Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa

Clan William dam.

Clanwilliam remained undiscovered until the N7 from Cape Town to Namibia was built in the sixties. Now busloads of tourists, on their way north, stop to visit.

Word spread and others started arriving and returning, attracted by a magical lure of this special lifestyle. In the town and district there are several attractive historical buildings, a wealth of rock art and a profusion of birds.

Although it's best known for its spectacular spring flowers, there is more to this lovely town. It is situated between the West Coast and the Cederberg and on the southern edge of Namaqualand. A small museum doubles up as the tourist information bureau and there is a variety of craft shops and art galleries.

The Cederberg is the home of one of South Africa's best loved exports (after gold, diamonds and wine, of course). Rooibos tea originally grew wild in the mountains around Clanwilliam and still does, but now it is cultivated as well.

This tea has become internationally recognised for its wonderful therapeutic qualities, as it is naturally caffeine-free and contains many health-giving substances. You can tour the local factory where it is processed and, of course, sample a range of products.

Clanwilliam is the gateway to the gorgeous scenic Pakhuis Pass. An unpaved road leads over the hills, through some spectacularly rugged rock formations to the small Moravian mission village of Wuppertal and the Biedouw Valley, known for its spring flowers.

Just outside the town is the Clanwilliam Dam and the Ramskop Nature Reserve with its small wildflower garden, which is worth a visit at any time of year, but is utterly spectacular in spring.

As well as the well-known spring flowers, this area is exceptionally well endowed with rock art and it is close to the Cederberg Wilderness Area. There is a short horse trail nearby and a unique luxury game lodge halfway up the Pakhuis Pass. Clanwilliam is about 200km north of Cape Town on the N7. The nearest airport is Cape Town International.

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