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On Wednesday, January 16th, a lightning storm sparked several fires throughout the northern and central Cederberg mountains.
Mountain Fire helicopter

Report and photos by JP Du Plessis

A lightning storm on January 16th ignited several wildfires in the Cederberg area.  One of the fires started on de Pakhuys guest farm in the Agter Pakhuis valley, but that was put out in a matter of hours.  Some 50km away, however, a second fire raged in Wupperthal, destroying the community’s profitable tea fields and an unconfirmed number of houses.

Over the course of the next eight days the fire spread slowly and eventually made its way past Heuningvlei, into the Rocklands area.  The fire swept through the climbing zone, where it is still burning in places, devastating vegetation throughout the reserve.  A strong south-westerly wind, however, pushed this inferno back into the Agter Pakhuis valley.

Several buildings were raised to the ground on Klein Pakhuis farm, but thankfully firefighters managed to protect buildings on Damplaas and Alpha Excelsior – but don’t be fooled: it was a narrow escape.

Tragically, one person has died – Christo Fourie was driving down the Pakhuis Pass when flames engulfed his car.  He and his workers fled on foot, but Mr Fourie was caught up in the fire.

Update – 25 January 10:00:
The fire is mostly out, but Rocklands is among the 500 square-km of land that’s been burnt clean. The horizon is clear of smoke and we are now able to start tallying the damage in detail.
There is a report on with a general overview of the extent of the fire and the damage caused.

The loss of wildlife is very sad. We’ve only explored a fraction of the burn zone, so we still have no idea what to expect out there. As you say, nature at work, hard as it may be for us to comprehend and understand.

As for the fate of Rocklands: that depends entirely on Cape Nature. They have shut down some areas because of “extreme eco-sensitivity” in the aftermath of some of the fires, I have yet to get word on what will happen with the climbing zone.

See also Fires sweep Western Cape on

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On Wednesday, January 16th, a lightning storm sparked several fires throughout the northern and central Cederberg mountains.  Almost a week later, a fire that started in Wupperthal is slowly creeping up on Rocklands.

The fire is burning on both sides of the mountain pass.  On the other side (at the Old Campsite – Kliphuis Campsite), it is burning alongside the R364.  A fire department helicopter is also scouting the river valley at the eastern point of Rocklands, where the fire has crept into the dense brush at the waters edge.

Report and image by JP

Click here to see more photos on Facebook by JP

Cederberg fire January 2013
Fire as seen from De Pakhuys. Photo by JP Du Plessis
Cederberg abc zone map
Currently zones A and B are open.  Zone C is closed.

Cederberg fire

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Adele McCann
Adele McCann
9 years ago

Apparently Rocklands has been burnt out. Some of the houses on our farm ( upstream of De Pakhuys) adjacent to Rocklands have been burnt to the ground.

Justin Lawson
9 years ago

Eish!! not good (after the last fire at Truitjieskraal it took +- 2 and a half years to be re-opened by Cape Nature).

Sorry to hear about the houses on your farm Adele!!

Andy Davies
Andy Davies
9 years ago

Eish this is very sad, particularly the death of 1 of the local farmers. It may take a while for the area to recover so we may need to be patient and let nature do its work before we go stomping in with our pads.

9 years ago

For sure Andy, Rocklands has been in need of a break for some years now. The area should now be closed.

9 years ago

Sad about Rocklands:'( Thankfully we (all the people that may nolonger go to rocklands) have your (illogic) cool bouldering spot now

Clanwilliam Tourism
9 years ago

We will be negotiating with Cape Nature to find solutions for Rocklands this bouldering season, we will keep you posted.

9 years ago

You will find Solutions for Rocklands at most good climbing stores countrywide.

Justin Lawson
9 years ago

I spoke to Henry at Cape Nature yesterday and this what he told me:

Truitjieskraal is currently open.

Cape Nature are still taking stock of the damage and will have a report available soon.

Area C is closed due to the fire (Dwarsrivier, kromrivier, Sneeuberg, Maltse Cross)
They are having a meeting in the near future to decide on what areas will remain closed.

Area A is currently closed. They put the fire out yesterday and are still monitoring the area.
Area B is open.

Clanwilliam Tourism and Cape Nature will be meeting in the near future to discuss keeping Rocklands open for the upcoming season.

Click here to view the forum discussion regarding the 2013 Cederberg fires

Justin Lawson
9 years ago

This just in from the Clanwilliam Tourism Association

Good afternoon all,

The news you have all been waiting for 🙂 Rocklands will be open during bouldering season!!!

I have just spoken to from Cape Nature, he said they are currently keeping Rocklands closed until they can walk through it to see what the damage is, but because the area is fairly flat it will not take long to recover (they might keep it closed for a month or so but as mentioned above will be open when bouldering starts), a good rain/wind will do it good, specially to wash away the soot/grime off the rocks.
We will however have to get the message out that people need to stay on the paths and not cut across to Rocklands as they have done previous years. If all obey the rules it will lead to a successful bouldering season in Rocklands again in 2013.

A meeting is still scheduled with the owners of guesthouses around Rocklands to discuss the do’s and don’ts so we will keep you in the loop as well.

Have a great day,
Clanwilliam Tourism Association

9 years ago

See…. told you….

You will find Solutions for Rocklands at most good climbing stores countrywide.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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