Cape Town Outside

Off-the-Beaten-Path, Guided Day Trips from the City of Cape Town

Take a day trip from Cape Town to see prehistoric cave paintings

Cape Town Outside – your base for unique guided off-the-beaten-path
day trips from the City of Cape Town

Artistic depiction of a trance dance by San painters in the Cederberg
San rock painting of an elephant in the Cederberg
the surfer cave painting in the Cederberg
cave painting cederberg 04

Cape Town Outside specializes in unique day trips and multi-day tours to see, explore and experience the intriguing San bushmen rock art in the place it was painted thousands of years ago. We take you to the Cederberg mountains about 2-3 hours outside the City of Cape Town, South Africa – to explore a series of archaeological rock art sites along a wilderness trail. This a uniquely African experience and should be included on any Cape Town itinerary for visitors to South Africa. This is an art, archaeology, cultural history, and nature-rich experience all rolled into one.


 

A top thing to do in Cape Town

What are African cave paintings?

Where can you see
the San bushman rock art?

How old are the
bushmen paintings?

These prehistoric, late stone age cave paintings, also referred to as rock art, were painted in rock shelters over thousands of years by nomadic San bushmen hunter-gatherers, the first human inhabitants of southern Africa.  


 

The San paintings are found in rock shelters across southern Africa, with a dense concentration of bushmen rock art in the Cederberg mountains outside Cape Town. This is where we will take you. The Cederberg with its strangely weathered, red-hued sandstone rock formations is an incredibly beautiful landscape to walk in. Managed as a nature conservancy, these mountains are  also home to a wide variety endemic plants and animals.

 

The San bushmen have the longest continual art tradition in the world. However, only a few of the rock paintings have been carbon dated. The oldest dated African rock art was found in the Apollo cave in southern Namibia and is more than 25000 years old. A recent find from an archaeological excavation in the Blombos cave not far outside Cape Town revealed a painted flake of stone dating to more than 73,000 years old. We know from the archaeological record that the San inhabited southern African for more than 100,000 years and are presumed to be the first Homo sapiens on earth. Their genetic heritage belongs to all of us, and the fine-line rock art is their incredible and intriguing legacy.

 

Cederberg rock shelter houses incredible fine-line art by San bushmen

We start the day around 6.30 am in the summer and 7.00 am in the winter. I’ll pick you up at your accommodation in Cape Town and we’ll drive up the West Coast through wide open landscapes, rich farmland, and scenic mountain passes, with optional stops for coffee and fresh fruit purchases from the farm stores en route, before heading into the Cederberg mountains at the historic town of Clanwilliam (renowned for its seasonal wildflowers that bloom in August and September – See also Cape Town Outside’s wildflower excursions).  

In the mountains we will spend around 3-4 hours exploring along an easy 4-5 km trail to view a series of rock shelters adorned with San paintings. This gives you the opportunity to experience the art in the wild African landscape where it was painted so long ago. I’ll tell about the San rock paintings – the latest research, the changing ideas on interpretation of the art, the San people, and the landscape in which they lived including the local flora, fauna and geology.  

After the walk, we’ll stop for lunch at one of a number of local restaurant options in the Cederberg – and then make our way back to the City of Cape Town and you’ll be back at your accommodation by evening.

 

The Cape Town Outside prehistoric rock art
day tour itinerary

hook-head male figure cave painting in the Cederberg
San bushmen rock art depicting rhino and antelope in the Cederberg
Cape Town Outside day trip to explore prehistoric rock art in the Cederberg.

What Cape Town Outside provides for the rock art day trip

  • Transport from Cape Town
  • Friendly expert guide
  • Light snacks (fruit and nuts) and water for the trail
  • Permits to access the rock art trail


 

Excluded

  • Lunch is for the guest’s account
San bushmen rockart in the Cederberg
View of the Swartland from Piekenierskloof mountaini pass
Africa’s rock art is the common heritage of all humanity.

Africa’s rock art is the common heritage of all Africans, but it is more than that. It is the common heritage of humanity.

- Nelson Mandela

27000 year old rock art from Apollo cave, Namibia.

These painted stones from the Apollo cave in southern Namibia have been dated to 27,000 years old.

Rates

  • R2200 (about US$150) per person
  • R1900 pp for groups of 3 or more (max 6 people)

This is the painted stone from the Blombos cave - dated to 73,000 years old.

73000 year old painted stone from Blombos cave archaeological site

More info...

 

 


 

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hand prints are quite common jn the San rock art
beautiful erica wildflower is endemic to the Cape Floral Kingdom