200km (124 miles) north of Cape Town lies the Cederberg Wilderness Area. This hikers' paradise features majestic jagged sandstone mountains that glow an unearthly deep red at sunset; strange-shaped rock formations that dominate the horizon; ancient San (Bushmen) rock-painting sites; burbling streams in which to cool off; a variety of animals, such as baboon, small antelope, leopards and lynx; and rare mountain fynbos such as the delicate snow protea and gnarled Clanwilliam cedar. You can drive to a number of spots, but the best way to explore this area is on foot.

In keeping with its "wilderness" designation, there are no laid-out trails, though maps indicating how to reach the main rock features -- the huge Wolfberg Arch and the 30m-high (98-ft.) Maltese Cross, as well as to the two main Cederberg peaks -- are available. Covering 710 sq. km (277 sq. miles), the Cederberg Wilderness Area is reached via a dirt road that lies halfway between the towns of Citrusdal and Clanwilliam. Of the two, the pretty town of Clanwilliam is the more attractive base, with a few attractions of its own, including the country's main Rooibos tea-processing factory, the Ramskop Wildflower Reserve, and a spectacular drive to the nearby Moravian mission station of Wupperthal. You can camp in the Cederberg or book a self-catering chalet through Cape Nature Conservation (hikers be warned: visitor numbers are strictly limited, so book early); but if you don't want to rough it and are interested in rock art, look no further than the ultraluxurious Bushmans Kloof, northeast of Clanwilliam.