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Your guide to Clanwilliam Dam
All About Clanwilliam Dam
Located at the foot of the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa’s Western Cape, the 141-foot-high Clanwilliam Dam was constructed across the Olifants River to irrigate the area’s agriculture, primarily wine grapes and rooibos bushes for tea. These days, the reservoir provides opportunities for visitors to enjoy all sorts of water activities, including swimming, waterskiing, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Fishing is another popular pastime, most commonly for small-mouth bass.
If you’d rather stay on land, there are plenty of hiking trails that meander through fruit orchards and into the mountains. History lovers will want to seek out caves that house Indigenous rock paintings. The nearby hamlet of Clanwilliam is one of the oldest towns in South Africa, with a rich history that you can learn about on a historical walk through the town center. You’ll also find barbecue restaurants and tearooms here where you can refuel and sample the local beverages.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Clanwilliam Dam
Clanwilliam Dam has temperate weather most of the year. Bear in mind that South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite to North America. During the winter months, from mid-June to September, you can go white-water rafting on the nearby Doring River. Early spring in September and October may be the best time to get your Clanwilliam accommodation, as this when hiking in the area is at its most beautiful. Hundreds of species of wildflowers come into bloom across the Cederberg region, celebrated in the Clanwilliam Wildflower Show in September. In October, the town hosts the Bass Classic, the area’s biggest fishing competition. The summer months, December through March, are when temperatures are at their hottest and there is very little rainfall. This is the most popular time for water skiing, which the dam is particularly known for in the Western Cape.
Top things to do in Clanwilliam Dam
The main reason people come here is to get out on the water, whether they’re taking a gentle cruise in a canoe or doing some high-octane jet skiing. Whatever your interest, head to the Water Activities Centre and an instructor will show you the ropes. You can even head up, up, and away under a parasail for an adrenaline rush and far-reaching views of the region.
Ramskop Nature Reserve
The Ramskop Nature Reserve on the northeastern bank of the dam is one of the best places on the Western Cape to experience the beauty of the area’s native flora, with hundreds of varieties to see here. Walk the hour-long trail in August or September to see this sanctuary in full bloom, with carpets of flowers and beautiful views of the lake beyond.
Sevilla Rock Art Trail
This self-guided tour, 40 minutes northeast of the dam, visits nine rock art sites. The route takes around three hours along a trail that follows the Brandewyn River. Pick up a map from the tourist information office in Clanwilliam and set off to find rock paintings that are estimated to be between 800 and 8,000 years old.