Klawer, Olifants River Valley

After passing Clanwilliam on the N7 the landscape begins to change. One leaves the beauty of the Cederberg for another beauty entirely. Now the Olifants River, of which one becomes aware near Clanwilliam as it feeds the dam and the orange groves there, widens and, without warning, the banks are suddenly thick with grape vines. It is a totally unexpected scenery, one that takes your breath away. In all this aridness, the grapes are a stark contrast. One's reaction is one of amazement - how could you not have known this was here?

Klawer lies just outside the slightly bigger towns of Vredendal and Vanrhynsdorp, high in the nether reaches of the Western Cape Province. This little corridor of unusualness doesn't seem to belong to either the Western Cape or the Northern Cape, except for the accompanying mountains; it has a life and look of its own.

Klawer is a pretty little dorp, more of a settlement really. You're no sooner there than you are through the town and moving on. But it is extremely pretty - more so than Vredendal. Funny that its name, which means clover, today seems to indicate the vines, which function like clover they're in such abundance. But actually the name refers to a wild clover that used to grow here prolifically.

Klawer lies nestled in amongst the Matzikamma Mountains and the Olifants River, and the town seems practically given over to the production of grapes. In fact, on closer inspection, you become aware that the town runs the length of a diaduct that carries the water from the river to the vines. During flower season though, the town is a prolific display of wild flowers, and is one of the reasons, other than the wine, that visitors come here.

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