The Vaalharts Valley, situated in the north-east corner of the Northern Cape bordering the North West Province, was started as an agricultural irrigation scheme during the 1930's. Due to the depression - the aftermath of the terrible drought of the late 20's - the scheme was initiated to create employment and settle farmers on irrigated land. It derived its name from the two rivers, the Vaal and the Harts Rivers which flow through it.
A number of towns are dispersed along the valley of which Vaalharts, Hartswater and Jan Kempdorp are the largest. The towns are self-supportive with all modern amenities. The 38 kilometre Poplar lane along the road to Hartswater is one of the longest poplar lanes in the world and was planted in 1937.
Vaalharts is still the largest irrigation scheme in South Africa. Main crops include lucerne, cotton, maize, ground-nuts, and of late grapes, citrus and pecan nuts while fruits such as apricots, watermelon, peaches and olives for the export market are on the increase. As is the case elsewhere, agriculture diversified considerably during the last decade. Probably the most prominent feature of diversification is the Wine Cellar while the local Co-op made history by producing a very popular charcoal made from compressed ground-nut shells.
The area is typical open Savanna Kalahari thornveld with characteristic camelthorn trees in abundance. Shrubs and trees indigenous to the area are various Acacia trees some of which have descriptive local names like "Katdoring", "Haak-en-Steek" and "Trassiebos". The junction of the Kalahari thornveld, the grasslands of the Highveld and the Karoo is probably the main reason why the plant and bird-life is so unique.
Visitors will find a kaleidoscope of game farms and luxurious airconditioned accommodation establishments in the valley. The valley also boasts first class restaurants, curio shops, art galleries and recreational activities. There are various hiking trails available along the two rivers, on the game farms and at the Ganspan Pan. A visit to the nearby site where the Taung skull was excavated or a cup of tea in a rose garden, a visit to the storytellers of the region to listen to the many ghost stories and folk lore, are but few of the entertainments on offer.
Today this idyllic valley is a veritable garden route in the heart of South Africa.