Mother Nature has looked favourably on this part of the world, with rare fauna and flora scattered around the area – home to some of the most stunning vistas imaginable.
The tranquil town of Maclear, named after the Astronomer Royal of the Cape from 1834 to 1870, Thomas Maclear, is situated in the picturesque valley of the Mooi River in the mountainous region of the Eastern Cape. With over 1 000km of rivers and streams available, Maclear is also the Mecca for wild trout fishing in South Africa, while outdoor adventure lovers will enjoy horseback, hiking and 4×4 trails and abseiling in the great outdoors.
Woodcliffe Cave Trails
These trails are situated on Woodcliffe, a private farm outside Maclear. The walks are clearly marked and lead through some amazing Drakensberg scenery. With the farmhouse used as a base camp, caves and mountain cottages can be used for over-nighting en route. The main attractions include the Drakensberg scenery and fresh air, indigenous forests, waterfalls, San paintings and dinosaur footprints. A short botanical walk, known as the Picnic Forest Trail, has been laid out near Woodcliffe Cottage and many species of flora are encountered and identified along the trail. Bird life is abundant and a list of no fewer than 153 species has been drawn up, including Hammerkop, Black Eagle, African Goshawk, Lanner Falcon, Crowned Crane and Spotted Eagle Owl—to name a few. There are numerous examples of Bushman paintings in the mountains of the Woodcliffe Trail, but special—and not always easy—detours have to be taken to see them.
Bird lovers are in for a treat, as the Maclear area is home to some very interesting species including the orange-breasted rockjumper, Drakensberg siskin and mountain pipit as well
as the fascinating ground woodpecker. The natural grasslands, wetlands and mountains
are home to all three crane species – Southern Crowned, Blue and the rare and endangered
Wattled crane. Yellow breasted Pippits breed here in summer, while the mountain ranges
provide nesting place for Cape Vultures and the endangered Bearded Vulture (Lammergeyer). Small pockets of Afro-Montane forest give sightings of Bush BlackCap and Olive Woodpeckers, to mention but a few.
The Tsitsa Falls and gorge, situated about 70km to the east of Maclear (just off the N2 route) is an adventure hotspot that is not to be missed. Here one can abseil down the 28m waterfall or catch a zipline across the gorge to a San (Bushman) rock art site. Other activities here include kayaking, kloofing and fly-fishing. Contact Addi or Angela Metcalfe on 045 932 1138 for more information or log onto www.tsitsafalls.com.
Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to fly-fishing in Maclear and this highly-skilled art has put the area firmly on the tourist map. Fishing ranges from fast-flowing streams, to slow, deep rivers with huge pools. Many dams have been built, providing the fly-fisherman with the option of still-water fishing. The “Rapture of the River” Fly-fishing Festival taking place annually around April-May.
The Sivewright Bridge on Station Street, is a beautiful sandstone structure dating back to 1899 and has been declared a provincial heritage site. It has been replaced by the CE Kirk and Ugie Bridges, but remains an attraction worth seeing.
Maclear is home to a nine-hole golf course that features some spectacular views. Other sporting facilities include the town’s tennis and squash courts.
As in Ugie, the area has many examples of fossilised dinosaur spoor. Two types of dinosaur have been identified – a larger four-footed type and a smaller two-legged variety.
The Maclear area is home to numerous fine examples of San rock art, found in the mountain caves. Uniquely, this area is a hotspot for polychrome-shaded rock art. These paintings are world-renowned and have been featured in the National Geographic publication.
Naudes Nek Pass
With a summit of nearly 3 000m above sea level, Naudés Nek Pass is the highest dirt road in South Africa. The pass connects Maclear with Rhodes and is best travelled in a comfortable 4×4 vehicle, but it still presents a challenge, particularly in winter with heavy snowfalls.