Citrusdal, as one might imagine, got its name from the vast plantations of citrus farmed in and around the town. With temperatures heating up during the day, the smell of oranges floats through the town during the summer. Throughout the growing season, the specks of orange dot the roadside, and serve as a constant temptation to pull over and sneak a taste when nobody’s looking.
The small Afrikaans-speaking community has deep roots in the area and its members have adapted to the seasonal rhythms of farming life: During the cold winter months of May to July, the valley is rich with the perfume of orange blossom and freshly picked oranges, while the sweet smell of fermenting grape juice fills the air during the sweltering months of January and February.
Oranges were first grown in South Africa in 1661, when Jan van Riebeeck planted some trees on his farm outside of Cape Town. Shortly thereafter, over 1000 trees were imported from Portugal and planted in the Company Gardens. By the late 18th century, orange farming had spread to the Olifants River Valley, paving the way for the Citrusdal we know today.
The colour does have another meaning, however. Piekenierskloof is named after the Dutch piekeniers, or pikemen, who guarded the entrance to the pass in days gone by – and, as anyone who has ever watched a European football game could attest, the Dutch are rather fond of the colour orange. Historically, this stems from the fact that the Dutch Royal family hails from the House of Orange-Nassau, and has come to signify the country’s independence and national pride.
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