Orania was founded in 1991 as an Afrikaner-only village to promote the language of Afrikaans and Afrikaner culture. It was built as a temporary settlement for non-white construction workers building the nearby Vanderkloof Dam in 1963. It was then abandoned after the dam was completed in 1976.
The current town was formed when a group of Afrikaners bought the land. Since that time the town has grown substantially, today to a community of approximately 1,300 people, with several restaurants, hostels, and businesses. As an intentional community dedicated to Afrikaner culture, to settle in Orania one must identify as an Afrikaner. However, persons of all backgrounds are welcome to visit the town.
Due to its nature as an "all-white" town, Orania is controversial and while some see it as an last outpost of Apartheid, others see it as an cultural expression of self-reliance (Orania pretty much runs itself, providing its own services for its citizens). In 1995, Nelson Mandela visited Orania to meet with Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, who was Prime Minister of South Africa from 1958 to 1966 and is widely known as "the architect of Apartheid".
Orania is split in half by road R369 that runs trough the town. Hopetown is 40 km north. The closest larger town with regular air connections is Kimberley, approximately 160 km away (1 hour 40 minutes' drive). You can hire a car at Kimberley Airport.
Orania has an airstrip (vliegveld).
Public transport is very limited.
The town is small and you can easily get around on foot. It's also possible to rent a bike.
Almost all signs are in Afrikaans only. However most people in Orania speak excellent English, so you will be able to make yourself understood.
The town is on the banks of the Orange River, making it a great location for fishing.
A good start is at the tourist office Orania Inligtingskantoor by the gas station, open weekdays 08:30-16:30 and Saturday 16:30. They sell maps, clothing, and local produce. They offer tours at 09:00, 11:00 and 14:00 on weekdays, and 09:00 and 11:00 on Saturdays. Tours include access to the Hendrik Verwoerd museum.
The cultural history museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-15:00.
There is a gas station and a well-stocked supermarket along R369 in the town.
The town uses (alongside the rand) its own currency, the ora, which is pegged to the rand. If you are a tourist, you will get all change in rand as the ora has no value outside of Orania. But it makes a good souvenir!
The Orania Oewerhotel has a restaurant down by the Orange River. There are also several small restaurants in the centre of the town.
- Orania Oewer Restaurant, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A family restaurant where locals and tourists gather from the surrounding areas. Beautiful view over the Orange River. Many dishes of the Afrikaner cuisine are served.
- Skildershoek, just across the main road from the tourist office.
- Bavaria Brouery: just south of the tourist office on the main road.
- Grootrivier Brouery
There are a couple of small B&Bs and camp sites.
- Orania Oewerhotel en Spa, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 08:00, check-out: 18:00. A 4-star hotel with a small spa and restaurant.
Cell phone reception is good, and you can buy Wi-Fi at the Oewerhotel.