Last Friday we traded city life for tranquil Clanwilliam and surrounding areas. It seems we left at the right time with the cold front approaching Cape Town as the drive along the N7 was frought with heavy downpours and kamakazi drivers.
Upon arrival the rain gave way to semi-cleared skies and crisp winter air. I noticed so many “tall” people floating around the town and was informed that a Netball tournament, with an anticipated 600 players, was taking place that weekend. Armed with this info we decided to head to the Olifantsbos restaurant and pub to book a table. Too late we were told, but if we were prepared to have an early meal then they could assist us. In fact the staff at this local eatery were so hospitable, helpful – even lighting a fire to ensure we were warm, that we stayed to enjoy a meal of pizza and salad.
Our travel party stayed at the Clanwilliam Lodge, which used to be the local school girls hostel. It was converted into private accommodation in 2007, offering a total of 32 rooms. It offers comfortable accommodation, with bar and outdoor pool facilities.
With Clanwilliam as a base, there are several routes and activities to explore. The rock art in the surrounding area is a must see and the Pakhuis Pass will take you to several spots. It is advisable to obtain a permit before you head off on the Sevilla trail, for example, but there are also incredible trails in the area of Wolfdrif. Rock art is also to be found in the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Retreat.
A journey worth making is down to Wupperthal which was started as a mission station. An off-road vehicle is recommended and in time to come the gravel road will be completely tarred. En route you will pass through the Biedouw valley, known for its rooibos tea (red bush) industry. Upon reaching Wupperthal you can explore the hamlet on foot, visiting the leather shoe factory and the Red Cedar shop, which sells soaps, bath oils and hand creams made from rooibos. The Red Cedar project was started as an empowerment programme for the women of the community. Your walkabout will take you past the Lekkerbekkie tea-room with tables inside or out on the small stoep.
A visit to this area is not complete without sampling local wines and even if time does not allow for a visit to the wineries you will find a good selection of local area wine in the restaurants or at the Supersaver Spar in the main street. There is nothing quite like a full-bodied red wine on a crsip, chilly night.