Red Letter Day – Get into the Mountains & Surf!

Words & Photos: Kyle Cabano
Rider: Dylan Wichmann
Location: Cederberg, South Africa
Date: Tuesday, December 1st, 2020


This trip began as all classic trips do, last minute! Dylan Wichmann and I have been shooting together quite a lot over the last year, and with my forté being water shots it is safe to say we had extensively shot the home-break option of Muizenberg.

With the year 2020 coming to an end, we had eyes on one more shoot mission before booking off for the year and some much needed family time. The proposition came in the form of an excited voice note from Dylan suggesting that we head to the Cederberg mountains, to a caravan his parents own. Dylan spent his whole childhood visiting the mountains here with his family and now with the introduction of the foil, it seemed there would be some potential to document the first ever form of surfing executed in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. This was the plan.

The Cederberg region is a 300km drive north of Cape Town, leading onto the greater inland plateau. Due to its elevation, the landscape and climate here are much different to what we experience in the Cape, with dramatic rock formations, San rock art, warm dusty air, and ravines and rock pools.

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Three days after first word of the mission, we found ourselves in a fully packed 4×4 on route inland, to the caravan in the mountains. Out of the noise of the city, the mountainous landscapes become more prevalent, and before long the industrialized suburbs are replaced by the rural farmlands and roadside farm stalls.

Approaching the final mountain pass, we made use of the last of our phone signal before dropping down into the basin that is Beaverlac. The campsite where the caravan is posted up is totally off-the-grid and it felt great to be disconnected again for a change, and instead totally connected with nature.

“The key is jammed”, Dylan says before explaining to me that the vehicle's ignition key, which has acted up in the past, is now not turning. Our wheels have seized – the adventure is just beginning! We settle on the fact that we are going to need external services in order to solve the car issue, so we crack an ale, and take a walk to the pool that Dylan believes is going to serve for the first sessions. The pond that Dylan plans to ride is about 15m in length and only 5m wide. To add to the complexity, the “deep spot” is about 2m and the banks are quite slanted. Dylan points to a flat rock near the surface, about ankle deep, he reckons that is the take off.

We returned around 4pm, in time for the late afternoon session. The first attempts were looking a little bleak. At this point it is up to Dylan to figure out his practice, this is more like a beach start than a dock start. After about five failed attempts, Dylan unlocked the take-off and we were on! I quickly rigged up the fisheye lens and dome port, in an effort to see what creative angle we could conjure up in this tiny little pond. The wide angle is really great for these tight locations and makes for some very creative compositions, as seen in the photos when I headed into the overhanging waterfall section. I actually had a snake encounter while swimming in the pond here. Luckily the curious critter just swam right past and I went back to shooting.

Right about the time that the sun was setting, after a good few hours at the main pool, I flew the drone while Dylan did the last few runs of the day. The top shot with a drone is an all-time classic, as it really shows the unique location, 900m above sea-level and busting out a carve! Who would have thought?

As the evening drew in we returned to the caravan to build the evening fire and take in the great outdoor ambience. The following day we spent some time scouting the nearby rivers and waterfalls, looking for any more potential novelty spots, but did not find any with enough depth to them. Perhaps in the wet season. We returned to the original pond and scored a few more runs. This time I chose to do some of the photos from outside the pond, for a different perspective. I moved around to the top of the waterfall leading into the pond and again using the wide-angle fisheye lens managed to frame up an epic perspective of the setup. Dylan did a few laps with some added juice on the turns and we linked up for a few of what I would like to call “The Money Shot”, and my favorite image of the trip! All the way at the end.

A massive shoutout to the legend who is Eddie Wichmann, Dylan’s dad who came to collect us in the mountains all the way from Cape Town. We loaded all our equipment from the caravan and embarked on the journey back to Muizenberg, the only town in Cape Town with “zen” in it… 

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