Editor's note: Our hearts go out to the people of Wuppethal who are affected by the devastating fires of December 2018. Please note that if you are planning travel to this area, many establishments are affected. We hope the town is able to recover soon.
This remote village in the Tra-Tra Valley behind the rugged Cederberg mountains remains relatively untouched. Seventy-five kilometres southeast of Clanwilliam and 250 kilometres from Cape Town, visitors have to wind through the Cederberg along the R364 through Clanwilliam, and over the gravel Pakhuis and Kouberg Passes to get to it.
The general area is somewhat dryer than other Cederberg destinations, but Wupperthal is green and lovely. Its founders, the Rhenish missionaries, Theobald von Wurmb and Johan Gottlieb Leipoldt (grandfather of poet C. Louis Leipoldt), named it after the Wupper River in Germany in 1830.
It attracted many freed slaves after 1838 and in 1865 it was absorbed into the Moravian Church. It remains a Moravian mission and is mostly unchanged, with an old thatched church (1834), a shop, a tea room, post office, a school (1842), a community hall, and a few rows of neat thatched white cottages.
Famous for its quality veldskoens (suede leather shoes), Wupperthal also produces roltabak (rolled dried tobacco), dried fruits, dried beans and rooibos tea.
Endemic Clanwilliam cedars, snow proteas and rocket pincushions are found in the surrounding wilderness and, after good winter rains, the fynbos blooms bright with flowers.
Self-catering chalets, a caravan and a camp site are available to tourists, with hiking, donkey-cart rides and tranquility being the major attractions.
Look out for
Wupperthal borders the Cederberg Wilderness Area, where hiking, climbing and mountain-biking are popular activities. The Wupperthal Trail is a Cederberg Heritage Route, one of four community-based three-to-five-day walking trails in the Cederberg mountains. It also offers an optional hike up Krakadouw peak, the highest mountain in the northern Cederberg. The last day is spent on the Sevilla Rock Art trail.
The Krokodam River flows through Wupperthal offers great swimming in its rock pool. Contact Wupperthal Tourism.
Rooibos Tea Factory – Aspalathus linearis makes an aromatic, caffeine-free tea which is gaining in popularity world-wide. Khoisan people in the Cederberg harvested and drank it. It’s still processed in the same way, but is now organically grown rather than gathered. Tours in summer.
The Shoe Factory – the oldest working shoe factory in South Africa, was founded in 1836 by the shoemaker J.G. Leipoldt. Veldskoens are the 17th-century Dutch adaptation of Khoi-San footwear. When Nelson Mandela visited the factory, he instantly donned his “vellies”.