To some, the town’s name originates from the Khoi word, ‘gagamas’ (brown), referring to the red clay of the area with which women daub their faces. To most, though, Kakamas is a Koranna word meaning ‘poor pasture’ and ‘vicious, charging ox’.

Legend has it that grazing in the vicinity was poor and, when cattle were driven through the river’s drifts, some turned on their drivers. Today, the name reflects poorly on a fertile valley in the Lower Orange River, graced with vineyards, cotton and lucerne fields.

The drought of 1895-97 was followed by an outbreak of rinderpest, leaving many farmers destitute. Knysna’s Dutch Reformed Church minister, BPJ Marchand, sometimes called the father of Kakamas, played a leading role in saving people from ruin. The river islands of Marchand, Zoetap and Neus became a labour colony for the poor.

So successful were their farming ventures that full title to the land was granted them. In 1930, the church divided an area in central Kakamas into 40 residential plots.This was the beginning of Kakamas township. Cultivating grapes for raisins began in 1960 and table grapes in 1980. Today, they are exported worldwide.


Egyptian-styled Hydroelectric Power Station

To be seen in the main road.

German War Graves

The graves of German soldiers killed in a 1915 clash with South African troops lie at the foot of a low hill just outside town, on the N14 to Kakamas.

Irrigation Tunnels

Built by Cornish miners, they can be seen outside Kakamas, on the N14 to Kakamas.

Kalahari Adventure Centre

Rafting, canoeing, hiking, desert adventures and Kalahari backroads safari’s. Tel 054 451 0218 Fax 054 451 0177Email Website

Khamkirri Private Game Reserve

‘Place of the Leopard’, the name given by the Nama for this part of the world. This Private Game Reserve, consisting of 7 500ha, is situated where the mighty Orange River and the Kalahari meet. Game drives, river rafting, 4×4 routes, 4×2 bakkie routes, horseriding, angling, absailing, watersking and hiking trails. Tel 054 451 0325 Fax 054 451 0036 Email Website

Operating Waterwheels

Eleven waterwheels are still used on the canals. They can be seen in Voortrekker Street or on the many canals running through the vineyards, lucerne and cottonfields.

Riemvasmaak Hot Springs

To the north of the mighty Augrabies Falls, between the Orange and dry Molopo Rivers, lies 75 000 hectares of sheer mountain desert wilderness born from violent volcanic activity millions of years ago. You will be dwarfed by eighty metre high granite cliff walls and awesome lunar landscape-like scenery. It is inhabited by friendly Riemvasmaak people. Indulge in a great 4×4 trail experience. Tel 054 337 2804/85 or 083 5737715.

Rockery Route, The

Following the gravel road from Neilersdrift to Kakamas via the Neus Wier, you will be stunned by differing landscapes. At times, the world is transformed into a series of rocky outcrops with twisted kokerbome and camelthorn trees – at others, the lush vineyards on the river’s many islands cover the landscape ingrass-green splendour.

Wine Tasting and Tours

Offered at the Orange River Wine Cellars Co-operative. Tel 054 431 0830.

Town information

Kakamas Municipality 11th Avenue Kakamas 8870 Tel 054 431 6300 Fax 054 431 0837 Kalahari Gateway Hotel 19 Voortrekker Road Kakamas 8870 Tel 054 431 0838 Fax 054 431 0836


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