Cape Town is blessed with a number of sweet-water springs.  If you’ve ever been to Lady Ann Barnard’s bath in Kirstenbosch, and tasted the water there, you’ll know that that’s one.  There’s another lesser-known one in Newlands, and many more dotted throughout the city.  In fact, as far as I’m aware, all of SAB’s beer is made from this natural (free!) source of spring water.

Some springs are being used to good purpose (drinking water, beer), but many more pour straight out into the gutters and tumble out to sea, wasted.  In a world where water is becoming scarcer and scarcer, it seems completely scandalous that we should be throwing away quite so much potable water every single day.

An organisation working hard to bring awareness to these natural springs (and to water resources in Cape Town in general) is Reclaim Camissa.  Camissa is an ancient Khoi name for Cape Town, meaning ‘the place of sweet waters’.  Reclaim Camissa wants to put in place the infrastructure to “connect people to this vital resource, with beautiful parks; pedestrian walkways; and urban public places by celebrating the waters that link mountain to sea, past to future, and people to the environment”.

I think what they’re doing is amazing.  Have a look at the plans for the proposed Newlands Sporting & Heritage Precinct as an example of what could be achieved… (not officially a Reclaim Camissa project, as far as I know, but connected – and doesn’t it look awesome?).

Anyway, to celebrate World Water Day next week, Reclaim Camissa, in association with Figure of 8, will be holding awareness and fundraising walking tours of Camissa.  It is an opportunity to learn, to have fun and to make a contribution to Reclaim Camissa.

The tours are all about the natural and cultural history of the Mother City, founded and settled because of her water resources. The duration of the walk is 4.5 hours = 3 hours outdoors overland and 1.5 hours underground in the tunnel.

They are offering 2 tours daily at 9am and 1pm, from 19-25 March 2012. The cost is R400pp, which may seem like a lot, but it includes your gumboots and headlamp for the duration of the tunnel adventure and covers the costs of transportation, permits and having emergency medical services on standby (something I’d be happy about when wondering about in dark tunnels under the city). All proceeds after costs are for the benefit of RECLAIM CAMISSA.

For more information and bookings – please email:

Walking Tour details:

The walk will cover approximately half of Camissa and include the explanation of our natural history, some of the cultural stories associated with our water system and the possible way forward to a more sustainable water future in Cape Town, according to RECLAIM CAMISSA’s vision.

Starting in Deer Park at the top of Deer Park Drive at the boom (opposite the SANParks ablution block) we will take a short walk uphill to De Grendel – ‘the lock’
We then commence our descent, following the path of the water – past the Lower Platteklip Waterfall; the Platteklip Dam and its infrastructure; the Kramat of Seyed Abdoul Haq al Quaderi; the (Bio) slow sand filter; the Platteklip Mill; the wash houses and Raaswater .

Onwards to the old Oranjezicht Farmstead; the Stadtsfontein and Field of Springs; the old Platteklip Street; Molteno Reservoir and Graaff’s Hydro-Electric and down to the Zorgvliet Farmstead and the last remaining of Cape Town’s water collection points – the Hurling Swaai-Pump.

Past the Twistniet Fields; the Molteno Spring; the Waterhof Spring to the old Service Reservoirs; ending at the spring in Weltevreden Street.

Figure of 8 will then transport you to a manhole where you will follow the route of the old Vaarsche River, underground for approximately 1-1.5 hours, in the tunnel to the Castle.
An experience not to be missed!

When: 2 tours daily at 9am and 1pm, from 19-25 March 2012
Where: Starts in Deer Park, ends at The Castle.
Cost:R400pp (bookings:

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