Kakamas, Green Kalahari

Kakamas is a rather small town situated in the Northern Cape of South Africa. This interesting town was originally built by a church and named after the Khoi word for 'poor pasture'. Today, this name poorly reflects on a fertile valley in the lower Orange River, graced with vineyards, cotton and Lucerne fields.

Legend has it that grazing in the vicinity was poor and, when cattle were driven through the river's drifts, some consistently turned on their drivers. To others, the town's name originates from the Khoi word, "gagamas" (brown), referring to the red clay of the area with which women smear their faces. This lovely town was built on the sheer hard work and determination of a few impoverished stock farmers at the end of the 19th century.

In 1897, the Dutch Reformed Church started a colony on the farms Soetap and Kakamas on the banks of the gorgeous Orange River for white people who had lost everything as a result of the drought. Each farmer helped build an irrigation project, and was rewarded with a plot of land irrigated by the resulting canals and tunnels. Despite the criticism they received from qualified engineers about their building methods, the farmers continued to construct the water canals by hand.

Today, they are still used to supply the town and surrounding areas with water for irrigation. Two tunnels of 3-4m high, 2,5m wide and 97m and 172m long, were dug by hand as part of the canal building project and were completed in 1911. Many of these fascinating tunnels can be explored by visitors.

Other interesting artefacts that can be explored by visitors include a Hydro-electrical power station, an Obelisk, Riemvasmaak Hot Springs, German War Graves and ancient Operating Waterwheels. The Hydro-electrical power station was designed to look like an Egyptian temple. It was completed in 1914 and accommodated the first hydro - electric power station in South Africa. The Obelisk was erected in 1998 to commemorate the graves of over 150 coloured and black people who were removed from this area in 1986.

Riemvasmaak Hot Springs is a must for all visitors! It is situated in a deep ravine surrounded by undulating hills dotted with wild fig and quiver trees. Superb accommodation is available and there are plenty of fun and exciting activities for all including hiking and 4x4 trails.

The hot and dry climate at Kakamas as well as the perfectly fertile soil irrigated by the Orange River is ideal for soft fruits. All fields are irrigated from the series of primitive canals, driven by ancient water wheels. Interestingly, one single Kakamas peach tree is the progenitor of 3 quarters of all the trees supplying the South African peach canning industry! Kakamas is a lovely community boasting an expanse of inviting fruit farms, lovely weather as well as a rich cultural heritage. There is plenty to explore and enjoy here!

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