Did you know?
The name Riemvasmaak, which means 'tie a piece of leather tightly', comes from the Khoi word 'konkaib', which also means ‘to tie leather thongs'.
The Riemvasmaak Hot Springs are located in a deep ravine bordered by 80m-high granite cliffs, north of the Augrabies Falls, about 60km from the small Northern Cape town of Kakamas.
The area known as Riemvasmaak spans 75 000ha of rugged and remote desert-mountain wilderness between the Orange and Molopo rivers and is very remote – it's an area known for its rugged wilderness.
The Riemvasmaak Hot Springs are the product of volcanic eruptions. Though these have long since ceased, deep underground activity still heats the waters of these springs.
The space in which the two pools are situated is made up of magnificent, lunar-like surroundings; unique vegetation that is marked by indigenous camel thorn and shepherd’s trees; and wildlife that includes creatures from hyraxes (also known as 'dassies') to antelope and baboon. Raptors such as the Verreaux and fish eagle breed here, while pale-winged starlings are prolific.
Accommodation is available in cleverly designed self-catering chalets that blend into the rocky surrounds and offer great views. Once without electricity, they are now equipped with power and hot water, but visitors are advised to bring drinking water, food and towels.
Arrangements can be made at the local tourism office for meals. One can also arrange to have a meal at a local home and spend time with the people of Riemvasmaak village.
Other than the natural hot springs, tourists are drawn to Riemvasmaak by its 4x4 trails and scenic hiking trails.
Under apartheid policies during the 1960s, the inhabitants of Riemvasmaak were split up and forcibly relocated to areas a long distance away, while their lands were taken by the then-South African Defence Force for use as a military training ground.
After democracy in 1994, the Riemvasmaakers reclaimed their lands, making history by lodging the first land-restitution case in the new South Africa.