Saturday, June 25, 2011

Visiting Upington

The floods in January washed away a viewing platform at the Augrabies Falls

As the business hub of the Northern Cape, Upington is a vibrant town with a population of about 72 000 people.  It is also the main shopping area for the surrounding towns, even Springbok.  In the lush Orange River valley grape farming – with off-shoots raisins and wine - is the main source of income. About 40% of South Africa’s export grape crop comes from the area and since the late 1960’s wine making from grapes supplied by about 750 farms have become an important industry. 

The river is also a tourist attraction, with river rafting, water skiing and yellowfish and barbell angling as the main drawcards.

But, the early floods in January have hit the grape farming community quite hard, with many farmers left without a crop. The loss of income is affecting the whole town, he believes. It has also been bad for the fishing trade, as anglers don’t come looking for the record breaking barbels that put areas like Opskeepkans on the map. 

The previous day, at the Augrabies Falls, we got a glimpse of the destruction that too much water in this arid region can cause, with the viewing platform closest to where the white water thunders down into the ravine, swept away. When that happened in January, 4 700 cubic meter per second rushed past, now it is down to 1 200 cubic meter per second of fast flowing falling water topped by a rainbow creating a mesmerising spectacle . 


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