Green Kalahari, Northern Cape
Did you know?
The Gariep is the longest river in South Africa with a total length of 2 200 km.
Since time immemorial, the Green Kalahari, Northern Cape, has drawn people to its vast, pure landscape, with the life-force of the Gariep (Orange) river flowing through its midst. The region's earliest inhabitants, the San, were later joined by Nama and Koranna people, followed by European settlers who cultivated the Green Kalahari's fertile plains. Today, this stretch of river is flanked by vineyards and thriving animal and plant life.
Enter the Green Kalahari, South Africa's green desert, via Upington. This prosperous town on the main road to Namibia is within easy reach of Spitskop Nature Reserve, Augrabies Falls, and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Upington offers boating, fishing, adventure sports and South Africa's largest wine co-operative, the Orange River Wine Cellars.
Spitskop Nature Reserve lies just outside Upington. Herds of antelope roam its sandy flats, which are carpeted with flowers every year with the arrival of the summer rains. Good gravel roads ensure comfortable driving and game-viewing; or you can take one of three hiking trails for a more intimate experience of the land.
Some 120km west of Upington, lies Augrabies Falls National Park, a gem among Green Kalahari attractions. Here, South Africa's greatest waterfall thunders 60 metres down into a gorge 240m deep and 18km long. A place of extreme temperatures, the park hosts uniquely adapted animals such as mongoose, dassie, and the Cape clawless otter. The rare black rhino also lives here.
Keep on going 250km from Upington to be rewarded with the finest game-viewing in the Green Kalahari, Northern Cape. Some 3.6 million hectares large, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the few places big enough to support large-scale migration and predation. Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and dry riverbeds showcase antelope such as blue wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok and eland and predators such as hyena, cheetah, leopard and black-maned lion, not to mention birds of prey. Experience space and landscapes that will reach deep inside your soul and take the photos of a lifetime.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Northern Cape Tourism Authority
15 Dalham Road, Belgravia, Kimberley
Tel: +27 (0)53 833 1434
How to get here
Upington is 875 km from Johannesburg and 821 km Cape Town (about nine hours' drive) but has direct air links with both cities.
Best time to visit
Be prepared for extremely hot days and freezing nights if you choose to travel to the Green Kalahari in summer.
Around the area
In and around the Green Kalahari, look out for raisin factories, catfish farms, wine cellars, tearooms, date palm plantations, sheep farms, old mission stations, and Augrabies Falls.
Tours to do
Exciting tours include the Black Rhino Adventure and the Riemvasmaak 4x4 Trail.
It is advisable to hire a car to explore the Green Kalahari at leisure.
Length of stay
Anything less than a week in this wide open wilderness would feel rushed.
What to pack
A good hat, sunblock, binoculours, walking shoes, water
Where to stay
The Green Kalahari has accommodation to suit every taste, ranging from backpackers to campsites, caravan parks, self-catering, bed-and-breakfast, guest houses, lodges and hotels.