Clanwilliam

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Clanwilliam Travel Guide

Nestled at the foot of the northern end of the Cederberg Mountains, Clanwilliam is a small town with loads to do just on its outskirts. Heading north, the Pakhuis Pass leads to an area of immense physical beauty, with spectacularly rugged rock formations, gurgling streams, tumbling waterfalls and some of the best and most easily accessible rock art in the country.

Clanwilliam, between the West Coast and the Cederberg, is right in the middle of the flower belt so it’s a place of pilgrimage for locals and tourists alike in spring.

The Clanwilliam Flower Festival is held every August, and the small but pretty Ramskop Wildflower Garden showcases the enormous range and sheer volume of the flowering plants found in the area. In the nearby mountains there are fabulous hikes and a great horse trail, both of which offer lovely scenery, rock art, pretty flowers and wonderful streams in which to play. The nearby Doring River offers great white water rafting in winter – if it feels like it. We blame global warming, George W. Bush, non-alliance with the Kyoto accord, damming by upstream farmers, the Illuminati, the Catholic Church, Muslim fundamentalists and pure bad luck, but this once dependable river has not been regularly runnable over the last few years. So it’s a bit of a gamble, but it’s worth doing a trip if you happen to be around when the river’s playing ball.

Clanwilliam is situated on the banks of the Olifants River and the sizeable Clanwilliam Dam, which is a favourite waterskiing, fishing and general water sports venue. The surrounding hills are covered in rooibos tea plantations and orange groves, which waft the sweet perfume of their blossoms over the valley in spring.

The rooibos tea factory, which is a great place to tour, offers a range of rooibos products for sale. As well as the obvious tea in various guises, there is a liqueur and a range of cosmetics that takes advantage of the anti-oxidising health benefits of this multi-purpose indigenous crop.

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