Climb Europe

Rock climbing in South Africa

There are many different places to go rock climbing in South Africa, with lots of solid rock that is of great quality.  The climbing is often set in beautiful settings and offers the opportunity to go somewhere different and adventurous for a rock climbing holiday. 

Western Cape Rock Climbing GuidebookThe best sport climbing areas in South Africa are to be found at Waterval Boven and Montagu.  Waterval Boven is just a few hours’ drive from Johannesburg with the climbing on bullet hard quartzitic sandstone rock.  These orange walls provide routes with crimpy edges and positive side pulls.  In total there are over 900 single pitch routes across a wide range of grades.  Montagu is around a 2 hour drive from Cape Town, and there are many crags that offer a lot of varied sport climbing on sandstone rock.  There are around 400 routes here from slabs to vertical walls and steep overhangs across a wide range of grades. The sport climbing at Montagu is covered in the Western Cape Rock Climbing guidebook that is available to buy from our shop.

Other climbing areas include places such as Mount Everest and Swinburne, as well as remote mountaineering in the Drakensberg Mountains. There is even some sea cliff climbing at Morgan Bay.  However, it is the bouldering at Rocklands that is turning into a world-famous destination that is attracting climbers from all over the world.

Map of the major rock climbing areas in South Africa

Map of the major rock climbing areas in South Africa

Rocklands Bouldering in South Africa

Situated 250km north of Cape Town in the Cederberg Mountains is the world famous bouldering area of Rocklands. Located around the Pakhuis Pass, close to the town of Clanwilliam, this isolated and pristine bouldering area is attracting climbers from all over the world.  This is due to the large number of bouldering areas, its diverse range of sandstone and interesting shapes that offers varied bouldering styles at every grade. 

The bouldering is located in the beautiful Cederberg Wilderness area (a type of National Park) providing striking red, grey and black sandstone boulders set against a blue sky and surrounded by wild flowers – a truly magical place to climb. The bouldering is concentrated in three main areas:

  1. Pakhuis incorporates all of the areas on the Clanwilliam side of the Pakhuis Pass.
  2. Agterpakhuis (beyond Pakhuis) features all of the areas beyond the pass.
  3. Wupperthal Commanage all the land owned by the church of Wuperthal, including the  Biedouw Youth Camp.

Rocklands Bouldering logistics

Rocklands Bouldering guidebookPermits. As the area is in the Cederberg Wilderness area all climbers will require a permit to climb that varies from area to area.  Details of how to obtain these permits and which ones are required can be found in the Rocklands Bouldering Guidebook, which is available to buy from our shop.

Best time to go. The best time to go bouldering at Rocklands is in the African spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May).  The winter can also be good (May to September) though it will be quite cold and sometimes wet.  The African summer is just too hot. 

Accommodation and travel. The closest airport is at Cape Town and the drive to Rocklands will take about 3 hours. It is advisable to hire a car and drive to Rocklands as the bouldering is spread out along 20km of road. There is a wide variety of accommodation options to choose from, including basic camping, self-catering cottages through to high end hotels.  The Kliphuis camping area is located in the Pakhuis area and is a popular place for climbers to stay.

Western Cape Rock Climbing Areas

The area around Cape Town offers a significant number of good sport climbing areas, across a variety of different rock types, with routes to suit climbers of all abilities. Find out more...

  • Western Cape Rock Climbing GuidebookThe Cape Peninsula is blessed with a string of good quality sandstone and quartzite crags, such as the Silvermine crags, Trappieskop, Peer’s Cave, The Mine, and The Hole.  There is also a good range of traditional routes on Table Mountain itself.
  • Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town are scenic crags such as the beautiful granite domes of Paarl, and the lonely and atmospheric Hellfire crags dwarfed by the huge Du Toit’s Peak.
  • Above Kleinmond, a seaside village, there is a cluster of charming quartzite crags.
  • Montagu is one of the best sport climbing area in South Africa, with around 400 routes on good quality sandstone rock.
  • Oudtshoorn is South Africa’s only limestone crag.  This is a beautiful, steep, scooped amphitheatre dripping with tufas, where the country’s hardest routes are found.
  • The Garden Route is one of the most scenic parts of South Africa, taking in the spectacular southern Cape coastline to the east of George.  The climbing is fairly varied, but seldom steeper than vertical, and offers some interesting locations, particularly the Old Forest Crags.
  • Cederberg has plenty of sport routes and traditional routes on sandstone rock.  Whilst the Rocklands area is famous for the bouldering these routes are also very good.

All of these crags (and many more) are covered in the Western Cape Rock guidebook that details over 1,350 routes.  Buy this guidebook from our shop.


Rocklands Bouldering guidebook

The Rocklands Bouldering guidebook describes the bouldering to be found at Rocklands in South Africa.

Western Cape Rock Climbing Guidebook

The Western Cape Rock guidebook details over 1,350 sport routes around Cape Town

Buy these guidebooks from our shop.