Clarens is part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountains. The Rooiberge is the range encompassing the village, whilst further towards the southeast are the Maluti mountains in shades of purple and blue. All around are the sandstone cliffs with their multi-coloured layers – these horizontal strata are a characteristic feature of the area. Many homes in the Clarens Valley are made from or clad in sandstone. The rock was formed when the area was a desert 190-196 million years ago. Sand dunes built up over time and the sand particles were squeezed together to form a weak rock. Black stripes on the rock can be seen, even long after it has rained. These are areas where water seeps out of the rocks. Minerals from the top basalt layer are carried in the water and these stain the rocks black. The water enables organisms like algae and moss to live on the rock as well.