Touwsrivier is a community of approximately 8000 people and is also home to the World's largest CPV solar plant! It is located in the Breede Valley Municipality in the Western Cape, South Africa and can be seen from the N1 highway. Established in the 1800s, this peaceful community has experienced severe developmental knocks in recent decades due to its decreased importance in the locomotives sector. Calling it; a ‘Railway Town' is something of a mistake! However understandable because it did began its life as the first major staging post, locomotive depot and marshalling yard after Cape Town.
It is located on the river of the same name, about 160 kilometers, North-East of Cape Town. The Touwsrivier CPV Solar Project is located just outside of the Town and supplies 50 MW to the National electrical grid.
Sir John Molteno, the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony between 1872 and 1878, formulated his railway scheme he sent for his consulting engineer, who asked him what was the route he desired. Molteno asked for a map of South Africa, which was brought to him. Taking a ruler he drew his pen along it, in a direct line from Cape Town to Beaufort West. "But," said the engineer, "that means you go slap bang through the Hex River Mountains." "Never mind," said Molteno, "that is the way I want it to go." The South African Railways Class 23 Locomotive is on display in the Municipal Gardens.
Once a thriving Railway Junction, Touws River is now a small Town that lies at the seldom flowing; Touws and Donkies Rivers. However, despite its declining fortunes as a town, Touws River is set in a most beautiful part of the Great Karoo and offers many opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Hiking, horse riding and 4X4 trails and to the north is the popular Kaggakamma reserve with ancient bushman painting sites which are 6000 years old. The nature reserve is also home to a variety of wildlife and bird species.
Touws River is also on the Flowers Route so the best time to visit would be between July and September when the countryside is alive with the beautiful shades of Karoo flowers. The towns name is the Hottentot word for “gate” and is also regarded the gateway to the famous Route 62, the longest wine route in the World!
Other interesting and unique attractions include a steam engine graveyard and most interesting of all the Loganda Pillars, used for astronomical calculations in the late 1880’s. There is also the Kaggakamma reserve to the north of Touws River, where ancient San painting sites are said to be 6000 years old.
'Touws' is the Hottentot word for ‘gate’ and the town is regarded as the gateway to Route 62, the longest wine route in the world, and as a ‘doorway’ to the Karoo. The town is also on the national flower route, which, between July and September, is alive with the vivid shades of Karoo flowers. Touws River is also home to the Cape’s famous fynbos, succulent Karoo and rare renosterveld vegetation and its wide spaces and beautiful views make it a wonderful space in which to unwind.