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Like a moon in a starless sky, Kuruman shines bright as a major town in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Referred to as the oasis of the Kalahari, the town is the economic powerhouse of the region.
Life-giving fresh water from a perpetual spring in Kuruman drew travellers to the region for many centuries. Prior to the establishment of the town, a mission station was constructed – by hand – in 1838 by Scottish missionary Robert Moffat. Moffat built a church, residences and a garden, and dug a 4km clay canal from the spring to water his plants. The mission station ran successfully until the discovery of gold and diamonds and in 1885 the British swiftly annexed the area and planned a town. The town’s name is believed to be taken from a San leader, Kudumane.
Kuruman is a welcome reprieve from the hot, barren surrounding plains of the Kalahari Desert, the town’s green expanses providing a hint of the vast untapped water resources that lie hidden deep under the ground.
Top 6 reasons to visit Kuruman
1. Take a walk to the natural spring, called The Eye, that pumps out millions of litres of water daily into a pond and canals, and is located in a picturesque park with beautiful trees. The pond is home to an endangered species of fish.
2. Visit the Moffat Mission Station to see the old stone church, once the largest building outside the Cape colony, the tree under which the intrepid British explorer David Livingston proposed to Moffat’s daughter and remnants of the old garden and clay canals, now reinforced with concrete.
3. The Kalahari Meerkat Project is a study being conducted on the sociable meerkats residing in the Kuruman River Reserve. Visit to check out these cute creatures as well as some game viewing of the regal gemsbok, fox, black-backed jackal and caracal, to name a few of the many species found in the reserve.
4. The Kuruman Country Club has a 9-hole golf course that is surprisingly green against the stark natural surrounds. An onsite golf pro is available to offer course advice.
5. The Wonderwerk Cave has been declared a national heritage site where discoveries of rock art, controlled fires, Stone Age artefacts and prehistoric animal bones were made. The cave extends for 140m into the earth.
6. Travel to the Boesmansgat Sinkhole, at 300m deep is one of the deepest fresh water sinkholes in the world. Many cave diving records have been set here, as have a few deaths of renowned cave divers. At the entrance to the cave is a moving poem written by Tilla Louw, an accurate depiction of the intrigue and danger that this sinkhole represents.
Airports are located in Upington and Kimberley, both roughly 250km from Kuruman. Kuruman has an airstrip, however, craft classes are unknown, ask your host for more details. Car rental agencies are stationed at the airports or you could order a vehicle online. Major bus liners operate bus services through Kuruman. A few shuttle service companies and metered taxis offer transport in and around the town.
Did you know?
Not only did missionary Robert Moffat translate the bible into SeTswana, a previously unwritten language, but he was also the first person to print and distribute bibles in Africa.
British explorer David Livingstone arrived with Moffat on his return from England in 1841. He stayed in the mission station in Kuruman, married Moffat’s daughter Mary and went on to achieve fame in his bid to discover the source of the Nile River.
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