The principal attractions of Aliwal North are two hot mineral springs, both of which have extremely high concentrations of minerals and gases. On the south side of the Orange River, close to an ancient fording place, two thermal springs surface at 34.4 degrees C. The daily flow is consistent; more than 2 million litres from one spring and 1 million litres from the other. From early times these springs were credited with curative properties and were visited by sufferers from ailments such as rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago and neuralgia.
The town’s mineral springs continue to draw visitors and the Spa Resort has been extensively developed. A park and garden surround them, and the water is piped into two large outdoor swimming pools and two children's pools while the main spring is enclosed.
Aliwal North also offers it visitors a number of historical buildings worth visiting which includes the Kerkplein Museum, a component of the Aliwal North Museum, as well as Anglo-Boer War Blockhouse which includes a Garden of Remembrance. For further outdoor activities and attractions, visitors can explore neighbouring towns such as Smithfield, Burgersdorp, Lady Grey or Barkly East which are all within 60 to 90 minutes away.
Aliwal North accommodation options include a few self-catering units, B&B’s and Guest Houses.
Aliwal North receives approximately 550 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during the Summer months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 30˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 18˚C.
There are daily flights into Bram Fischer International Airport, approximately 215 km’s away via the N6. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
The combination of ford and springs attracted people to the area and in 1848, when Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith, passed this way, he was asked by the settlers to establish a town. He formally founded the small town of Aliwal North in the Cape Province of South Africa in 1850. He named the town Aliwal North in memory of his victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Aliwal during the First Sikh War in India in 1846.
'North' was added to the name because it was intended that Mossel Bay would be renamed Aliwal. The park in the centre of Aliwal North, the Juana Square Gardens was named after Smith's wife Juana Maria de Los Dolores de Leon.
It lies on a strategic ford on the Orange River which was used by the Bushmen and the Voortrekkers. This was upgraded with a pontoon in 1872. Aliwal North developed simultaneously as a health resort and transport centre with the railway from East London reaching the town in 1885. This prompted rapid development as a commercial centre for the North-Eastern region of the British colony.
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