In September last year hubby and I planned a mini escape for the weekend to the small town of Clanwilliam smack bang in the middle of rooibos tea country of the Western Cape to enjoy wildflower season. The idea was to drive up from Cape Town, via a few of our favorite small west coast towns, while enjoying the wild flowers that line the roads during the springtime. As luck would have it when we left it was raining, so the drive up via Darling to the accommodation we had booked was pretty sparse as far as wildflower viewing goes…. we really only got to see canola fields because the beautiful wildflowers need sun to open and show their faces to passers by.
We arrived at a rather gloomy Clanwilliam and checked into our B&B and decided to relax for a few hours before the dinner we had booked at Reinhold’s Resturant. Our reservation at Reinhold’s was for 19:30 but we headed in a little earlier to enjoy a drink before dinner. We were greeted by our gracious host and seated in a cozy little corner of the bar area even though they were not officially open yet. Dinner on Sunday evenings at Reinhold’s is something to behold… the menu is very 80’s inspired with item’s like fillet steak with pepper sauce as a main and cheese cake for dessert . The catch is that everything is made with love and Reinhold has tried to infuse a touch of rooibos tea into all his dishes so our meal at Reinhold’s was definitely the highlight of our trip!
The next day we were greeted with more rain, which is common in springtime, but we decided to venture out into the beautiful Cederberg to explore. Our first stop was the Algeria camp site which we really just visited so that we could see what it looked like for a future trip (spoiler alert ahead of that post… it’s gorgeous and I’m looking forward to camping there one day soon). From there we headed back into town to see what the Clanwilliam wildflower show and adjoining market had to offer. We landed up skipping the flower show and just enjoying a pancake and coffee at the little market. From there we popped up the road to the Clanwilliam botanical gardens to see if we could at least see a few wildflowers there. We were pleasantly surprised by the beautifully maintained gardens and we were fortunate enough to feast our eyes on a few of the spectacular wildflowers, as well as succulents, from the area.
Alas, while we were at the botanical gardens the heavens opened and we were caught in the rain again and had to flee to cover which we found at The Rooibos Tea house. The tea house is part of a group of small shops housed in a beautiful “big old house” as their website describes it. What a treat! The shop boasts over 100 different types of rooibos tea and if you feel up to it you can even enjoy a rooibos tea tasting with one of the proprietors. Their claim to fame: they are the only rooibos tea house in the world! I came away feeling very inspired to infuse rooibos into my cooking taking full advantage of the amazing plant grown exclusively here in South Africa.
The final day of our trip up to Clanwilliam started with sunshine and smiles. We drove down the coast toward the West Coast National Park which houses within it an area dedicated to wildflowers that is only open during the spring wildflower season. Along the road to Langebaan, where one of the entrances to the West Coast National park is, we were treated to fields of white, purple and blue flowers along the side of the road. Inside the park the flowers were even more spectacular! There were heaps of flowers of all shapes colours and sizes to feast our eyes on.
I was glad we got to enjoy wildflower season, and even more glad for the rain because it allowed us to explore the little town of Clanwilliam through a different lens. Instead of rushing through Clanwilliam to sleep and eat, we took our time and explored around town a little and discovered side of town that many may rush past and miss.
I’m sure you have read about the slow food movement by now…. an offshoot of that is the slow travel movement which I’m starting to see the allure of. The idea is to take it slow and take the time to experience local culture and connect with a place when you visit. Why not try slow travel next time you are in one of the little towns on your travels and stop to really take in what you see, you never know, you may just find a hidden gem that steals your heart and shows you there is more to life than just rushing from place to place to see the highlights reel.