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Sip on this tea - beverage tourism is the new ‘in’ thing in Clanwilliam

Rock paintings adorn a cave near Clanwilliam in South Africa's rugged Cederberg mountains. Picture: Reuters

Rock paintings adorn a cave near Clanwilliam in South Africa's rugged Cederberg mountains. Picture: Reuters

Published May 13, 2022


Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council says the pandemic turned everyone’s focus to healthier living, which has fuelled a resurgence in tea consumption and exploring the unique regions where tea or tisanes are produced.

“Travellers are starting to swop ‘sun-and-sand’ vacations with new, niche travel experiences that interest them, and beverage tourism, which encompasses tea, coffee, wine, whisky and beer tourism, all falling under the same umbrella,” Du Toit says.

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The majority tea estates are over 100 years old, so if you choose to stay on one of the estates, you get to embrace the history, tea culture, and heritage.

“When you go on a tea tour, a whole new world starts to unfold. It takes you inside a century-old community that has been farming and processing tea for generations,’’ Du Toit says.

Skimmelberg Farm – Clanwilliam.

Du Toit believes the combination of rooibos farming with tourism can become a new engine of growth for the local economy, which in turn, could help create more jobs and decrease poverty.

Sanet Stander, co-founder of the Rooibos Route, which was established several years ago to promote tourism in Clanwilliam, says they’ve seen an uptick in international travel to the area and are booking more rooibos tours.

“We’ve hosted tourists from all over the world, but there’s been an influx of German and Swiss tourists of late, and as locals have searched for secluded spots during the pandemic, Clanwilliam has become a favourite among South Africans too,’’ Stander says.

Skimmelberg Farm (Clanwilliam) offers regular rooibos and buchu tours. Visitors will get to see these two plants as they occur in the wild, how they are organically and sustainably farmed, and enjoy a tea-tasting that’s sure to tantalise all the senses.

Stander says the concept of a Rooibos Route took hold after being inundated by questions from tourists about rooibos at the local Rooibos Teahouse, a boutique restaurant where tourists can sample more than 100 varieties of rooibos.

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“Since 2014, we’ve hosted many local and overseas tourists, and are looking forward to welcoming more to our beautiful region,” she says.

Here’s a list of activities that you can expect along the Rooibos Route:

· Learn how rooibos is produced – from farm to cup (harvest season only, from December to March). Skimmelberg offers educational buchu and rooibos farm tours, as well as tea tastings where you’ll learn about the different varieties and recommended brewing techniques.

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· Rooibos heritage tours (history of rooibos and Clanwilliam town).

· Sevilla Rock Art Tour, which involves a moderate 5km hike to 10 rock art sites dating back to between 1600 and 8000 years.

· Fynbos/flower tour, Biedouw Valley (go in spring when the Cederberg puts on an immaculate floral display).

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· Hike, jog, mountain-bike and horse-ride through beautiful, rugged scenery.

· Go stargazing.

· Enjoy a boat cruise on the Clanwilliam Dam.

· Bouldering at Rocklands – a world-class bouldering site.

· Birding.

· Indulge in a rooibos spa pamper.

· Camp and/or picnic in the Cederberg.

· Mingle with the local community and learn about their life and culture, and how to Riel dance.

· Sip on rooibos-infused cuisine and sundowners.

It’s more than just sipping on tea, it’s about the history, the tea culture and the heritage.