The Northern Cape province is the largest, least-populated and one of the most scenic of South Africa's nine provinces. It's the vast, remote, rugged nature of this landscape that seeps into your soul.
It is a province of many diverse cultures, and of frontier history and brave missionaries. It offers countless challenges for adrenaline junkies, hikers, hunters and 4×4 adventurers. It has impressive parks with endless game and some of the most unique flora in the world.
Much of its life and adventure is dependent on the sweeping tide of the Orange River, a 2 000km stretch of natural magnificence dubbed the !Garib (great river) by the Khoisan. It has ribbons of green along its banks that contrast with the arid surrounds. At some places it is 6km wide with an impassable torrent; at others, scarcely a stream.
It consists mainly of a semi-desert landscape - from the rocky plains of the Upper Karoo through to the red dunes of the Kalahari with a remote stretch of coastline on the cold Atlantic Ocean.
The Kalahari Desert can be likened to a colossal sweeping river of another kind. Its red sands that once rippled and moved are now mostly stable and home to hundreds of diverse species of flora and fauna.
A place of vastness and silence, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (bigger than some countries) extends across much of the Kalahari. Every now and then, the unmistakable cry of an African fish eagle rings out, or the gut-wrenching roar of a black-maned Kalahari lion carries across the landscape.
The openness continues to the vast koppie-strewn plains of the Karoo and Namakwa, where hardy succulents complement sweet grasses, and the clean, clear air is bedecked with stars at night.
Photographers, writers and orators fail to adequately communicate the experience. After watching springbok pronk through the veld, hundreds of wildebeest migrating, a wild cat stalking its prey and shooting stars sprinting across the sky, you will realise that this is a destination you can’t merely read about or drive through – it's a destination you have to participate in.
In this largely unpopulated expanse of South Africa you'll be amazed by carpets of flowers, stretching as far as the eye can see, juxtaposed with jagged mountains that lure adventurers to test their mettle, fascinating lunar-like landscapes, ancient cultures and incredible national parks that make this a must-visit province for anyone that loves the great outdoors and has a sense of adventure.
If you love wide open spaces, wild flowers or Africa’s big cats, you can lose your heart here.
- Major Stone Age sites include Wonderwerk Cave near Kuruman, and Canteen Kopje near Barkly West
- Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre
- Transfrontier National Park
- Namaqualand daisies in flower
- Stone walled ruins at Dithakong north east of Kuruman
- Archaeological sites at Kathu
- Black maned lions
- Ai Ais Richtersveld National Park
- Kgalagadi Park
The history of this region is deeply rooted in a proud mining tradition.
Museums and memorials provide visitors with the opportunity to explore the historic influences that has shaped the province.
Its rich archaeological heritage traces ancient tribes like the San (Bushmen), Nama and Griqua and pays homage to its diverse history. Some of the country’s premier rock art sites with over 400 rock engravings are located between Kimberley and Barkly West
The Northern Cape's weather is typical of most desert and semi desert areas. It is a large, dry region of fluctuating temperatures and rainfall (50-350mm per annum).
Summer (October-March) temperatures vary between 30-40 c.
Night time temperatures in winter (June-July) may well drop below freezing point, but winter days are warm and pleasant.
Humidity is very low and we advise you to keep a stock of lozenges to alleviate the possibility of a dry throat.
It is strongly recommended that you take along a good sun protection lotion of factor 8 or higher
Visit between August and September (in spring) to see the spectacular wild flower display in Namaqualand. Autumn (April and May) and spring are probably the best seasons, as the temperatures are more moderate.