GREEN KALAHARI ACCOMMODATION RIEMVASMAAK
RIEMVASMAAK
A COMMUNITY RESTORED

Riemvasmaak lies in the Molopo River, about 12km northeast of its confluence with the Orange River and close to the Augrabies Falls National Park. According to local folklore, the name can be traced to an ancient Damara who suffered from rheumatism and wanted to reach a certain mineral spring along the course of the Molopo River. To reach the deep gorge of the river, he tied together a number of thong to lower himself down the rocky walls of the ravine to the spring below. The Khoe name for Riemvasmaak is "Konkaib" which fell into disuse when the locakl people were forced to speak Afrikaans in preference to their own language.

To the west of the valley lies 500square kilometers of sparsely vegetated land occupied mainly by Damara and Koranna of the Khoe tribes. These hardy people used the land to graze their goats and sheep, as their forefathers had done for ages.

In the 1960s the inhabitants of Riemvasmaak were forcebly removed by the apartheid South African government of the time and the land was used as a military training facility. The forced removal of the community was particularly brutal. Approximately 1 500 people were divided into three groupings. Those who were classified under apartheid laws as Xhosa were moved to Welcomewood in the Ciskei in 1973. Those who were classified of Nama or Damara heritage were forcibly relocated 1 300 kilometres away to Khorixas in northern Namibia in 1973 and 1974. Finally, those who were classified as coloured remained in the areas surrounding Riemvasmaak, such as Marchand, Augrabies and Keimoes.
Riemvasmaak with it's 80 M deep canyon and it's natural hot water spring is probably one of the most unique places on our planet.  It takes your breath away and there is more than enough to do like 4x4 routes, abseiling, hiking and mountain biking.  This moonlike landscape will leave you breathless!  Situated +/- 480km from Kimberley (Near Upington).
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Soon after 1994 the current South African government returned the land to the descendants of the original inhabitants.

Riemvasmaak has a special place in South African history as it was the first land restitution case after the election of a democratic government. In 1994, some Riemvasmakers returned to the land from which they had been forcibly removed 21 years earlier. Riemvasmaak offers rich and valuable lessons for the land reform process broadly and the conversion of military land more specifically. First, it is a graphic example of how the military gained land at the expense of its rightful owners. Second, it highlights the negative impact of military activity on the land. Although ecological damage has been minimal, some people even arguing that the land has benefited from the military presence, military debris is a legacy with which the community will have to live for many years. Third, Riemvasmaak demonstrates the intransigence of the military through the drawn-out struggle that communities undertook to regain the land. Finally, Riemvasmaak encapsulates the difficulties communities face as land use shifts from defence to development.

The Riemvasmakers’ struggle was far from over when they regained land from the SANDF, and has taken different forms as the people attempt to develop the land and rebuild a sense of community. Development has been a complex, protracted, and, at times, conflictual process. This is the result of a range of factors, including inadequate assistance from an ill-equipped Department of Land Affairs; social divisions in the community along gender, ethnic, class and political lines and a lack of community capacity to engage with development processes.

Electricity for domestic use was switched on for the first time in 2002 . Also in the same period a large area of the land was put under trellised vines for the production of raisins.
Wildlife and Vegetation:
Gemsbok and kudu are occasionally seen but hyraxes are common. The lucky visitor may see leopard and baboon. Birdlife is prolific and the Alpine swifts, darting from their nests in the towering cliffs, are delightful to watch. Camelthorn and Shepherd's trees ("Witgat") vie with each other - the one more beautiful than the other. In spring the veld is adorned with flowers. Do try and find the Aptosimum spinescens or "Doringviooltjie" which is particularly beautiful.

