The Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project (CLLP) is a community-based heritage and education project aimed at highlighting the living legacy of the San hunter-gatherers that lived in the Cederberg many thousands of years ago. The Cederberg is described as an outdoor art gallery and archaeological archive, and the origin of modern humans is written on its rock faces and cave walls.

Did you know?

About 460 million years ago massive glaciers moved across the Cederberg area causing massive changes.

The Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project is conceived around the idea of the Cederberg landscape as a time machine, that visitors can ‘travel’ through using the wealth of archaeological material continually discovered here – rock art, structural remains, and plant, animal and human artefacts – to connect to the lifestyle, beliefs and wisdom of our San ancestors.

At this Cederberg community-based tourism initiative, your journey begins with a full tour of the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project, a sort of pre-flight briefing, before you’re taken to the Time Machine (an old school hall). Here, your knowledgeable community guide explains how the Cederberg mountains formed, revives the areas long-forgotten San names, and describes the San heritage of the flora, rock art and the archaeological artefacts on display.

From there, you’ll visit the Time Garden, where the San way of marking time and the passage of the seasons, is captured in a variety of indigenous medicinal and functional plants – like the Quiver tree, used by San hunters as a container for carrying their arrows.

Next, you’ll head off on a guided tour of the Warmhoek or Sevilla rock art trails, developed by the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project. The University of Cape Town’s archaeology department has intensively educated community trail guides on the compositions, interpretation, and symbolism of the rock art motifs.

The full rock art trail comprises five sites and takes around four hours to complete. Two of the sites can only be accessed by a steep climb, so there is also the option of easier, shorter, one and two-hour tours. Whichever option you choose, you’re sure to be entranced by the artistry and delicacy of these glyphs, and the ancient dialogue that flows from them.

After your tour, visit the projects’ craft shop where community artisan’s hand-make accessories like bags and necklaces using San mythology and traditional materials like leather, ostrich shells, and grasses as their inspiration.

If you’ve time, a gratis 30-minute drive through Clanwilliam town and the township of Cederville, will give you a complete picture of this region of the Cederberg, steeped in the spirit of the San, and their fossils and fables.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project
Tel: +27 (0)27 482 1911
E-mail: chap@lando.co.za

How to get here

Take the N7 highway out of Cape Town, north for 212km (+/- two hours), passing through the towns of Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, Piketberg, and Citrusdal, arriving at Clanwilliam. Turn off the N7 into Clanwilliam.

Best time to visit

Mid-August to September is wildflower season in Clanwilliam.

Around the area

Clanwilliam dam, Ramskop Nature Reserve, Clanwilliam museum.

Tours to do

Rooibos Tea Company, Wuppertal Rhenish Mission station.

Get around

If you’re not on an organised tour you will need a car.

What will it cost

Guided tours cost R75 for seeing one site, to R120 for two sites. Then extra R30 per permit to pay at the Warmhoek Trail and R40 for Sevilla (which has nine sites). It will cost R220 for the full tour (including permit fee). That takes about three hours. The Living Landscape guesthouse in Clanwiliam costs R300 per person (max 6), with an extra R60 should you want breakfast.

Length of stay

Four hours for a tour of the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project + two-hour rock art trail. Six hours for a tour of the project and a four-hour rock art trail.

What to pack

Comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and drinking water. Sun protection is necessary in summer; in winter, bring a weatherproof jacket.

Where to stay

B&B accommodation available at the CLLP, Oudrif eco-retreat, Travellers Rest cottages, or the five-star Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat.

What to eat

A light snack and beverage is available at the CLLP by prior arrangement.

What's happening

Each year in spring, the local community holds a lantern parade through the streets of Clanwilliam with giant-sized, fantastical paper lanterns modelled on the rock art of the area, including creatures like praying mantises, which were revered by the San.

Best buys

CLLP Craft items, leather veldskoen (shoes), rooibos tea, wine.