Northern Cape DestinationsHartswater, Diamond Fields
Hartswater is one of two main towns in the Vaalharts Valley; an oasis on the edge of the arid Northern Cape border with North West.
Up until a recent agritourism push the Vaalharts Valley was unknown by holiday makers and travellers alike. But as the activity of spending holidays visiting places in the countryside has grown in popularity, so the Vaalharts Valley, and the little towns of Hartswater and Jan Kempdorp, have begun to feature on people's agendas.
Hartswater has a particularly beautiful road leading into town. The 38 km stretch is lined with poplar trees. Known as Poplar Lane it is regarded as the longest of its kind in the world, and is a popular space for photographs, particularly wedding photographs.
Local wines are produced at Hartswater Wine Cellar under the Overvaal and Elements labels. Head there for wine tasting and pick up a bottle of their Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay or Ruby Cabernet.
But perhaps one of the main reasons for visiting Hartswater is the Women's memorial at the entrance to town. This tiny brick church has beautiful stained glass windows and a powerful sculpted relief fitted on the wall celebrating women's role in society. It was built in recognition of the role women played during the great depression – rather pertinent in the valley as it was during the depression that the Vaalharts Valley irrigation scheme was built to create the opportunity for farms in the area.
The scheme is thought to be one of the largest irrigation schemes in the world, covering 37 000 hectares and watering well over 1000 farms.