WEST COAST AREA INFORMATION
The West Coast is a region of contrast and beauty. Stretching over 400km from south to north, the region and its people offer the visitor a surprising variety of travel experiences and destinations. These include the beautiful, and at times desolate, coastal region with its magnificent lagoon and numerous small fishing villages; the grain and wine farms of the Swartland and Sandveld; the citrus, Rooibos and wines of the Olifantsrivier Valley; the spectacular magnificence of the scenic Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek Mountains and the arid beauty of Namaqualand and the Knersvlakte.
Two rivers, the Olifants and the Jan Dissels, embrace the town which lies against a backdrop of the mighty Cederberg mountain range. A good rainfall turns the desert into a flower paradise. While the inhabitants long for shade, the plants flourish, including a wealth of Mediterranean and subtropical trees, flowers, fruit and nuts........
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.
Clanwilliam, heart of the Rooibos tea area, is one of the ten oldest towns in the country. Rich in cultural and historical heritage and with breathtaking natural beauty, it offers modern recreational facilities and is the centre of a flourishing agricultural community.
Clanwilliam and "veldskoene" are synonymous. The factory dates back to 1834 when a cobbler's shop was started at the mission station village, Wupperthal. These shoes are still handmade, as in days gone by.
Clanwilliam is also situated in the only area in the world where Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) can be cultivated. Rooibos is processed, packed and marketed worldwide from the factory in Clanwilliam.
Each year during August and September, depending on the preceding winter's rainfall, the area is transformed into a floral showcase. The area features a large variety of wild flowers. Ramskop Nature Reserve at the Clanwilliam Dam Resort boasts 250 indigenous species of wild flowers. At the end of winter, the Flower Church becomes a hive of activity. Volunteers happily create a manmade landscape inside the church; a kaleidoscope from nature made accessible to everybody. About 360 species are exhibited by the Clanwilliam Wildflower Society, which is a fitting complement to the dignified architecture of the church. The pulpit has been quiet for many years, but the flowers offer a song of praise heavenwards. This flower fête includes concerts, art and food stalls, and a street carnival.
The greater part of Clanwilliam falls within the world renowned Fynbos Biome. Various endangered endemic fynbos species can be found in the area. The most notable of these are the Clanwilliam Cedar (Widdringtonia cederbergensis) and the snow protea (Protea cryophila) which grow exclusively in isolated sites in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. Buchu (Agathosma betulina) is a sought after medicinal herb which grows in the mountains around Clanwilliam.
Archeologists and paleontologists are becoming increasingly fascinated by the well-preserved fossils, recently discovered by researchers working in the Cederberg mountains.
In the town and district there are several attractive historical buildings, a wealth of rock art and a profusion of birds.
Information thanks to the CLANWILLIAM TOURIST INFORMATION