The Northern Cape is the largest of South Africa’s provinces and the most sparsely populated. Despite this, the Northern Cape has plenty to offer visitors, whether their interests lie in the origins of the diamond industry, the Anglo-Boer War, wildlife, the brilliant spring flowers of Namaqualand, canoeing on the mighty Orange River or enjoying the clear skies and open spaces of the Hantam and Upper Karoo.
CLIMATE: The Northern Cape experiences a diverse range of climatic conditions because of the respective regions and altitudes. The Northern Cape enjoys a summer rainfall, but this is infrequent. The summer months have long, hot summer days and cool evenings. Winter days are moderate, but the nights are very cold with temperatures often dropping below zero. Snow in winter and heavy frost falls at night are common.
SHOPPING: There are many shopping malls, arts and craft shops, and many ethic vendors on the beachfront. Good buys include mohair products such as jerseys, rugs and blankets; the famous Karoo Lamb, dried fruit, diamonds, jewellery and gems.
TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS:
The Diamond Field:
This area is known as the prairie country of Southern Africa, with sun-drenched plains, covered in grass and acacia thorn trees. To the geologists this is a bewildering delight, and for the tourist the “Diamond Way” is an exciting journey, taking one back in time.
Today the city is a prosperous, thriving metropolis worthy of the title, “the Diamond Capital Of The World”. The city is geared for tourists, with plenty to offer in terms of accommodation, restaurants, shopping malls and attractions. See a replica of the town during the greatest diamond rush the world has ever seen, as well as ‘Eureka’ – the world’s first recorded diamond discovery at the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine museum.
The seaside estuary of Groenriviersmond (Green River Mouth) lies Southwest of Garies and offers excellent fishing and crayfish diving opportunities.
Spring time sees this region transformed from a desert landscape into a carpet of colourful wild flowers, attracting many visitors. Also an adventure tourist’s playground, the region offers hiking, canoeing and 4×4 trails. The coastline is popular with fishermen and hosts a booming crayfish industry. Diamonds are also mined from the sea and copper is mined too. The world-famous Richtersveld National Park is found in this region.
Millions of years ago, this area was an inland sea and over time it has transformed into an arid and rugged landscape with wide open plains and mountains. This region is renowned by astronomers for its remarkable night skies and is home to the South African Astronomical Observatory. The region is also known for its spring wild flowers, and is home to the rare Sterboom.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park:
Africa’s first transfrontier park, Kgalagadi “land of thirst” is shared with and crosses the border into Botswana to facilitate the migration of wildlife and the movement of free-roaming predators; red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob ensure excellent opportunities for game viewing and photography. Fifty-eight species of mammal and more than 400 plant species share the desert and dry savannah, while approx. 260 species of bird, including at least 20 species of large raptor share the sky.
Richtersveld National Park:
Southern Africa’s largest mountain desert park, the Richtersveld is 160 000ha of lava mountains and sandy plains situated in the north-western crook of the Orange River. It is also one of the world’s most precious and fragile eco-systems. Its strange rock formations shaped and sculpted by the wind and sun, is a land for those keen to ‘rough it’. Visitors can explore the area from the comfort of a 4×4 or by paddling long stretches of the river.
Dominating this region are the lush vineyards and the massive Orange River, which meanders through a giant valley. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the Augrabies Falls National Park – with its famous Black Rhino Aventure, are not to be missed.
Augrabies Falls National Park:
The Augrabies Falls, which is one of the five biggest waterfalls in the world, plunges a sheer 56m into a rolling, turbulent maelstrom of foam, mist and rainbows said to contain untold diamond wealth and a river monster. This is where the black rhino can be found and visitors can also go on game drives.
The sun-drenched Kalahari, with its ancient, undulating landscape and endless horizons, evoke memories of a land before time. This region is home to “The Eye” a permanent and abundant source of daily water. Hunting in the area is popular and the Kalahari is home to over 40 raptors and vulture species and 7 owl species.