The Cederberg’s Everest moment

Ford’s third-generation Everest arrives before the end of the year. Leisure Wheels headed into the Cederberg to track down Justin Bonello’s latest adventure and ask if the second-gen isn’t maybe the best of the best. Great time of the year for it.

By Peter Frost

It’s citrus season up the West Coast at the moment. At the petrol station outside Citrusdal, opposite Petersfield on the N7 to let down tyres, the pockets of naartjies are just R12 a bag. The fragrance is everywhere, the clean, sweet smell of fruit-for-export a constant reminder that every season has both its fruit and its colour. Right now the colour is orange, obviously, but head on into the deeper Cederberg and the hues turn to purple and pink. The scrub is flowering, acres of purple among the flowering proteas and ericas. It’s a wonderland, what those in the know call the secret flower season. While the townies wait patiently for Namaqualand to do its thing and light up in late August, the clever souls head out now for a spectacle of another kind.

Heading to the Bonellos

There’s never an excuse necessary for a Cederberg trip, but we had one anyway – to find out how Justin Bonello’s new adventure is turning out. Justin is of course one of South Africa’s best-loved cooking heroes, author of a raft of excellent culinary books, his focus on being outdoors, using what’s around and staying local. His latest project is Red Cederberg Escapes, the farm he has leased in the mountains. There’s accommodation on the farmstead, in cottages and at bush camps further away. But best of all, he’s starting a kitchen which will host special food evenings. The plan was to pop in and see how it was going.

Right at Algeria

But first the routing. Out on the N7 – the roadworks between Malmesbury and Moorreesburg are ongoing but not overly irritating – turn right at the N7 Algeria turnoff between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, head up the dirt Nieuwoudts Pass (no problems), Cederberg Pass (tarred, spectacular) and across the Sanddrif plains on to Matjierivier. Here you turn left towards Wuppertal and Red Cederberg Escapes is a few kilometres down the road.

Ford Everest Limited

Ford’s second generation full-sized SUV is in runout before the launch of the all new third generation towards the end of the year. It’s common knowledge among those smart enough to work it out that the end of a generation is the ideal time to buy a unit; all the bugs have been worked out and there are plenty of special offers available as dealers shift stock, preparing for the new iteration.

The second-gen Everest was always good, and the facelift in 2021 added to its allure. New active and passive safety features, better interior detailing, upgrades to the infotainment and subtle refining of the chassis mean it’s a properly sorted dirt roader with excellent on-road manners. In the Cederberg the switch from tar to dirt, fast to slow was seamless, underscoring the excellent Ranger architecture. Most useful of all is the long travel suspension, a boon in the rollercoaster dips of the Sanddrif region.

The Limited version here – which uses the two-litre bi-turbo engine rather than the 3.2TDCi unit – does away with the sensible dirt road friendly 265/60 profile tyres on the XLT in favour of more tar-friendly 265/50 Goodyears. Reason to worry? Apparently not – much abuse was thrown at them and no disasters. Still, we’d opt for the (optional) higher profile to be safe, if weekend jaunts are going to be a regular thing.

Red Cederberg Escapes

And so to Red Cederberg Escapes. The old farm, Keurbosfontein, sits in a valley, thatch, white walls and ancient oaks giving it something of a Stellenbosch vibe. But it’s more granular than that; you can feel the history – the stories haven’t been whitewashed away. The farmstead itself is available to rent as a single unit and they’re currently working on the Waenhuis, a new, two-person stay that was, naturally, the old wagon room. It features the original cedar feeding trough, restored but not over-restored. Elemental, like the rest of the farm. For other accommodation options across the farm, see the website,


Most intriguing of all is Justin’s upcoming farm food series. He and his son, Daniel are putting the finishing touches to the barn that will house the evenings. It’s a special place; a long table, open wood burning fire at one end, kaggel at the other, and on either side, lining the walls, collected items, mostly from the old farm, each telling a story. The idea is that groups will gather, food will be made, stories will be told. In September David Bristow, ex-Getaway editor and author, will join forces with Justin to host Food*Play*Write, a weekend of words, food and hopefully, flowers.

Back through Ceres

Recce done, the Everest headed back to Cape Town through the Koue Bokkeveld, Op Die Berg, Gydo Pass and Ceres. The Cape’s mix of roads is world-class, few places on earth offering as much variety in such a small area. Falling off the mini-escarpment that is Gydo, the thought was that it’s a region you definitely need a car for all seasons. Dirt-roader, tractor, bus, sportscar. The Everest Limited ticks three of those boxes. Maybe, maybe we wait for the new three-litre at the end of the year to tick the last one.

Ford Everest 2.0Bi-Turbo 4WD Limited

Power: 157 kW 500 Nm

Transmission: 10-Speed automatic

Ground Clearance: 225 mm

Towing Capacity: 3,100kg

Price: R877 300