Kakamas is a town founded in 1898 and located in the Northern Cape province, on the banks of the Orange River. 80 km’s southwest of Upington. Along the hand-built irrigation canals at Kakamas 11 waterwheels are still used. To some, the town’s name originates from the Khoi word, ‘gagamas’ (brown), referring to the red clay of the area with which women daub their faces. To most, though, Kakamas is a Koranna word meaning ‘poor pasture’ and ‘vicious, charging ox’.

Legend has it that grazing in the vicinity was poor and, when cattle were driven through the river’s drifts, some turned on their drivers. Today, the name reflects poorly on a fertile valley in the Lower Orange River, graced with vineyards, cotton and lucerne fields.

Augrabies Falls Waterfall in the Orange River is located 40 km’s north-west of Kakamas.

The drought of 1895-97 was followed by an outbreak of rinderpest, leaving many farmers destitute. Knysna’s Dutch Reformed Church minister, BPJ Marchand, sometimes called the father of Kakamas, played a leading role in saving people from ruin. The river islands of Marchand, Zoetap and Neus became a labour colony for the poor.

So successful were their farming ventures that full title to the land was granted them. In 1930, the church divided an area in central Kakamas into 40 residential plots.This was the beginning of Kakamas township. Cultivating grapes for raisins began in 1960 and table grapes in 1980. Today, they are exported worldwide.

Kakamas falls under the Kai !Garib Local Municipality which is a Category B municipality situated along the Orange River within the ZF Mgcawu District in the Northern Cape Province. It is bordered by Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality in the north-east and Namibia in the north-west. It is the second-largest of the five municipalities that make up the district, accounting for a quarter of its geographical area. It is characterised by its unique landscape, with the Kalahari Desert on the one side and the Orange River on the other side.

Cities/Towns close to Kakamas are Eksteenskuil, Keimoes and Kenhardt.

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 9,538
Young (0-14) 30,7%
Working Age (15-64) 63,4%
Elderly (65+) 5,9%
Dependency ratio 57,6
Sex ratio 96,8
Population density 2098 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 5%
Higher education aged 20+ 7,5%
Matric aged 20+ 22,7%
Number of households 2,164
Average household size 4,3
Female headed households 40,9%
Formal dwellings 91,6%
Housing owned/paying off 68,2%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 87,6%
Weekly refuse removal 96,7%
Piped water inside dwelling 74,7%
Electricity for lighting 97,9%


Return to the Northern Cape Towns/Cities page or visit the Northern Cape Tourism page.