12 places worth seeing in Clanwilliam

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 10 September 2013

Clanwilliam is one of the ten oldest towns in South Africa, having first being called Jan Disselsvalleij and later changed to Clanwilliam in 1814 by Sir John Cradock who named the town after his father-in-law, the Earl of Clanwilliam. It’s well-known for being the Rooibos capital of the world and for the annual Clanwilliam Wildflower Show in September, but there are also plenty of other things to do and see.

Below are 12 places that are well worth a visit when you are in the town.

1. Desert Rose Farm Stall on the N7

The Desert Rose Farm Stall is not actually in Clanwilliam itself, but is worth a stop en-route to the town along the N7 at the Koringberg turnoff. It’s full of all sorts of delightful and creative décor and even the menu is cheerfully decorated. Usual farm stall fare is on offer, including burgers, toasted sandwiches, filled pita breads, scones, muffins, pies with chips, pancakes and salad options. Breakfast is also available all day. If you’re travelling with little ones, there’s a jungle gym to keep them occupied. Tel 082-884-8714.

2. Rooibos Ltd

Clanwilliam is the Rooibos capital of the world, with Rooibos Ltd producing 4-billion tea bags-worth of Rooibos tea a year. Visit the factory on Rooibos Avenue and watch a free audio visual presentation where you’ll learn about the history of Rooibos tea production and the process while sipping on a cup of Rooibos tea. You can also purchase Rooibos products. Tel 027-482-2155, email [email protected], www.rooibosltd.co.za.

 

3. The Rooibos Tea House

Sit on the stoep or in the garden and enjoy a cuppa at The Rooibos Teahouse at NetMar, the only tea house of its kind in the world. Have an hour-long tea tasting where you can smell, taste and drink five different teas of your choice while learning about the history of Rooibos and the tea-making process. A pot of Rooibos tea with a side serving of cake is also an option. Shop for Rooibos teas and gifts while you are there, or order them online here. Tel 027-482-1007, email [email protected], www.rooibosteahouse.co.za.

4. The Old Gaol (Ou Tronk) Museum

If you are interested in learning about the history of Clanwilliam, visit the Old Gaol (declared a National Monument in 1979) which houses an interesting collection of items, including the original telephone exchange that was used in the town until 1995. My favorite finds were a Cape Argus from 1896 and a mustache teacup! Unfortunately the museum is closed over weekends and public holidays, but even more worrying is that the museum may close if visitors stop going there. Entrance is only R10 and well worth a look-see. Tel 082-808-2251

5. The Yellow Aloe

This bright and cheerful coffee house (and guesthouse) serves breakfast, teas and lunch. Apart from serving delicious meals with free Wi-Fi and a lovely view of the Cederberg mountains, it’s one of those country-style places that’s filled with pretty plants, mosaics, uplifting messages on the walls and all manner of crafts and trinkets. I particularly loved the herd of wire sheep on the lawn complete with a mini windmill. They also have a garden shop where you can buy plants and gifts. Tel 027-482-2018, [email protected], www.yellowaloe.co.za.

Book a stay at The Yellow Aloe Guesthouse

6. Reinholds Restaurant

Reinholds Restaurant can be found in a historical building on the Main Street. It’s very popular with the locals and if the locals like it, then it’s generally a good bet. I went there for dinner and it was a cosy, fairly posh-but-relaxed affair with neatly set tables with mood lighting and lots of candles. The food was delicious – good old-fashioned country-style cooking (think sugar in your pumpkin) – with generous portions and they had the fattest Milk Tart I had ever seen. There’s also a bar and drinks are very reasonably priced. Tel 083-389-3040.

7. Ramskop Wildflower Garden

The Ramskop Wildflower Garden with over 350 species of cultivated wild flowers is a highlight of Clanwilliam in the spring (although I am sure it’s lovely any time of the year) and you shouldn’t leave town without a paying a visit. Seeing all those daisies and quiver trees against a backdrop of mountains and the Clanwilliam Dam was definitely a highlight of my stay in Clanwilliam. The Tea Garden was closed when I visited, but when they are open (August and September) they offer sandwiches, cakes, pancakes, scones and a meal of the day for very reasonable prices. All served with tea of course! Tel 027-482-2024.

