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TThe Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project (CLLP) is a community-based heritage and education project highlighting the living legacy of the San hunter-gatherers who lived in the Cederberg for many thousands of years. 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.
The CLLP presents the Cederberg landscape as a time machine, which 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 knowledge of the San ancestors.
At this Cederberg community-based tourism initiative, your journey begins with a full tour of the CLLP, 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, which gave San hunters 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 CLLP. 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 project’s craft shop, where community artisans hand-make accessories like bags and necklaces, referencing San mythology and using traditional materials like leather, ostrich shells and grasses.
If you have 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.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project
Tel: +27 (0)64 076 9576
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.
Things to do in the area
Clanwilliam Dam, Ramskop Nature Reserve and Clanwilliam Museum are all worth a visit.
Tours to do
Rooibos Tea Company, Wuppertal Rhenish Mission station.
If you’re not on an organised tour, you will need a car.
What will it cost?
Guided tours cost R75 to see one site and R120 for two sites. Plus you will pay R30 per permit at the Warmhoek Trail and R40 for Sevilla (which has nine sites). It will cost R220 for the full tour (including permit fees). That takes about three hours. The Living Landscape guesthouse in Clanwiliam costs R300 per person per night (max 6), with an extra R60 per person should you want breakfast.
Length of stay
Four hours for a tour of the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project and a 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 is 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.
Each year in spring, the local community holds a lantern parade through the streets of Clanwilliam with giant, fantastical paper lanterns modelled on the rock art of the area. These include creatures like the praying mantis, which was revered by the San.
CLLP craft items, leather ‘velskoen’ shoes, rooibos tea, wine.