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AA honeymoon in Northern Cape will be idyllic for couples who love wide open spaces and the sense of freedom they offer. In this vast South African province supporting a variety of biomes and abounding in unexpected landscape features, the night skies are more densely populated with stars than the land is with people.
Northern Cape’s honeymoon menu begins with the Karoo. Don’t let its reputation for miles of emptiness fool you – breaking up that terrain of semi-desert, fat-tailed sheep and windmills are charming towns and villages boasting missionary pasts and corbelled homes and churches. You could also opt for a farm stay, where you can share the lifestyle of farming families and sample succulent Karoo lamb.
If you’re in the mood to celebrate as newlyweds in starker, wilder surroundings, Northern Cape offers 2 fascinating transfrontier parks bordering neighbouring state Namibia. The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park spans a land of ancient lava peaks and sandy plains cradling the Orange River. Here, you'll meet the Nama people who’ve lived in this area for centuries, wonder at the strange-looking halfmens (‘half-human’) succulents that dot the landscape, and marvel at the rock formations carved by wind and water.
Best explored in a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a paddleboat on the Orange River, the park also offers access to Namibian tourist highlights such as the Fish River Canyon.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, traversing South Africa’s borders with both Namibia and Botswana, is a vast area of sand dunes, dry riverbeds, thorn trees, antelope and birds in the Kalahari Desert. Accommodation is available in fenced rest camps as well as more intimate, unfenced facilities which allow closer contact with nature.
The Orange River supports a thin ribbon of verdant life in vineyards and natural growth along its course (especially around Upington in the ‘Green Kalahari’). The ‘Eye of Kuruman’ spring, further north, is also a welcoming oasis in this dry land – both offer yet another environment for a memorable honeymoon.
The river is also the main attraction in the Augrabies Falls National Park, where the impressive waterfalls plunge into a granite-encased pool with a thunderous roar. Eco-adventure is the watchword here, with hiking trails, canoeing, rafting and mountain biking just some of the options.
The remote Witsand Nature Reserve between Kimberley and Upington has its own roar, heard as the wind blows through its magnificent white dunes, which reach heights of 60m. Dune-boarding is a popular activity here.
Couples honeymooning in late winter/early spring (August and September) must be sure to catch the annual outbreak of wildflowers in Namaqualand, carpeting the landscape from horizon to horizon.
If a touch of the old diamond-digging frontier days sounds enticing, Kimberley – with its Big Hole, historical walks, museums, Old Town and ghost trail – is well worth a stop.
TTravel tips & Planning info
How to get here
You can drive to Northern Cape from the major centres of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, but it’s very far and a trip best recommended for seasoned overland travellers. The easiest option is to fly to Kimberley or Upington (direct flights are available from Cape Town and Johannesburg) and hire a car – or 4-wheel drive SUV – when you get there.
Best time to visit
Visit between August and September (in spring) to see the spectacular wildflower display in Namaqualand. Autumn (April and May) and spring are probably the best seasons, as the temperatures are more moderate. Winter days are warm, but nights are very cold, while the summers can be excruciatingly hot.
Around the area
Try your hand at one of the many 4-wheel drive trails in the province, trace the South African War (AKA the Second Anglo-Boer War) Battlefields Route, or visit a number of historical sites and stately Victorian homes on the 2km-long Belgravia Historic Walk in Kimberley. A visit to the South African Astronomical Observatory at Sutherland, with its fascinating day and night tours, is also a must. The spaces in this province are vast, so you will have to choose your route and experiences carefully.
Tours to do
A tour of the historic town of Kimberley is a good idea. A trip to spend time with the community in remote Riemvasmaak is also an option.
Kimberley Airport houses a range of car-rental companies. Hire a car there to explore this vast region in your own time.
Where to stay
There are several guesthouses, B&Bs and lodges in the main towns of Kimberley, Upington and Springbok. The Augrabies Falls National Park offers accommodation through its selection of campsites, chalets and family cottages, while the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park boasts traditional rest camps, wilderness camps, tented camps and a luxury lodge.