The Olifants and Jan Dissels rivers embrace the town, which lies against a backdrop of the mighty Cederberg mountain range. A good rainfall turns the desert into a flower paradise. While the inhabitants long for shade, the plants flourish, including a wealth of Mediterranean and subtropical trees, flowers, fruit and nuts.

Clanwilliam remained undiscovered until the N7 from Cape Town to Namibia was built in the sixties. Now busloads of tourists, on their way north, stop to visit. Word spread and others started arriving and returning, attracted by a magical lure of this special lifestyle.

Clanwilliam, heart of the Rooibos tea area, is one of the ten oldest towns in the country. Rich in cultural and historical heritage and with breathtaking natural beauty, it offers modern recreational facilities and is the centre of a flourishing agricultural community. It is also the only place in the world where Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) can be cultivated. Rooibos is processed, packed and marketed worldwide from the factory in Clanwilliam.

The greater part of Clanwilliam falls within the world renowned Fynbos Biome. Various endangered endemic fynbos species can be found in the area. The most notable of these are the Clanwilliam Cedar and the snow protea which grow exclusively in isolated sites in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. Buchu is a sought after medicinal herb which grows in the mountains around Clanwilliam.

Archeologists and paleontologists are becoming increasingly fascinated by the well preserved fossils, recently discovered by researchers working in the Cederberg mountains. In the town and district are several attractive historical buildings, a wealth of rock art and a profusion of birds.