It’s not too difficult to see why Ceres is named after the Roman goddess of fertility – leafy green and with seductive come-hither mountains rising up on all sides. The commercial centre is a fairly messy bustle though, bisected, like just about every other dorp in South Africa, by a main street called Voortrekker – God alone knows where our forefathers thought they were headed. From the town, three scenic mountain passes fan out into the hinterland, where you will discover many wonderful pocket-friendly self-catering getaways. Moving away and about 80km north of Ceres, one enters the Tankwa Karoo, a vast open and rugged landscape, with a strong silent soul that will appeal to those drawn to solitude.

Things To Do
  • Undertake one of several possible day-hikes in the surrounding mountains. Some are on private property, others on municipal or State land. As permits are required for most of the walks, Ceres Tourism is your best bet for further info.
  • A half-dozen or so 4x4 routes meander in and out of the surrounding mountains, ranging from easy to the ‘better read the small print on that insurance policy’ variety. Again, the tourism office will steer you in the right direction.
  • If mountain biking is your thing, the Eselfontein Mountain Bike Trail ranks among the best in the country. Offering a choice of three distances (15km, 30km and 40km), the route is 80% single track and intelligently contoured to the surrounding landscape. A bushcamp and a comfortable self-catering house are available for overnighters.
  • From mid-November to mid-January, join the hordes at Klondyke Cherry Farm for a picking and eating frenzy. Join the same crowds in winter for a frolic in the snow.
  • Several scenic drives fan out from Ceres. Drive along the picturesque Michells Pass and pull over briefly at the Toll House, a national monument (and what was once a cosy coffee shop). Continue for lunch at The Mill and Oaks, a pleasant spot on the river. The R303 towards Prince Alfred Hamlet, over the Gydo Pass and into the crumbly and beautiful Koue Bokkeveld, is also well worth the drive, as is heading along the R46, a veritable Switzerland. April is harvest time in the Ceres valley and during this period the roads hang heavy with the sweet smell of apples.
  • The Transport Riders’ Museum is good for a rainy day, highlighting the important role these dapper men played carting supplies over the mountains.
  • Various fruit and veggie factory tours can be arranged for the bored (or open-minded). Contact the tourism office for details.
  • View San Bushman paintings, go for a walk and finish off with lunch at the Klein Cederberg Nature Reserve, about 70km north of Ceres.
  • Ceres has a couple of okay eateries. Sadly, The Belmont Hotel is no longer, together with its flame-grilled fillets smothered in brandied mushrooms and dollops of cream.