Houdenbek is a campsite on a working fruit and vegetable farm in the Koue Bokkeveld near Op-die-Berg in the southern Cederberg.
It is a restored monument situated in the Skurweberg mountains. The air is fresh and unpolluted with uninterrupted views of the unique rock formations of the Skurweberg mountains.
We thoroughly enjoyed looking at the rock formations and identifying pictures in the rocks while appreciating the magic of the rocks and mountains. It is distinctive to the Cederberg and a unique experience not to be missed.
Houdenbek farm is just under 200km from Cape Town (just over 2 hours’ drive) and 60km from Ceres.
The best way to get there is to take the N1 to just before Worcester and then turn left onto the R43 to Ceres. In Ceres you turn left onto the R303 to Op-die-berg. You will travel up the breathtakingly beautiful Gydo Pass on your way to Op-die-berg. There you turn right and travel for 14km until you reach Houdenbek on your left. From there it is a brief 1km trip on a passable gravel track to the campsite.
The campsite is situated on the bank of the farm dam and there is only the one campsite – so privacy is assured! Up to 15 people can stay there and you will fit 3 trailers onto the site with ease.
The campsite can only be booked by one party, irrespective of whether your party is 2 or 15.
There is no electricity, but the rustic ablution facilities are fired by gas.
There is a communal seating area and covered lapa with two tables and benches.
The upsized stone firepit/braai is a centre-piece and a definite crowd pleaser. The firepit is surrounded by benches but be sure to also pack your comfy camp chairs. Braai grids and all manner of braai utensils are also provided.
There is a bit of shade provided by a couple of oak trees, but take along a gazebo, especially during the hotter months. Oddly there is not much grass, but the owners are in the process of planting up some areas.
The campsite is ideally positioned next to a large farm dam, but when we were there during early autumn it was at its lowest, 11 meters below its maximum level. This means the waterline was about 50m from the campsite, but during spring and early summer we can only imagine how amazing it must be when the water’s edge abuts the site. Early autumn also meant the water was a bit chilly, but still a great place to escape the midday heat in the crystal clear water. Just beautiful.
For the non-campers there are 2 cottages, Fisant Cottage (4 sleeper) and Tarentaal Cottage (6 Sleeper). The beautiful historic Cottages are located closer to the farmhouse and not within the vicinity of the dam.
To get more detail and to book online, visit the Houdenbek website.
Check-in and check-out is the normal 2pm in and 10am out but can be arranged with the owners depending on bookings. You will get a 4-digit code to enter and exit the farm.
Important Additional Info For Your Stay
- Wood can be ordered when you book.
- The water at the taps is perfect for drinking.
- Braai grids are provided.
- There is limited cell phone reception at the camp.
The shower, toilet and communal wash-up area for dishes are well maintained and hot water is supplied by gas.
We totally looove the shower and toilet. The shower and toilet are separate, built into the rocks with views over the dam and mountains. It is private but still open enough to feel like you are in nature. The shower and toilet buildings blend in with the rock formations and is almost invisible against the rocky backdrop.
The shower and toilet has ample space to pack and hang all your goodies.
Toilet paper is provided but bring some extra.
Activities At Houdenbek
Houdenbek has a lot to keep you busy and active.
The dam is large enough to justify taking along a canoe, especially when it is full.
It has a gentle drop-off, so one can wallow in the shallows, but when at capacity it is 20m deep near the wall.
Surprisingly the dam appears to be void of fish; we observed no fish activity, maybe due to the chilly temperature and low water level. Locals said there were fish, but details were sketchy.
Birding is fantastic, with the Cape Bunting and Mountain Wheatears in regular attendance at the camp. The surrounding fynbos is covered in proteas, which attracts sunbirds and sugarbirds aplenty. At dawn and dusk you can hear the Speckled Nightjar as they make their way from the mountain recesses to the built-up areas in search of insects attracted by the artificial lights; we were even fortunate enough to observe a rare sighting of these elusive birds.
Rock climbing is another attraction to the area opposite the dam, where 15-meter cliff faces provide a challenge to the aspiring free soloists. The climbers we saw were fortunately using ropes, so this is not an activity recommended for amateurs.
The farm also has several interesting hiking trails and mountain bike trails, which provide an opportunity to explore the interesting sandstone Cederberg landscapes. Rock formations here are out of this world, with huge boulders balanced in ways that defy gravity, and look like they could tumble down at any moment.
We spent our time exploring on the farm, swimming and relaxing. There are a number of stunning mountain passes to explore if you feel like a drive out in the area.
We arrived around 5 pm and were greeted by baboons playing around in the campsite. They moved up into the mountain and watched us setup. As the sun set they moved on and we never saw them again but heard them now and again.
At first sight of this location and unique scene we had to just stand back and appreciate this special spot before setting up.
As Houdenbek is a working farm, with the dam as the main water source, it is expected to hear the pump. We got used to it quickly and didn’t find it a major ongoing disturbance.
Houdenbek is magic and whether you are a camper or not, it is worth adding this destination to your itinerary.
Will we be back? Most definitely!
Till our next adventure!