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The Orange River from the border bridge between Noordoewer and Vioolsdrif. Extreme heat and sunlight cause visible evaporation.
The Orange River from the border bridge between Noordoewer and Vioolsdrif. Extreme heat and sunlight cause visible evaporation.
Vioolsdrif is located in Northern Cape
Vioolsdrif is located in South Africa
Vioolsdrif is located in Africa
 Vioolsdrif shown within Northern Cape
Coordinates: 28°46′30″S 17°37′30″E / 28.77500°S 17.62500°E / -28.77500; 17.62500Coordinates: 28°46′30″S 17°37′30″E / 28.77500°S 17.62500°E / -28.77500; 17.62500
Country South Africa
Province Northern Cape
District Namakwa
Municipality Nama Khoi
 • Total 1.98 km2 (0.76 sq mi)
Elevation 180 m (590 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 599
 • Density 300/km2 (780/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 18.3%
 • Coloured 75.0%
 • Indian/Asian 0.7%
 • White 4.2%
 • Other 1.8%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Afrikaans 88.4%
 • Tswana 4.0%
 • Xhosa 2.2%
 • Sotho 1.7%
 • Other 3.6%
Postal code (street) 8246
PO box 8246
Area code 027

Vioolsdrif is a village on the Orange River in the north-western part of South Africa, known as Namaqualand.

Origin of name[edit]

The name in Afrikaans means 'the ford (shallow river crossing) of the violin'. It is reportedly named after Jan Viool ("John Violin"), who is said to have played the fiddle in these parts in the nineteenth century. Some say he was a Nama man, who used to guide ox-wagons across the ford. An accomplished player, he would fiddle away merrily on the river bank while waiting for wagons to arrive. These claims await elaboration.


A road bridge here on the N7 national road links South Africa with Namibia and the town is the South African border post.[2] At the other end of the bridge is the small Namibian village of Noordoewer (meaning "north bank" in Afrikaans). The area is profoundly arid and the crossing is overlooked by steep and spectacular sandstone cliffs hundreds of metres in height.

In general, the surrounding region is almost unpopulated. There are small pockets of fertile alluvial soil along the course of the river and these are used for growing crops, such as dates and melons, under irrigation.


Vioolsdrif has several campsites and motels for motorists passing through the border. Many tour operators have set up their base camps for rafting tours on the Orange River.


There are two seasons. The short winter season lasts from about May to July. Almost no rain falls and the weather is hot. The summer season lasts from August to April. It is very hot and there is no rain whatsoever. Vioolsdrif is officially one of the hottest places in South Africa; on 27 October 2015 a maximum temperature of 47°C was recorded.[3] The mean annual temperature is 76°F (24°C) and temperatures above 86°F (30°C) is measured on an average of 220 days (60%) of the year. Daytime maximum temperatures above 110°F (43°C) and nighttime minimums of 80°F (27°C) are a regular feature in summer.[4]