Cape Town - Keimoes

Northern Cape

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Keimoes as seen from the Tierberg

Today we continue with our travels to the Northern Cape and visit the town of Keimoes. This town although it did not seem like it to us is built on the biggest island in the Orange River. Being close to water this town is a lush green when most of the surrounding area are semi desert and a dust brown colour.There are a large number of smaller islands in the Orange River and most of these are connected by either road bridges or hanging bridges over the river. Of course when floods occur people can get cut off from the mainland. It is also quite daunting to cross the river on these shaky bridges with the river in flood.

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Road bridge at Kanoneiland crossing the Orange River

The floods also cause a lot of damage to the irrigated islands but residents of the area have learned to live with the problem and plan for the odd flood that occurs.The people living in the Keimoes area don't all agree on the origin of the name of their town.

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Roman Catholic Mission Church

One faction believes that Klaas Lukas, the Koranna river-people leader, established the village and called it Keimoes (mouse nest) after the colonies of mice living there. Others believe that the name originated from the Nama words ‘gei’ (great) and ‘mus’ (fountain or eye).Others believe that the name stems from the natural water fountain near the Roman Catholic Mission Station which is known as the Big Eye or Keimoes.The most widely accepted explanation of where the name Keimoes ( Big Eye) comes from stems from the vistas and panoramas that can be seen from the Tierberg. One can see for miles in all directions and needs a Big Eye to take it all in.The town has a number of interesting features going for it.

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View from the Tierberg of the contrasting landscapes around Keimoes

One of them is the Tierberg ( a small mountain just outside the village) which is reached via a short gravel road up the steep incline along the slopes of the Tierberg. Here and there the road has had to be tarred as in the wet season cars would not be able to navigate through the slippery mud on the steep inclines. The views of the surrounding areas of Keimoes are spectacular from this vantage point. (see them above) I enjoyed the views but had difficulty finding the Orange River which apparently flows around Keimoes.

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Tierberg litter

Something that was easier to spot was all the litter and broken bottles lying about at the top of the Tierberg. Unfortunately litter seems to be a problem in some of the towns and villages of the Northern Cape.

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Irrigation canal flowing through Keimoes

Another interesting attraction is the irrigation canal which runs through the town. There are a number of them, the first one was however completed in 1883 and still supplies water to the area.

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Water wheel in the canal

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Closeup of the scoops that send water off into subsidiary canals

The canal which flows through the centre of the village has an old water wheel which was used in times past. This wheel which has been reconstructed is turned by the running water in the canal and as it turns scoops up water which it then dumps into a large funnel which for now is deposited back into the canal but in times past was lead away by another smaller canal to irrigate the surrounding vineyards and fields.

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The Orange River on its way to Keimoes

The Orange River although dammed in several places along its course has a permanent flow of water which ranges between 50 and 1800 Kumek (Cubic megalitres) depending on the season of the year. From this river the village of Keimoes is allowed to draw 11 040 473 cubic metres of water annually.

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Keimoes Tourism in the old Dutch Reformed Mission Church

There are also a number of interesting old churches in the area and one of them is today being used as the tourism information centre. The lady in charge of the tourism centre is a mine of information and it is worth your while to stop and visit her on your travels through the area.

Not only is she a mine of information, she is also working with the local Municipalities and wine farms in the area to set up the Kokerboom – Food and Wine route which will run from Kakamas in the west to Upington in the north east. A distance of about a 100 kilometres through some spectacular desert countryside.The Catholic Mission Station as well as the local mill were completed in 1889.

The mission church has a school attached to it as well. For a real study in contrasts of sights and sounds a visit to the Northern Cape is a must. Why not visit the Northern Cape on your next holiday in South Africa. It will be a completely different experience to what you would normally be used to enjoying.

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