8. Nancy’s Tea Room

Very close to Reinholds is another popular restaurant, Nancy’s Tea Room (they have a lot of tea rooms in Clanwilliam!) who make a spinach quiche that’s worth the drive from Cape Town alone. I can honestly say that I have never tasted a quiche as good as that! To get to the Tea Room you walk down a passageway that’s filled with interesting objects (made me think of an indoor market) and there’s also a shop that sells gifts and Rooibos products. It’s also the only place that I managed to find pretty postcards and they were at a bargain too at R5 each. Tel 027-482-2661.

9. Berry Nice Tea Room

In Mark Street, behind the Blomkerk,  you will find something quite rare – an honesty tea room. Recently opened as an addition to Oom Karel se Winkel next door, you are invited to boil the kettle and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and as there are no formal waiting staff, you simply leave payment on the table when you go. The Berry Nice Tea Room also sells take-away rolls that are done up with a raffia ribbon. Tel 084-548-4260.

10. Traveller’s Rest and the Sevilla Rock Art Trail

If you are looking for San rock art and a fairly easy hiking trail, then the 5 km long Sevilla Rock Art Trail that starts at Traveller’s Rest Farm Stall is a good option for both. An easy walk takes you to nine rock art sites and on the way you may see springbok and eland along with a wide variety of birds and indigenous plants. You need to get a permit (R30) and these are available at the farm stall. The farm stall itself is in a pretty setting alongside the Brandewyn River and sells all sorts of treats and gifts, while the restaurant side serves traditional fare such as roosterkoek and waterblommetjiebredie. There is also accommodation available. Tel 027-482-1824, email [email protected], www.travellersrest.co.za.

Book a stay at Traveller’s Rest

11. The Hen House

This seasonal and lovingly-run tea house and restaurant can be found after travelling over the Pakhuis Pass (worth the drive – the Pass is beautiful) on Alpha Excelsior Guest Farm. The décor is bright and cheerful and the long stoep overlooking a river is perfect for stoep-sitting in the afternoon sun. We enjoyed a cup of Rooibos tea with a giant slice of moist chocolate cake that was generously filled with chocolate icing. They serve breakfasts too. The place could be filled with rock climbers who come from all over the world for bouldering, but you don’t need to be able to grip onto a rock to have a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a chat. The Hen House is currently only open from May until the end of September. Tel 027-482-2700, email [email protected], www.alphaexcelsior.co.za.

12. Bushman’s Cave “Bergteater”

This “mountain theatre” that has played host to a variety of performers, including Steve Hofmeyr, and earlier this year a World Record attempt for the consumption of most sheep heads (apparently it got rained out, but I may need to go witness this next year). Aside from a beautiful, natural open-air theatre, there is also well-preserved and fairly detailed San rock art depicting a ritual. Overnight camping is also available with the open-air showers in between the rocks being a highlight. Tel 027-482-2918, [email protected], www.bushmanscave.co.za.

Where to stay in Clanwilliam

 

The Waenhuis

The Waenhuis, is only 3.5 km from the Clanwilliam town centre which makes it a perfect spot for exploring the town and surrounding area. As the name implies, The Waenhuis was the original wagon shed (built in 1820) on Patrysvlei farm that has been in the Bergh family for nine generations.

The Waenhuis provides comfortable self-catering accommodation with everything you could need. There’s an indoor fireplace for wintery nights, while in summer you can sit outside at a 8-seater table and enjoy the view while having a braai. Guests are also welcome to use the swimming pool as well as enjoy walks on the farm. The Waenhuis has been game-fenced and guests are often treated to a visit by a herd of eland and springbok in the evenings. From R180 a person a night. Tel 027-482-2613, email [email protected].

Book a stay at The Waenhuis

Oudrif

Oudrif may only be approximately 50 km from Clanwilliam over the Pakhuis Pass, but when you get there you’ll feel like you are hundreds of miles away from any form of civilization. For a start there’s no mobile reception and because everything runs on solar power and gas, there are no plug points so you cannot charge any of your electronic devices. It’s pure escapism and not surprising that most of their guests return time and time again.

For a very reasonable R800 a person a night, you get to stay in an environmentally-friendly staw-bale house overlooking the Doring River, three delicious meals a day, plus all drinks and excursions including hikes to see San rock art. If you want to see flowers, the best time to go is in August when they are at their best, but if basking in the sun and swimming in the river are more your thing, then October to January is the time to go. But any time of the year is good for a sense of solitude in nature and restoration of your soul (and possibly your sanity). Tel 027-482-2397, email [email protected], www.oudrif.co.za.

 

More accommodation options in Clanwilliam






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