Clanwilliam is one of the oldest towns in the country, rich in history and with much to offer nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. It was originally called Jan Dissels Vlei but in 1814, the Governor of the Cape, Sir John Cradock, renamed the town for his father-in-law, the Irish Earl of Clanwilliam. The town lies at the centre of several flower and historical routes and is surrounded by farms. The healthy Rooibos or “bush” tea is a popular product of the area.
Adventure And Sport
Clanwilliam Dam Resort: The Clanwilliam Dam Resort is well known to water-sport and angling enthusiasts. The dam is also considered as having the best waters for water-skiing.
Maltese Cross: The Maltese Cross is a magnificent 20-m-high rock formation in the Cedarberg Mountains. The hiking route to the rock takes three to four hours to complete and travels through the Cedarberg Conservation Area. Hikers need permits to enter the conservation area.
Wolfberg Arch: The Arch is a seven-hour hike starting from the farm Dwarsriver that leads to the top of the Wolfberg Cracks. Permits are mandatory and the trail is quite exacting.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve: The Wilderness Reserve in the Cedarberg Mountains houses several San rock art sites, one of which made a significant contribution to scientists’ understanding of San culture. Research is still ongoing and more sites are continuously being discovered. One of the most interesting sites depicts a zigzag line with animal and human figures walking on it. The White Net shelter is also interesting and one of the few places where white paint has been preserved.
San Rock Art Trails: Two farms, Sevilla and Salmanslaagte, have trails leading to some very interesting San rock art sites. The Sevilla Rock Art Trail is the better known of the two. Images that can be seen include red patches, believed to be patches of power that gave supernatural powers to shamans.
Fauna And Flora
Cedarberg Wilderness Area: The Cedarberg Wilderness Area lies east and south of Clanwilliam. The area has been left largely undisturbed and is now under the control of Cape Nature Conservation. The conservation project aims at protecting the Cedarberg Range to ensure the preservation of cedars, as well as of several other endemic species of plants. The Cape mountain leopard has also found a protected home here among the many varieties of fynbos and the distinctive rock formations.
Ramskop Nature Reserve: in August and September a wild¬flower carpet covers the Ramskop Nature Reserve and it becomes a popular tourist spot. Hiking is allowed and camping facilities are available. The Stadsaal Caves feature the so-called elephant drawings, another example of San rock art.
Rooibos tea: The Rooibos (“Red bush”) tea leaf is widely believed to have medicinal powers and is also used in facial products. Rooibos Tea Natural Products offers tours of its establishment.
History And Architecture
National Monuments: Clanwilliam has various historical buildings, including seven national monuments.
DR Church or “The Flower Church”: This church was completed in 1829 and inaugurated in 1830. The church was named the “Flower Church” after the week-long flower festival which is held in the church every year in September.
Old Gaol: This national monument was built in 1808. The original gaol only had three cells. The building was later enlarged and is today a museum.
The Rectory: The building was once the Anglican Church Rectory. It was declared a national monument and is now a guest house.
Wupperthal Moravian Mission Station: The Moravian Mission Station at Wupperthal, is situated about 65 km east of Clanwilliam.
Cedarberg Mountains: The mountains were named for the indigenous species of cedar tree that now only survives on the more inaccessible slopes. Large natural rock sculptures adorn the mountains, the 20-m-high Maltese Cross being unanimously considered the most breathtaking. Besides containing these natural masterpieces, the mountains also contain
many rare indigenous plants and many San rock paintings that decorate the rock faces. Animals found in this mountain retreat include rock hyrax, klipspringers, baboons and leopards.
Observatory: Amateur astronomers operate the private observatory in the Cedarberg. Visitors are welcome to visit and study the southern skies with their stars and planets shining brightly against the clear and dark skies.
Strassberger Velskoen Factory: Velskoene are made from leather and designed for heavy-duty wear. Strassberger Velskoen Factory demonstrates how these shoes are made and also sells them.