Spring is the perfect time of year to visit the Karoo frontier: Riemvasmaak
Words and Pictures: Chris Marais, www.karoospace.co.za
Deep in the Faraway Karoo, in a world of rocks, mountains and riverbeds, is the rural village of Riemvasmaak.
Riemvasmaak is rarely in the public eye, and normally visited only by the 4X4 crowd on their way to a very special canyon where they camp next to a hot spring. The old Damara folk from centuries ago bathed in the waters of this spring, said to have wonderful curative powers, especially for those suffering from rheumatism.
The Damara and Koranna people grazed their herds of goats in this hardscrabble country until they were ousted by the government in the 1970s. The military moved in, setting up a training ground. After the change of government in 1994, the land was returned to the children of the original Riemvasmakers.
The name ‘Riemvasmaak’ refers to the tightening of leather straps. The legend goes that stock thieves were once caught here and tied up in the Molopo River with leather straps. The next morning they had disappeared, leaving nothing but the loosened straps behind.
Nowadays, the people of Riemvasmaak welcome you to enjoy the stark scenery, stay over in special guest cabins or simply camp out near the fabled hot springs. The summers are particularly brutal up here, and winter nights can get very cold. Most visitors come in the shoulder seasons of September to October, and May to June.
Clarissa Damara Tel: +27 (0) 73 383 8812 / Mobile: +27 (0) 83 873