Citrusdal to West Coast | 300km

Citrusdal to the West Coast.

Citrusdal

Situated along the upper reaches of the Olifants River Valley, Citrusdal is bounded in the west by the Olifants River mountains and by the Cedarberg range to the east. The area was first explored in 1660 by the Dutch soldier Jan Danckaert and farmers began settling in the fertile valley in 1725. Citrusdal is the centre of the country's third-largest citrus-producing area, and accounts for about 14 per cent of the total crop. It is especially noted for its navel and Valencia oranges, grown by about 200 farmers in the area.

The valley also has a tradition of winemaking going back more than two centuries, and produces a wide range of red and white wines, as well as dessert wines and wine for brandy. Citrusdal is also known for its hot springs, The Baths, located 18 km south of the town. A military post was established at the hot spring in 1739, and thatched bathing huts were built for visitors. The water emerging at the surface has a temperature of 43 ░C and contains potassium, sodium, chloride and magnesium.

Accommodation on your South African holiday ranges from fully equipped chalets and flats to campsites, while amenities include hot and cold swimming pools, spa baths and a range of recreational activities. In recent years, Citrusdal has become popular with skydivers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Ramskop Nature Reserve

This 70-ha nature reserve on the banks of the Clanwilliam Dam is especially attractive in August and September. It is a spectacular sight on your self-drive South African holiday when the wildflowers burst into bloom. Within the reserve is the Clanwilliam Wildflower Garden 2, a 7,5-ha landscaped garden where over 200 species of plants are cultivated. Visitors can view the garden and the reserve along a 1,5-km circular wildflower trail, which leads to a viewpoint affording splendid views over the dam, the rugged Cedar Mountains and the Olifants River Valley.

Clanwilliam

...is synonymous with rooibos tea, the Cedarberg Wilderness Area and velskoene (handmade leather shoes). The town is the centre of a region where farmers cultivate the indigenous rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), the leaves of which are used to make a healthy, caffeine-free tea. Set against the backdrop of the rugged crags and buttresses of the Cedarberg's Krakadouw peaks, Clanwilliam lies between the Olifants and Jan Dissels rivers.

Initially named Jan Dissels Valley, it was renamed in 1814 after the Earl of Clanwilliam, the father-in-law of Governor Sir John Cradock. The town's annual wild flower show is held towards the end of winter in the old Dutch Reformed Church (1864). About 360 species of flora are displayed and there are also concerts and a street carnival. Other historical attractions include the St John's Anglican Church, a beautiful dressed-stone building dating back to 1866, and the old gaol, with its simple Georgian fašade.

Built in 1808 as detention barracks for the British garrison stationed here, the building was later converted into a civilian gaol and now serves as the town's museum and information centre. At Clanwilliam Dam, the water backs up as much as 22 km behind the dam wall. The dam is popular with watersport enthusiasts and is rated as one of the best spots for water-skiing in the Western Cape.

Graafwater

...owes its name to the fact that water could only be obtained here by digging wells or drilling boreholes. The settlement was established after the railway line between Cape Town and Bitterfontein was built in 1910. After good winter rains, the sandveld to the south of Graafwater is transformed into a colourful tapestry of spring flowers. Among the flowering splendours are the yellow rapuis (Euryops), a variety of daisies, sporrie (Heliophyla), mesembs or vygies and viooltjies (Lachenalia).

Lambert's Bay

Also known as the Rock Lobster Capital of South Africa, Lambert's Bay is a picturesque South African holiday and fishing village 1. It is known for its open-air seafood restaurants and thousands of seabirds. Just offshore, Bird Island is home to between 4 000 and 6 000 breeding pairs of Cape gannet (Morus capensis) 4. The island was connected to the mainland by means of a breakwater in 1959.

Bird Island is one of only six breeding colonies of the Cape gannet in the world, while large numbers of Cape cormorants (Phalacrocorax capensis) and a small population of African (Jackass) penguins (Spheniscus demersus) also breed on the island. Close-up views of the gannets can be had from a hide which has one-way reflective glass at ground level and an open viewing window on the first floor.

Other facilities include a small theatre where visitors can watch an educational video, a pool with captive penguins, an aquarium, a small museum devoted to the guano industry and a coffee shop.

Elands Bay

Like most other West Coast towns, Elands Bay originated as a fishing village, and gradually developed to the north of the harbour. Overlooked by the Bobbejaansberg to the south, and with white sand dunes forming an impressive backdrop to the east, Elands Bay is a pretty village which depends largely on the crayfish (or rock lobster) industry for its economic well-being.

The long stretch of beach, with its fast and powerful left-breaking waves, ranks among the best surfing spots in the country. An abundance of seafood and its spring flowers 5 are other attraction forá visitors who flock to this resort.

Verlorenvlei

With a length of about 13,5 km and a width of 1,4 km, Verlorenvlei is one of the largest natural wetlands along the West Coast and one of the few coastal freshwater lakes in South Africa. Although connected to the sea via a narrow channel, the vlei only overflows into the sea during the rainy winter months. Extensive reedbeds fringe the vlei, which has a bird list of over 189 species. Among these are white pelican, greater and lesser flamingo, a variety of duck species and marsh harrier.

The name Verlorenvlei is derived from Verloren Valleij ('lost valley'), the name of the farm granted to a Dutch settler in 1723. One possible explanation for the name is that it refers to the farm's isolated location. Another possibility is that it refers to the way in which the water loses itself among the reeds.

Redelinghuys

...situated at the head of the Verlorenvlei, was founded in 1866 and named after JN Redelinghuys, who donated part of his farm, Wittedrift, to the Dutch Reformed Church. A condition of the land grant was that no liquor was to be sold. The little village was established here in 1906.

Piekenierskloof Pass

The formidable barrier presented by the Olifants River Mountains, originally known as the Groote Clooff (Large Kloof), was first crossed on 7 December 1660 by a Dutch soldier, Jan Danckaert. In 1675, a band of Khoikhoi raiders escaped across the mountains because the pursuing commandos were weighed down by their heavy pikes. Following a report to the Council of Policy in 1739, a military post was set up to defend Swartland farmers against Khoisan attacks and the name Piekenierskloof (piekenier means a guard armed with a pike) became established. It was not until 1857 that Thomas Bain began building a road through the pass. Completed the following year, it was named Grey's Pass, after the British Governor, Sir George Grey. When the new pass was built higher up the mountain slopes, it was given its original name.

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