If you’re looking to explore the greater Cederberg region, Clanwilliam might be the perfect place to base yourself. Clanwilliam is a small town in the Olifants River valley in the Western Cape, South Africa, and lies about 200 kilometres north of Cape Town. Being surrounded by various tourism routes, you can rest assured that adventure will find you.
The Cederberg mountain region is the only place in the world where you will find Rooibos growing naturally. Clanwilliam is known as the Rooibos capital and is a great place to experience this unique and healthy South African product first-hand.
The Rooibos Route, launched on 14 August 2014, offers a wide variety of different Rooibos experiences – a unique way to learn more about this interesting plant. From cultivation and history to activities and treats, there’s something for young and old to enjoy. You can also plan your own trip and enjoy all of this at your own pace. Visit their website to plan your custom-made Rooibos Route – www.rooibos-route.co.za
Northern CederbergThe Northern Cederberg is filled with hidden gems, wonderful hikes and even rock climbing spots for the adventurous at heart. “If you’re heading to the Northern Cederberg, a visit to the Khoisan Kitchen is a must. Visitors will thoroughly enjoy their excellent menu, especially the venison. Another hidden gem is the small settlement of Heuningvlei,” reveals Rika Potgieter, chairwoman at Clanwilliam Tourism.
Depart from Clanwilliam on the R364 in the direction of Calvinia and Wupperthal. After about 18 kilometres you will reach a sign that reads C.Louis Leipoldt’s Grave, where you will find the grave of the famous poet who grew up in Clanwilliam. Remember to keep an eye out for the rock art paintings on the site.
Driving further along the road you will see the Cape Nature campsite, Kliphuis, on your right. Here, permits can be obtained for the hikes situated in the northern parts of the Cederberg. Permits can also be obtained for Rocklands, the mecca for rock climbing or bouldering. A few kilometres further down the R364, on top of Pakhuis Pass, is the starting point for the Heuningvlei Donkey Cart trail with the most beautiful scenery. Bookings are essential and can be done through Heuningvlei Tourism. Call them on 027 492 3070 for more information. The well-known rock climbing site Rocklands, mentioned earlier, is on the same route.
From there, continue for about 8 kilometres until you see a sign reading Pakhuys Winery & Olive Oil. You can go on a tour through the cellar and also do some wine-tasting as well as olive oil tasting. Next to them is De Pakhuys, a farm completely transformed over the years to accommodate rock climbers. They have a variety of walks on the farm, including one leading you up to an amazing waterfall.
Continue driving for 10 kilometres until you see a bunch of country flags on your right. You have now reached Traveller’s Rest Farm Stall & Restaurant where you can get a permit (R40 per person) for the famous Sevilla Rock Art Trail. The trail is 2,5 km long (one way) and there are nine rock art sites to be visited. After the hike you can relax at the lovely farmstall and order something tasty from their menu. Make sure you leave some space for their delicious home made Amarula cake.
After another 19 kilometres on the R364 towards Wupperthal you will find the Biedouw Valley, a must-visit during flower season. Finally, you’ll reach the Moravian mission village, Wupperthal. Here you can visit the shoe factory, the Rooibos tea factory and the Rooibos soap factory, Red Cedar. From Wupperthal you can either come back to Clanwilliam or you can drive the 4×4 route via Eselsbank towards the Southern Cederberg.
Keen on hiking, flowers and wine tasting? Then the Southern Cederberg will absolutely delight you. “Visitors will really appreciate all the different hiking trails and the rock art at the Stadsaal Caves is a phenomenal sight. A visit to the wine cellar at Dwarsrivier is a must,” adds Rika.
Depart from Clanwilliam on the Old Cape Road in a southern direction passing the Information Office. Drive for about 8 kilometres and turn left at the Cederberg sign. Continue until you get to Algeria. Look out for flowers during the flower season. To wander into the mountains you’ll need a permit which you can obtain from Algeria forest station. There is a short hike of 3 hours to some beautiful waterfalls.
Drive 30 kilometres further south and you will get to the Dwarsrivier farm where you will find the Cederberg Wine Cellar. This is the highest cellar above sea-level in Southern Africa. They also have an observatory which is only open on Saturdays, weather permitted. Bookings are essential, contact them on 027 482 2825 for more information or visit their website – www.cederbergwine.com. At the cellar you can have a taste of their splendid wines.
From there you can go on the worldwide-known hiking trails to view the Maltese Cross (4 to 5 hours), Lot’s Wife and Window Rocks, as well as the Wolfberg Cracks (4 hours) and Wolfberg Arch (8 hours). You can also visit Truitjieskraal and the Stadsaal Caves with its elephant Bushman paintings a few kilometers from Dwarsrivier. Permits for all the above can be obtained at Algeria or at the Dwarsrivier farm. From there you can go to Ceres or you can go on a circle route through the Cederberg towards Wupperthal if you have a 4×4 vehicle.
Route to Lambert’s Bay
“The route from Clanwilliam to Lambert’s Bay is dotted with tea farms where excellent information about Rooibos is given and where tea can be tasted, such as Elandsberg Eco-tourism, Skimmelberg and others. Bookings are essential. There are also a few historical sites worth visiting like the Heerenlogement Cave, one of South Africa’s oldest caves,” explains Rika.
Depart from Clanwilliam on the R364 to Lambert’s Bay and drive for 12 kilometres until you reach Ysterfontein guest farm. Here you can go on a Rooibos tour (big groups only), which include the plantation and drying yards. Afterwards you can enjoy a nice cup of Rooibos tea or ice tea. Bookings are essential and you can contact them on 027 482 2512 or visit www.ysterfontein.co.za.
Continue for 3 kilometres and turn right at the Skurfkop turn-off. Drive for 3.3 kilometres to the Elandsberg Eco Reserve. From here you can depart on a Rooibos tour that includes rock art, beautiful rock formations, the Rooibos tea plantation, nursery and factory. After the tour you can enjoy a nice cup of Rooibos tea and view the different products in their shop. Traditional meals are also offered by prior arrangement. Contact Chris or Annette on 027 482 2022 or visit www.elandsberg.co.za.
Drive back to the R364 and turn right to go to Graafwater. At Graafwater turn right to go into town and drive straight through town for about 16 kilometres to the Heerenlogement, an overhanging cliff that was used as an overnight stop for the Settlers. Close to the Heerenlogement is the Zink fort that was used to stop the Boer soldiers.
Continue from there on a circle route towards Lambert’s Bay or make your way back to the R364 and turn right towards Lambert’s Bay. Here you can visit Bird Island, home to a colony of Cape gannets. You can walk to the island or go by boat. For traditional meals and seafood in open-air restaurants you can book at either Muisbosskerm (027 432 1017), which is situated on the beach, 5 kilometres south from Lambert’s Bay, or Bosduifklip (027 432 2735), situated 12 kilometres before Lambert’s Bay on the R364.
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