About Riemvasmaak Community Conservancy

North west of the little town of Kakamas and bordering the Augrabies National Park is the Riemvasmaak Community Conservancy, 75 000 hectares of land between the flowing Orange and dry Molopo rivers.

Did you know? The Kalahari supports more plant life than one expects from a desert – plenty of grassy tussocks, shrubs, the shady camelthorn tree, shepherd’s tree, silver cluster-leaf, the now famous Hoodia cactus, and a feast of edible plants that include wild cucumbers and creeping tsamma melons.

Pronounced 'reem fuss mark', meaning 'tighten the strap', the conservancy is the very first land restitution story. In the 1960s there was a rather callous enforced removal of the residents of this beautiful mountain desert wilderness – mostly Damara and Koranna Khoi tribes - by the then Apartheid government, so that the land could be used as a military training facility.

Roughly 1500 people were divided into three groups according to their 'racial' classification and sent to either Welcomewood in the Ciskei, Khorixas in Northern Namibia, or the nearby towns of Marchand, Augrabies and Keimoes.

A little after 1994 the current government chose to return this land to the children of the original residents. Today they have to contend with the negative impact of the military activity, which might not have left significant ecological damage, but the debris remains as a constant reminder nonetheless. That is only half the story. Those who have returned have also had to develop the land and rebuild the community.

Development has been slow at Riemvasmaak Community Conservancy. Electricity arrived only in 2002, whilst a large portion of land was placed under vine to produce raisins around the same time.

Ecologically, the conservancy is beautiful. The black eagle breeds here, the fish eagle is often sighted, camel thorn, quiver trees and shepherd's trees (witgat) dominate the horizon, and delicate flowers put in an appearance virtually all year.

To attract visitors the community have designed a series of hiking and 4X4 trails, as well as making use of the natural hot springs of the area for which they have built a couple of pools surrounded by 80 metre high granite cliffs.

Need to Know

WhereRiemvasmaak Community Conservancy, Green Kalahari, Northern Cape, South Africa

WhenDaylight hours.

Telephone+27 0)83 873-7715.

OvernightStay in Kakamas Accommodation, Northern Cape

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