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The charming town of Aliwal North can be found between the two provinces of the Eastern Cape and the Free State as it borders along the banks of the well-known Orange River. Aliwal North was named in tribute to the then Governor of the Cape Colony Sir Harry Smith in 1850; this came after Smith won the Battle of Aliwal against the Sikhs during the First Sikh War in India in 1846.
The gardens in the middle of the town known as Juana Square Gardens is named after Smith’s wife Juana. Aliwal North would most likely have remained in obscurity were it not for the fact that it lies right on a strategic ford on the Orange River, which in all likelihood led to the development of a railway line from East London. The town’s other claim to fame and undoubtedly a big tourism point, is its two hot springs that are widely known to contain large concentrations of minerals and gases. Because of these springs, a spa resort and hotel has been opened in Aliwal North and often attracts holidaymakers from all over the country eager to soak themselves in the indoor and outdoor pools, particularly as the waters are reported to soothe ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis.
Other noteworthy attractions in this Eastern Cape gem includes the Kerkplein Museum, the Garden of Remembrance which features a British blockhouse, and the Buffelspruit Nature Reserve which has a rich assortment of wildlife such as buffalo and antelope. The much talked about and very popular skiing resort of Tiffindell’s is in easy access of Aliwal North and opens up the unique opportunity of enjoying snow activities at the only complex of its kind currently found in South Africa.
For a more down to earth experience there are guest houses. Less expensive than hotels, they offer a more homey environment, as well as more privacy. Converted from a private house it’s a much gentler environment and for those with furry friends, there are also pet friendly options. They are usually well situated with shops and places of interest nearby. Being so small it offers a much more personal and intimate attention to it’s upkeep, leaving you with a more polished and homely experience.