This is one of the highlights of any trip to the Central Cederberg. The Cederberg in general is known for is fantastical rock formations, and the Cracks will not disappoint. The Arch itself is certainly the largest such natural beauty of its kind that I know of in South Africa, and stands in an area of great beauty and silence.
Getting there: Drive from the offices at Dwarsrivier to the Sanddrif campsite, follow the road across the drift over the Matjies River, turn right and drive past the campsite, follow the signs up to the gate (you will have received the code when you paid for your permits), continue up the road and park under the trees at the trailhead.
Permits: you need to get a permit (R25 per person) to go up to the Cracks from Sanddrif Reception which is at Dwarsrivier Farm. You can also get permits from Driehoek. As the Arch is on CapeNature property, you need an additional permit if you plan on going there too (the Cederberg Wilderness Area that they manage is divided into 3 Areas: Wolfberg Arch is in Area B).
Difficulty: fairly easy to follow route; some scrambling (can be avoided); can be extremely hot
On a hot day you will be in full sun all the time except when you are in the cool, deep shade of the Cracks themselves.
There is no water on this route at all. It’s a steep climb up to the cracks on a well-marked, easy-to-follow trail.
There are some epic trad climbing routes on the massive rock faces to the left at the summit. If you are lucky you will get to sit in the shade once you reach the top and witness climbers scaling the dizzy cliffs overhead before you head into the cracks themselves to explore like kids as you experience the wonder of the beautifully coloured, eroded rock formations.
You can of course explore the cracks in any way you choose, but I think the standard format is to go up the more challenging right-hand crack and come down the left-hand side, called Adderley Street. Slingsby’s Cederberg map has a diagram inset of the different options. The approach on the right has an odd little scramble up to a narrow ledge, and care must be taken here. if this is not your thing, head into the cave in front of you which will bring you out to the same place on the ledge. Walk carefully along the ledge to the right to get to the entrance to the crack.
Near the top of the crack you will need to climb up and over a tricky chock-stone. The trick is to reach up to the bomb-proof handhold above your head on the right. A short while further you will need to crawl under a chock-stone which is a fairly tight fit. Lie on your back and wriggle head-first, then sit up at the end and pull yourself up.
Once you pop out at the top, you will find a Martian landscape which you must cross to get to the Wolfberg Arch. The trail is fairly easy to follow, and there are signs and cairns, especially important when you return to the top of the cracks and must find your way into them to descend.
It has become incredibly fashionable with the Instagram crowd to overnight at the Arch. As this is part of the Cederberg Wilderness Area, with the appropriate permits, this is totally legit. Even though the terrain is inhospitable at best, the experience must make any discomfort more than worthwhile and it is definitely on my bucket-list!