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Although it is one of the more interesting cultural destinations in South Africa, Orania is often overlooked. This small town occupies an idyllic position on the banks of the Gariep (Orange) River, and has an interesting history. Originally built by the Department of Water Affairs in the 1960’s to house people working on the Vanderkloof Dam and associated canals, it was abandoned when the project was completed. It stood empty for many years until, in 1991, it was bought by a group of Afrikaners who wanted to start a homeland. They purchased a large farm nearby and have rebuilt the town, trying gallantly to instil some character into the bland engineering-project-style buildings.

Certainly, this is not everybody’s cup of tea, but it is an interesting part of South Africa’s culture and history. Soon after his release, Nelson Mandela visited Orania and had tea with the widow of BJ Vorster – the acknowledged architect of Apartheid. Yes, South Africa is full of surprises.

Orania is situated on the R369, about 50km from Hopetown on the N12, and about 150km south of Kimberley.

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