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BUSHMEN ROCK ART & HERITAGE IN THE CEDERBERG


rock art & heritage
The Cederberg is one of the best areas for ancient San (Bushmen) rock art in the world, with over 2,500 discovered sites, a number of which are easily accessible.

 
The Cederberg mountains are filled with silent stories of Bushman rock art. Some are clear depictions of everyday events, other are enigmatic. Thousands of years old, this bushmen rock art speaks of the inhabitants of these rugged mountains, who lived lightly within a world they understood, and danced and painted energetically. Their legacy litters the Cedarberg, along well-known trails that need no guide to find the way. You may be fortunate to discover one of the thousands of paintings not yet seen by modern eyes. There are a number of trails and rock art sites to visit, with no crowds or queues, where the only fence between you and the living art is appreciative respect.
 
The Cederberg is also known for our picturesque mission villages of Wupperthal, Heuningvlei and Elandskloof, Anglo-Boer history and some delightful little country museums.

 

 
 
 
 
       Tips for visiting the Rock Art sites

A number of short booklets describing some of the best sites are available at Clanwilliam and Citrusdal Tourism Bureaus. These will greatly enhance your enjoyment. It is strictly forbidden to touch the rock art or disturb the sights in any way such as putting water on the paintings. The ground may be uneven around the various sites so we recommend comfortable walking shoes, a hat and lots of water!

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       Wupperthal Mission Village

75km from Clanwilliam, in the remote TraTra valley, lies the picturesque Moravian Mission Village of Wupperthal. Walk around this pretty village filled with traditional thatched white-washed cottages and perhaps enjoy some lunch at Lekkerbekkie coffee shop. You can combine a visit to Wupperthal with the Sevilla Rock Art Trail and Louis Leipoldt’s grave.

 

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Wupperthal was founded as a Rhenish missionary station in 1830 by the Rev. Johann Gottlieb Leipoldt (grandfather of the poet, Louis Leipoldt). It was later taken over by the Moravian Mission. Activities in Wupperthal centre around the ‘velskoene’ (shoe) factory where you can buy a pair of hand-made walking shoes, rooibos tea farming and the Mission Station itself. During the spring flower season, you can easily combine some time in the Biedouw valley to view their flower displays on your return from Wupperthal?

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       Sevilla Rock Art Trail

The Sevilla Rock Art Trail is on Travellers Rest farm about 30 minutes drive from Clanwilliam over the Pakhuis Pass. This can be visited by buying a permit at the Farm Stall just before the Brandewyn's River when open or from the Traveller's Rest farmhouse. You may also want to purchase the very useful informative booklet on these paintings from the Farm Stall or Clanwilliam Tourism Office in Clanwilliam before you set out.

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The trail can be easily combined with a visit to Wupperthal or to the Biedouw Valley during the flower season. The trail consists of 10 different rock art sites and will take about 2½ hours to complete. As it is a linear trail you can turn back at any time if you are tired BUT because of this, the first four sites are less impressive than the second five as they have been visited by many more people over the years. If you are short of time, we would recommend walking past the first four sites to get to at least sites 5 to 7 and then visit the first 4 sites on the way back. (Sites 8 & 9 are also very good but a little further on). The walk is not difficult but does involve slightly uneven terrain so comfortable shoes are recommend, plus hat and plenty of water!

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       Rock Art tours with Living Landscape Project

The Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project is an exciting community-tourism initiative in the Cederberg. Local people have been trained, under the auspices of UCT department of archaeology to develop people’s understanding of our rock art heritage. Living Landscape take people on guided tours of some key rock art sites close to Clanwilliam and also run school and university programmes.

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The Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project is based at the former St Johns School in Park Street. Local people have been trained as craftspeople with authentic crafts associated with the San (Bushmen) people and books on rock art for sale. The original school hall has been transformed into a Time Machine, an interactive opportunity to understand the enigmatic nature of time especially as it relates to the lives of local pre-colonial hunter gatherers or San people. These hunters and gatherers have much to teach us about custodianship, sustainability and our place in the biological web of life.

Outside a new garden has been planted with used by San people as food, as medicinal aids and as artifacts. It acts as a supplement to the displays and activities in the hall and is used to illustrate the seasonal component of time measurement. The garden will also introduce schoolchildren to the lives and habits of San people, reinforcing the seasonal cycle of the local fynbos.

Visit the Living Landscape Project in Park Street for guided rock art tours (up to 4 different rock art sites depending on your time and inclination), the Time machine interactive museum, the garden and the craft shop. Contact them on 027 482 1765
.

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       Louis Leipoldt's Grave on Pakhuis Pass

C Louis Leipoldt’s grave is about 17 km from Clanwilliam in the scenic Pakhuis Pass (signposted). Traces of San rock art are still visible on the rock faces above the grave. Leipoldt was an important Afrikaans writer and poet, a medical doctor, a botanical explorer and a cook. The Pakhuis Pass, originally built by Thomas Bain to link Clanwilliam and Calvinia, was opened in April 1877. Although it was widened during the 1960’s, it remains a charming scenic road, ideal for a drive at sunset.

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       The 1820 Settlers

In the early 19th century, the Governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Somerset, wanted more people to be sent out to the Cape both to populate the eastern frontier of the colony and to increase the English-speaking community.

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It would also ease political tensions in Britain that had been stretched to breaking point with post-war unemployment, industrialisation and poor trade. 

On 12 February 1820 four groups of mainly Irish settlers (126 men, 73 women and 159 children) set sail for the Cape.  They were granted land in the Clanwilliam district of the Cederberg. Every male would receive 100 acres to cultivate and after 3 years the land would belong to him. But very soon the settlers realised that the extreme summer heat of the Cederberg required extensive irrigation which they were not used to providing. Most of the settlers decided to move to the Eastern Cape and the remaining settlers were able to buy their land at very low prices. By 1825 only six families remained and yet their names live on in some of the valley and street names such as Shaw’s Kloof, Park Street, Foster Street. Consider the Eastern Cape Frontier wars that raged throughout the 19th century, one wonders whether the rest of the settlers should have stayed as well?
 

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        The Englishman's Grave

The Englishman’s grave is found in a lonely spot just before the turnoff to Wupperthal mission village. Lt Graham Vinicombe Winchester Clowes (of the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders) lies buried here after being killed on 30th January 1901 in a skirmish with a Boer commando.

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Clowes’ family was devastated by his death and his mother travelled from her home in Hertfordshire and had the gravestone constructed over the simple hole where her son had been buried. For many years, Mrs Clowes made an annual visit to the grave to lay a wreath on her son’s grave. A considerable challenge when you consider that it would have involved 5 weeks at sea in both directions and a day’s drive in the searing heat of the Cederberg in January!

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