On October 2nd I posted an article about the Award Winning Hotel, In The Western Cape Mountains of South Africa called the “Cederberg.”  My photo club “Helderberg Photographic Society,” organized an outing there recently; to the mountain that is, not to the luxury "Bushmans Kloof Hotel" I’m afraid.  In all, 6 of us spent 2 days and nights photographing everything in sight.  Rachel Gemmell one of our members wrote a short story for our monthly newsletter, and kindly gave me permission to use her words in this post including the clever title, thank you Rachel.

There is another matter I would like to bring to your attention before we continue with our main story here.   One of our members, Florian Breuer, who also came along on our trip this weekend; just received the best possible news - his image “Baobab & Bicycle” (see below) won National Geographic’s photo competition called “Eye on Sustainability.”  /


Rachel’s tale....
Star Trails in the Cederberg.

As one of the Club’s new members, I was very excited at the prospect of trying to photograph star trails, excited, but not too optimistic that I would meet with any success…!  But spurred on by the old adage ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ I collected Noleen and we set off to Villiersdorp to meet up with Paddy, then on to the Cederberg via Ceres.

We punctuated the long but fascinating journey with a couple of stops at points that Paddy had earmarked as photo opportunities – a stunning field of orange spring flowers, winding tantalizingly through some rocks that were a taste of things to come in the Cederberg.

Movement by: Reg Barichievy

Sunshine by: Rachel Gemmell

Dust Into Dust by: Paddy Howes

Sanddrif is also the home of Cederberg wines, so, first things first, we visited the wine sales and placed our orders for cases to bring home. Noleen’s earlier despondency at having omitted to pack her Weetbix evaporated in a flash at the realization that Cederberg Wines produce her favourite Rose – and very nice it is too!

Florian, Reg and Gail all arrived in time for supper around a roaring log fire, with tactics for capturing our star trails being eagerly discussed. Then, on with the multiple layers of clothing and warmest beanies and, fortified by Cederberg Rose and Brut, out into the profound darkness of the Cederberg night.

Cederberg Startrails 2011 by: Florian Brewer

Sleep was a scarce commodity over the weekend, Noleen, Florian and I ventured back outside before dawn and positioned ourselves by the river to see what sunrise would bring us. We were rewarded by a rich pink dawn spreading down from the distant hills and atmospheric rolling mist rising from the river. 

 River Mirror by: Noleen Kutash

After breakfast we left Sanddrif for the Stadsaal caves and rock formations and the Bushmen paintings just a short drive away. 

Stadsaal and the paintings is a National Heritage Site and justifiably so – several happy hours were spent photographing the different aspects of this site, an appropriate way to spend Heritage Day!

Night fall saw us back in the thermals ready for a drive across to the Cederberg Observatory for a talk and a chance to get a little closer to the mind-blowing display of stars with a look through the telescopes. I think we were all struck by the warmth and friendliness of Dan and Chris, two retired gentlemen whose passion for their hobby was tangible and whose expertise and knowledge were awesome. Anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating venture can check it out at

The whole weekend was a fantastic experience, and I was struck more than ever by our human transience and tiny-ness, on our miniscule planet in this colossal and awe-inspiring universe. BIG thanks to Paddy for putting the whole trip together and to her and Florian for their tireless offers of help and advice, and to the rest of the Cederberg Six for their excellent company over a memorable weekend.