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The People of Riemvasmaak

The name “Riemvasmaak” (Afrikaans for ‘tying together of leather strips / thongs) is said to have originated from a local legend of a Damara man who wanted to reach a certain mineral spring, along the Molopo river, in the hope of soothing his rheumatism. To reach the spring he had to lower himself down the rocky walls, so he tied together some strips of leather. The Khoe name “Konkaib” fell into disuse when the local people were forced to speak Afrikaans.

As the first land restitution case, Riemvasmaak has a special place in the annals of South African history. In 1994 some of the people who’d been forcebly removed from the area under the Apartheid government, retuned to their land. Known as ‘Riemvasmakers’ the people who returned to this land had to attempt to develop the land and build a sense of community, which has not always proved easy.

Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in the Northern Cape and an important source of revenue for the people of Riemvasmaak too.

This spectacular area with its towering granite canyons is owned and run by the community of Riemvasmakers. Best accessed with a 4×4 vehicle the rugged rocky scenery is striking.

Besides 4x4ing you can enjoy bathing in a natural outdoor hot spring, abseiling, river rafting, san rock art viewing and guided tours. Traditional dances and meals can be arranged and accommodation is in comfortable chalets that are perched on the edge of cliff walls.

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