Strange and unexpected plant species are abundant in the area. Most prominent trees are the white-stemmed Shepherd's tree, majestic camel thorn tree, wild fig tree and many quiver tree species. Beautiful and delicate flowers make an appearance throughout the year. Small animal life is abundant, most notably hyraxes usually basking in the golden sun, statue-like klipspringer antelopes, noisy Chacma baboons and colourful lizards and agamas. Riemvasmaak is a breeding area for the black eagle, fish eagle and many other raptor species. The blue clear blue skies and sparse vegetation makes raptor viewing and other bird-watching activities especially enjoyable.
4X4 Trails and Hiking:
Tourists visiting Riemvasmaak these days come for the awesome scenery. The friendly community and the natural hot springs where they can wash away the dust of the desert and the worries of the world. There are hiking trials, 4x4 routes, chalets and conference and catering facilities in reed bomas overshadowed by towering granite cliffs and big skies.

The three trails offer a variety of 4X4 experiences ranging from easy going to extremely challenging. The trails consist of deep river and Kalahari sand, steep rocky tracks and dongas to cross. Damage risk to vehicles is minimal and makes these trails very attractive, especially for the novice driver and owner of a luxury 4X4 vehicle. There are also three scenic hiking trails of moderate difficulty to choose from. In any case, visitors are encouraged to walk around freely and a guide can be hired to accompany groups on the trails.
Rooms:
Two comfortable 8-bed and two 4-bed chalets are perched on the edge of a cliff wall rendering a fantastic viewpoint of the vast Riemvasmaak granite canyon. Each chalet has a kitchenette, toilet, cold shower, wash basin and barbecue area. A vast number of camping bomas are available along the three 4X4 trails.

Essentials to take with:
Drinking water , up to 4 litres per person per day
Firewood
Kitchen utensils (Cutlery & crockery)
Food, beverages, ice
Bathing suits, comfortable cotton clothing  & towels
Insect repellant and sunscreen  lotion
Fiorst aid kit with anti-histamine tablets
Fuel up
Own sleeping bag for hikers

Contact information:
Tel: (054) 431 0945
Fax: (054) 451 0176
Private Bag X10, Kakamas 8870

Riemvasmaak is a little Richtersveld that was born out of volcanic activities millions of years ago. Its beauty takes on spiritual proportions, which is amplified by its friendly inhabitants – the Riemvasmaak people. Enjoy a traditional lunch made by the Riemvasmaakers.
The Orange River finds its way through rough and mountainous terrain on its way through the Green Kalahari region towards Namaqualand.
The "Kokerboom" is found in the green kalahari and namaqualand regions.
©South African Tourism
©South African Tourism
The Green Kalahari is where the arid zone comes alive, thanks to the vast Orange River that flows through this part of the Northern Cape. To the south, the river forms a natural boundary and to the north the landscape includes waves of dunes called streets that offer fabulous game viewing. Upington lies on the northern banks of the Orange River and is the Green Kalahari’s main town. It has the longest palm avenue in the southern hemisphere and is surrounded by plentiful vineyards that makes up more than 10% of the country’s total that produce great wines. Oranges, Lucerne, and cotton are also grown in the area.
Kudu (Tragelaphus stresiceros) roam freely in the Green Kalari region. The Kudu is a large handsome antelope and is usually gray-brown in color. The bull is more gray than the female and both male and female have distinct white facial markings. There is a V-shaped band that originates in front of the eyes on the bridge of the nose and extends back towards the eyes, and a band of white marks or spots below the eyes on the cheeks. Both sexes are also identifiable by six to ten clearly marked white vertical stripes along their sides. The male has a more pronounced mane than the female which is accentuated by a large hump originating at the neck and stretching beyond the shoulders. The hairs of the mane are white tipped, long, and end just after the hump. Adult males have a fringe of hair that extends from the throat to the chest which may appear again on the belly as a tuft of hair. The tail of both sexes is usually darker in color than the rest of the body with a white underside and when alarmed it is curled upward. The ears are oversized for the relatively small head, pinkish on the inside and fringed with white hair. The male has long spiral horns with a well developed ridge which is a characteristic of the genus. The female has no horns
©South African Tourism
Tourists visiting Riemvasmaak these days come for the awesome scenery. The friendly community and the natural hot springs where they can wash away the dust of the desert and the worries of the world.
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