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July 02, 2009

Snowboarding in Ceres

Location: Matroosberg Nature Reserve, Ceres
Distance from Cape Town: about three hours’ drive
Vehicle: 4x4 required
Kit: snowboards, boots and obvious snow gear – gloves, hats, jackets and snow pants – and don’t forget lunch and plenty of liquids.
Cost: tank of petrol, R50 per person for entrance into Nature Reserve and R250 per vehicle.

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It was an early start, but the excitement ensured that we were all on time for the action-packed day that lay ahead. We’d been observing the weather reports through the course of the week to ensure we’d selected the right day. There had been a series of three cold fronts that had hit Cape Town during the course of the week, so we knew there would be plenty of snow. The risk lay in the fact that there could have been too much snow, which would have closed the access road, or the rain could have washed the snow away.

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Saturday arrived and we could not have wished for better conditions – blue skies, sunshine and plenty of white stuff!

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On arrival at the reserve we checked in and paid for our day permits. After an adventurous drive up, which definitely requires some 4x4 driving skills, we reached the three-quarter-way mark, where the snow was too thick to progress without proper tyres, so we had to offload and walk the rest of the way to the top. The drive up depends on the congestion on the track, not your average city gridlock, but rather 4x4s getting towed out of tricky situations and backtracking in order to re-negotiate the tight corners, so allow at least an hour to summit.

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We selected a north-facing slope just to the right of the main car park at the summit. A little icy to begin with, but as the day progressed the conditions improved – the sun turns the snow into slush, which is ideal for snowboarding, or at least for the level that we are at. As my friend reminded us, snowboarding in Africa is not for sissies – no lifts – so what goes down must go up again. Plenty of climbing and the legs certainly get a substantial workout! But one tends to block out the suffering when you are having so much fun – up and down, up and down, and, yes, once more up and down, until your legs can’t anymore!

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What a blast! Keep watching those snow reports and be sure to go with someone who is an experienced snowboarder and familiar with the place, as there are some very dangerous exposed areas. So do take care!

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