Did you know?
By the time mining activities at Kimberley's Big Hole stopped in 1914, 2 722kg of diamonds had been extracted from 22,5-million tons of excavated earth.
Most of the Northern Cape province lies south of the powerful Orange River and comprises desert and semi-desert landscapes. Its arid plains and rocky outcrops form the ideal backdrop to the extraordinary Northern Cape incentive activities on offer here.
During August and September the Namaqualand region breaks out into wild flowers. The spectacular display attracts more than 100 000 visitors every year and photographic safaris are very popular. You can explore this region of the Northern Cape in a vehicle, on foot or on horseback.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the largest nature conservation areas in southern Africa and one of the largest protected natural ecosystems in the world. The park has a surface area of more than two million hectares and is one of the best places in the world to see rare black-maned lions. Once you have experienced its sheer size, clear skies, flamboyant sunsets, brilliant starry nights and incredible silence, you are sure to want more.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the few places where the traditional Kalahari Bushmen or San still practise their ancient ways, and you can go on guided trails with Bushmen trackers who share their stories, knowledge and skills. Visit a local craft village, see San craftsmen at work, learn about medicinal plants and follow African wildcat, jackal or aardvark tracks. Your guide will demonstrate how the San chew roots as a substitute for water and how they defend themselves against lions by holding burning grass above their heads.
The Richtersveld National Park is situated in north-western Namaqualand. Here the landscape has a starkness to it that most visitors experience as a lunar-like landscape. The area is home to the Nama people, who are mainly sheep or goat-herders and live off the land. The Richtersveld is popular with 4x4 enthusiasts and nature lovers who truly want to get away from it all.
The diamond town of Kimberley is also in the Northern Cape and home to the Kimberley Mine Museum. Part of the museum includes viewing decks overlooking the famous Big Hole, as well as a number of historic buildings. Known as a 'living museum', the old shops, bars, restaurants, churches and banks appear exactly as they did during the diamond digging days.
The Orange River, which stretches from the Drakensberg in Lesotho to Alexander Bay on the Atlantic Ocean some 2 200kms away, offers canoeing, rafting and fly-fishing for water sport enthusiasts.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Northern Cape Tourism Authority
Tel: +27(0)53 832-2657/2643
How to get here
There are numerous ways to get to the Northern Cape. You can fly into Kimberley and Upington, take the Shosholoza Meyl rail service to Kimberley, utilise several inter-city bus services such as Big Sky Coaches, Translux, Greyhound and Intercape. You can also hire a car and drive to the Northern Cape, or take a tour with a local tour company.
Best time to visit
Summers can get very hot many regions of the Northern Cape with the period April through to October milder.
Tours to do
The Northern Cape Tourism Authority highlights a number of interesting tourist routes on its website. These are the Anglo Boer War Route; Flower Route; Orange River Wine Route; Red Dune Route; and the Roaring Kalahari Route -each providing its own experiences and activities. See the Northern Cape Tourism Authority website for more details.
In the more rugged areas of the Northern Cape, a 4x4 vehicle will be required to navigate the rough terrain.
Length of stay
To fully explore the wonderful experiences the Northern Cape has to offer, a two-week trip is recommended.
What to pack
Northern Cape summers are generally hot and winters mild so pack light summer clothing from September through March, and a mix of summer and winter clothing from April to August. No matter the season, always bring a windbreaker for cooler temperatures. If you're visiting Sutherland, the coldest place in South Africa, be sure to pack warm clothing.
Where to stay
From 5-star hotels to quaint bed and breakfast accommodation establishments, guest houses, lodges,self-catering units, cottages and farms, the Northern Cape has many different types of accommodation to suit every budget.