Latest News - 9th October, 2013

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Orange River near Pella Orange River near Pella - Photo: Rehan Opperman

The French missionaries were a tough and resourceful bunch in the 1700 & 1800's. Some failed and went back to France, but a few stuck things out in this water scarce, mountainous region at a small (and often unreliable) natural spring, where they set out to bring Catholicism to the local San people. They called the spot Pella. Two of these missionaries, with no building skills and armed only with a photograph of a similar church in France, set about building a cathedral no less, in the dusty little village using their bare hands, local products and cement carted in by ox-wagon. The result is truly astounding and has been there for 150 plus years.

In the big flood some years ago, the church almost succumbed to the raging waters, with levels being recorded two meters up the walls. There were fears that the entire building would have to be demolished, but local busineses got together and raised sufficient funds to have the church properly restored to it's former glory. To walk out of the blazing desert sun, into the cool vaulted interior of this Cathedral is something special and hard to describe.

Pella is really not on any route. It is a destination and few people ever get to go there, other than the 4x4 adventure groups. So, if you are one of those people that long to see parts of your country that are truly lost in the mists of time, with history and tales of hardship to be told, then this is for you.

So if you go to Pella one day, be absolutely sure to visit the church. They also grow exceptionally tasty dates at Pella. The size of the community there rises and falls in tandem with the rain cycle. It is a tough place and definitely not for sissies!

It also lies a few kilometers away from the life giving Orange River, but first you will have to drive over Charles' Pass - a short, but fairly steep gravel road pass which will bring you to the river itself - a wonderful, cooling oasis after the heat of the interior. This is a dead-end and you will need to retrace your route back to Pella. Read all about Charles Pass and other interesting bits of information on Pella here

In terms of isolation and interest, it's in our Top 10 destinations.

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