In the Northern Cape of South Africa, where the Kalahari and the Nama-Karoo deserts meet, the Great Gariep River (Orange River) flows, bringing life to the typically arid worlds on both sides, and turning the area into an oasis. It is here that travellers can experience the Kokerboom Route.
The route takes the traveller into one of the most interesting and beautiful areas of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province and embraces the towns and settlements of Keimoes, Kanoneiland, Kenhardt, Augrabies, Upington and Marchand. The Kokerboom Food and Wine Route has something for everyone.
The route is located in an arid zone, with stifling hot summers (up to 45°C) and chilly winter nights. The Great Gariep, known more commonly as the Orange River, winds through the landscape and brings it life. This river was once called ‘God’s gift to the Southern African thirstland’. The greenbelt along the river’s banks contrasts sharply with the rising rocky cliffs. Irrigation schemes have stretched the greenbelt into the desert, making acres of vineyards and other agriculture possible. Ten percent of South Africa’s vineyards are found in the Orange River valley and southern Kalahari.
Reasons to visit
In addition to visiting the popular Augrabies Falls visitors can relax in hot springs, river raft, go on 4×4 trips, hike, bird watch, sample local delicacies and wines, touch the unique Kokerboom (quiver tree) and even take a leisurely donkey cart ride through town – all while enjoying the friendly hospitality of South Africa’s Northern Cape province.
The Kokerboom (Quiver tree) is a botanical symbol of that part of the world, and so the route finds its name. Along the route one can experience dry, rugged mountains, desert adapted animal and plant life, red Kalahari dunes, stifling summer temperatures during the day and freezing desert temperatures at night.
Contrasting this typically dry, desert scene, are the water features found in the area. A key natural wonder of the area is the Augrabies Falls. This waterfall, the 6th largest waterfall in the world, is a definite must-see. Other noteworthy attractions include the hot springs at Riemvasmaak, Augrabies Falls National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Dried fruit is a thriving crop of the area, particularity saltanas and dates. Irrigation schemes have turned the desert into the greenbelt, making acres of vineyards and other agriculture possible. 10% of South Africa’s vineyards (23.5million vines) are found in the Orange River valley and southern Kalahari. The area is known for its agriculture and interested travellers can see the longest line of date palms in the southern hemisphere, operating waterwheels and irrigation tunnels build by Cornish miners in as early as 1922.
Alongside natural and agricultural features, the route boasts a number of historical sites, museums and attractions including the German graves in Kakamas, Klipspringer and Gorge Walking Trail at Augrabies Falls National Park, Orange River gorge canoe trails, water rafting and hiking, game-viewing, bird watching, 4×4 trails/tours (self-drive or guided), extreme sports, mountain biking, historical and photographic tours and scenic flights.