Rocklands, this name is a dream to any climber. But a rock trip in South Africa requires to be anticipated and prepared. In this page, I’ve tried to answer the main questions one may have…
Well, if you do ask this question, I think you’re lost and you are not on the website you are looking for ;o) Or you haven’t read anything bouldering related for years…
Rocklands deserves to be called a planetary area! Fabulous sandstone (shapes, colours…), boulders spreaded on each side of a moutain, close to the South African West Coast, not far from Cape Town, one of the best towns in the world…
- View of the Roadside area from the pass
As Rocklands is in the South hemisphere, the best period to go is summertime, from June to August. One may climb during the other months, but, in September for example, the temperature may reach 35°C (95°F) and you will have to get up early and/or climb at night with head torches.
- Roadside by night : Caroline
How to gO ?
From Europe, the most simple is the plane ;o) Several companies have Cape Town as a destination. We have flown KLM through Amsterdam. The price depends on the season and on the company (and on several other parameters I’ve never been able to catch), but the ticket usually costs 700€ or so from France.
A passport is mandatory. Depending on your nationality, and the purpose and duration of your visit, you may not need a visa to visit South Africa. More on southafrica.info.
Bring a pad ?
You are usually allowed to only register one luggage. More will cost you a lot! As climbing is not recognized by the companies who offer to freely carry your golf clubs or your skis, I’ve heard that some climbers do travel with a crashpad and a golf bag full of personal items.
Take care at the size of your pad, if you decide to bring one. The WRAP from SNAP exactly has the maximum size that fits into the Air France plastic bags…
rent a pad ?
De Pakhuys (see later), has used crashpads to rent for 10 Rands a day (1€ or so). This is very cheap but the quality is often, if not always, poor as those crashpads have been leaved by climbers who did not want to bring them back home. You shouldn’t hope to find your main pad here, but a secondary usefull pad.
City Rock (Cape Town climbing gym) has good quality pads for 100 Rands a day (10€ or so). You might think it’s expensive over a long period but just ask your plane company the cost for bringing an extra pas and compare…
Rocklands is 3 hours drive from Cape Town. It is always possible to find someone to share a drive (through the Climb ZA forum for example). But the area is large, the closest town is quite far etc… You really need a car!
If you are rich and love to show it, and if you want to climb every day at Sassies (see the areas below and our attempt to reach Sassies at the end of the movie), you may rent a 4WD. But it will be useless for most of the areas. And you will miss the nice walk up to Sassies!
The advice is to rent your car from a well established company (AVIS, HERTZ or others), even if you may find cheapest rentals with small local companies.
You must be advised that you will have to drive on the left side of the road in ZA, and that most of the rental cars have automatic gear boxes.
You will have all the information on this page. Just have in mind that if your licence is not printed in english, you will have to ask for an international licence. And even if your licence is printed in english, you may ask your car rental company if they do accept licences from the country where your has been issued.
The Rand : 10 Rands = 1€ or so (in 2011).
Various languages are spoken in ZA. Speaking english will allow you to be understood anywhere, even if some local accents are quite surprizing…
Several possibilities in the area. One may camp or rent a cottage at De Pakhuys, the main advantage being that it is close (walking distance) to several beautifull areas. Signs will even show you how to reach them!
- At Pakhuys, difficult to get lost
An alternate way is to rent a cottage at Traveller’s rest. Several sizes, several locations, a tiny shop, a restaurant, and a very friendly host will be found there. Moreover, the cottages are cheap for the size and the beauty of the area! The main drawback is that it is quite far from Clan William (the closest town) and from most of the areas (you’ll have to take the car to go climbing, whatever the area).
- Our cottage at Traveller’s Rest
When we went to Rocklands, in September 2011, work was in progress at the Campground. If that opens again, it gan be a good option because of the location.
Buy, Eat, Drink ?
The closest town is ClanWilliam. One may find everything there : restaurants, shops, supermarket, pharmacy…
How much for climbing ?
You’ll have to buy a pass for most of the areas. Informations at the visitor information center (downtown ClanWilliam, cklose to the big white church).
For De Pakhuys areas, the access is free for those camping or renting there. For the others, you’ll have to pay 40 Rans (4€ or so) to climb.
The rock is one of the best sandstone in the world for me because of the shapes and the colours. It is not so often you’ll find a crimpy sandstone like this one. The main drawback (being an advantage for some ;o) is that the top outs are often very easy without mantles…
- Beautifull 7b at Minky area
Here, the areas range from very small to huge, are spreaded on both sides of a mountain at several heights : one can choose taking into account the weather, the time…
- Kiesl (7a) at De Pakhuys
We have loved the remoteness and beautifull lines of Sassies, the fisrt light at 8 days rain, the classical lines and the density of Roadside, the walk to Riverside, the amazing few lines of Tea Garden, the easy access of Campground. There is no really area that do not desserve a session.
- Sassies : what an area!
One of the best guidebooks in the world will guide you through Rocklands : Rocklands Bouldering buy Scott Noy, which can be found in France at Grimpisme.
Naughty animals ?
Frankly, we would have liked to see more animals! We were there at the end of September, when the day temperature can reach 35°C and we have only seen a snake crossing the road far in front of our car, few baboons twice, and few spingboks crossing the road at night once, despite numerous walks in the bush!
dangerous country ?
Terrible stories are told concerning South Africa. Here, and may be more than anywhere else, some districts are not to be visited. But in Rocklands, frankly speaking, the atmosphere and the guys are nice. Even in cape Town, we have never felt awkward. Maybe we were lucky…
The history of South Africa is complicated and knowing a little bit of it can help understanding the present. I had been advised to read « Dinosaurs, Diamonds and Democracy: A Short, Short History of South Africa », and it was a good advice.
The South African writters are numerous and have often been internationnally distinguished : JM Coetzee, André Brink, N Gordimer… After having red a restricted number of books, I’ve liked « A Dry White Season » (A Brink) and « Disgrace » (JM Coetzee).
What else ?
South Africa is a huge country (well, compared to France at least ;o) bordered with two oceans, that offers various landscapes… Famous parks (Kruger…) may be the most well known attraction. But Rocklands is very far from Kruger (more than 20 h drive) and the parks close to Rocklands are more « zoo-like ». But Cape Town and the area (Cape of Good Hope etc…) are really worth a visit. And for those really into bouldering, there are few areas close to Cape Town, but we haven’t had time to pay them a visit…