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. 

The 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 climbing on sandstone rock.  There are around 400 routes here from slabs to vertical walls and steep overhangs across a wide range of grades.

South Africa also offers plenty of traditional climbing at places such as Mount Everest and Swinburne, as well as remote multi-pitch climbing 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.


Rocklands Bouldering guidebook

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

Buy this guidebook from our shop.