Home to world-renowned Rooibos tea and the Cederberg mountain range

by Justin

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Clanwilliam is tucked away at the foot of the majestic Cederberg mountain range, about 230km from Cape Town. Steeped in history, it is surrounded by magnificent scenery and is known for the endemic Rooibos tea which is cultivated here, as well as a wealth of Mediterranean and sub-tropical trees, flowers, fruits and nuts that thrive in the fertile soils. Clanwilliam is also home to the highest vineyards in South Africa that produce award-winning wines from the Cederberg Wine Cellars.

Clanwilliam is the seventh oldest town in South Africa and home to several historically treasured buildings, including the original farmhouse of Jan Dissels, the Old Dutch Reformed Church from 1864 known as the Flower Church, the Old Gaol that was built in 1877, Die Erf and The Rectory. One can also join one of the informative guided tours for a historical walkabout through the centre of town.

Boskloof and Biedouw Valley offer a variety of wildflowers that burst into bloom after the winter rains between August and September, creating a spectacular flower display that draws visitors from far and wide. The Olifantsrivier and Jan Disselsrivier embrace the town that is guarded by the towering Cederberg.

The Cederberg Wilderness Area comprises 7 100 hectares and is a remote, pristine area with breathtaking scenery that includes Cape fynbos and dramatic rock formations. The central Cederberg has some stunning walks ­ Wolfberg Cracks, Wolfberg Arch, Maltese Cross, Stadsaal Caves and Truitjiesklraal, to mention a few. Given this glorious wilderness, you need to be well-prepared both in terms of food, water and sun protection.  It can be fiercely hot in high summer, yet in contrast there can also be snow on the mountain peaks in the winter!

Hiking, scenic drives and spectacular rock formations

The mountain range is known for its classic hikes in the central Cederberg. But there are plenty of great walks in the Pakhuis area close to Clanwilliam. A unique characteristic of the northern Cederberg is that you may easily not see another walker on a walking trail. A popular hike is the Pakhuis to Heuningvlei trail. If you don’t want to hike, then a drive through the Pakhuis pass is a must with a stop to visit Leipoldt’s grave, 17km outside Clanwilliam on the way to Wupperthal (R364). The scenery en-route is exceptional with spectacular rock formations ­Soldaatkop being one of them.

Visit the grave of CL Leipoldt, well-known poet, pediatrician, botanist and cook, or visit the Clanwilliam Museum. Housed in the Old Gaol situated at the end of the Main Road, it has rooms dedicated to famous inhabitants of Clanwilliam, such as the early Khoi and San, CL Leipoldt and comedian, Tolla van der Merwe.


World’s largest open-air Bushman rock-art gallery

In the heart of the Cederberg Mountains is Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat, one of South Africa’s most spectacular Natural Heritage Sites and custodian of the world’s largest open-air Bushman rock-art gallery. The Sevilla Rock Art Trail is a 5km trail that winds along the Brannewyn River and visits nine sites of rock art paintings left by the San people who inhabited the area for thousands of years. The Sevilla Rock Art Trail offers some of the finest examples of rock art in the district and a fascinating glimpse into the world of these early inhabitants.

Bouldering mecca

In just a few years, the bouldering at Rocklands, near the Pakhuis Pass in the Northern Cederberg, has achieved world-class status and every year, top international ‘boulderers’ visit and revisit this bouldering mecca. With upward of 1 500 developed ‘problems’ to test you, the Cederberg offers a bouldering experience that will bring you back again and again. Visitors from around the world test their skills on unique rock formations during the bouldering season which generally lasts from May to August (South Africa’s winter period) when the days are cooler.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing without climbing aids and is generally limited to a height of less than eight metres. Bouldering ‘problems’ offer a mental and physical challenge that requires strength, power and focus to complete successfully. A bouldering crash pad and spotters (fellow climbers who can support a fall) are essential to minimize the impact of any fall. Being in the southern hemisphere, the Cederberg offers the ideal bouldering environment when other world class sites become too warm to climb. The dry sunny winter climate of the Cederberg guarantees many bouldering days.

Rooibos heaven, bespoke leather shoes & water sports

With Clanwilliam in the centre of Rooibos country you can experience a lot more Rooibos than just your ordinary cup of tea. On the Rooibos Route you will find seven Clans to choose from.  Are you interested in the growing and harvesting Rooibos tea?  Then the Cultivation Clan will be your option.  Otherwise you can choose from activities, like horse-riding, history, treats and restaurants with lovely Rooibos dishes, as well as the famous Rooibos Teahouse with more than 100 blends of Rooibos tea.

The Strassbergers shoe factory has been in existence since 1954, a natural extension of the Wupperthal shoe factory established by the Rhenish missionaries in 1834. Tourists can walk through the factory, purchase ‘veldskoene’, or shoes can be custom made and sent to you at a later date.

Clanwilliam Dam is a spectacular body of water, popular for recreational purposes of all kinds. Water sports enthusiasts enjoy weekends at the dam, while the local angling club arranges regular competitions, of which the Bass Classic is probably the most significant. The Clanwilliam Dam is known as the most popular dam in the Western Cape for water-skiing.

Wildflower wonderland

Each year from August onwards, after the winter rains have fallen, the Cederberg area becomes a natural patchwork wonderland, as spring flowers emerge to carpet the landscape in riotous pinks, reds, purples, yellows, blues, oranges and whites. This is the world-renowned annual wildflower fiesta of the Western and Northern Cape provinces and it is a feast for the eyes.

However, the springtime blooms are not all the Cederberg region has to offer in the way of vegetation. Those in the know appreciate the diversity and variety of species, from the tender daisies to the tough and thick-skinned succulents and aloes.

Visitors to the region will notice significant differences in the plant life as they move through the landscape. Four biomes are represented here: Fynbos, Strandveld, Renosterveld and Succulent Karoo. This is attributable to the climate and geology, which change from west to east – it is hotter and drier in the valleys than in the mountains, and the valleys’ shale-derived soil is more fertile than the sandstone soils on higher ground.

Taste Clanwilliam and the Cederberg at the variety of restaurants, coffee shops, teahouses and shop till you drop in the unique gift shops.

Clanwilliam is not only an overnight stop; it is definitely a destination on its own and visitors should spend enough time here to explore and experience the town’s unique hospitality, nature and heritage. From five-star lodges, bed-and-breakfast establishments, to self-catering and a variety of farm stays, Clanwilliam offers accommodation for everyone’s taste and budget.

Clanwilliam…come and experience the 7th oldest town in South Africa and share in all our wonders just off the N7.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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