Northern Cape - The Travel Guide

Northern Cape, South Africa

expanses of space and silence, drought and blazing summer sunshine.
Across the arid landscape, the Orange River flows, at places in a
sluggish tide, at others in a powerful explosion of sound and fury.
Were it not for the river, much of the region may well have remained
bleak and populated only by nomadic bands of Bushmen. Instead,
prosperous towns and villages have risen from its banks, and large
stretches of once-barren land have been transformed into fields of
cotton, Lucerne, dates and grapes.

In addition to the fabulous diamonds discovered which catapulted the city of Kimberley
to fame and fortune, and changed the course of history, a rich bounty
of alluvial diamonds is mined off the west coast. The wild and lonely
western coastline is also one of the world's most prolific fishing
grounds, providing yet another source of revenue. Wealth there is too,
in copper, but to some, the greatest gift of all lies in the
extravagant beauty of Namaqualand's wild flowers.
The area is also notable for fine examples of Bushman art, abundant
deposits of semi-precious stones, and friendly hospitality. Four major
wildlife santuaries and a number of smaller reserves provide endless
opportunities for getting back to nature. 

Kimberley (capital of the Northern Cape)

Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape

Kimberley, The Diamond Capital of the World, is the largest and most modern city of the Northern Cape,
with much to see and enjoy, especially from a historical point of view.
Kimberley is also the gateway through which most travellers enter the

Also historically interesting, the town of Kurman provides
a pleasant base from which to explore the surroundings. Westward, the
facilities at Upington offer a relaxing interlude, and from there, it's
a short and pleasant drive to the spectacular Augrabies Falls. Wildlife enthusiasts should spend a day or two in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and those who are looking for an unparalleled adventure should head for the Richtersveld.
Visitors to Springbok, in the centre of the country's famous wild
flower region, will find fascinating relics of the early copper mining
days. Apart from stunning scenery, Calvinia enjoys a pollution-free
atmosphere, providing excellent views or stargazing opportunities.

Northern Cape Eastern Region

Kalahari, Northern Cape

Today, Kimberley's open-cast mines are nearing the end of their
productive lives, but along the Vaal River, diggers still sift the
gravel for diamonds, searching for the stone which will bring them
instant riches. Abandoned diamond fields scattered throughout the
region are marked by countless holes, mounds of rubble, rusted
machinery and empty shacks.

Southward, the immense, spacious plain of the Great Karoo,
covered with grass and acacia trees, forms the backdrop for far-flung
towns and villages, old battlefields and epic adventures. This is not a
soft, gentle landscape. The wide open spaces and distant horizons are
characterised by crisp dry air, clear skies, flamboyant sunsets,
brilliant starry nights, and enormous sheep farms. To serve the needs
of the farmers, typical South African towns, each dominated by an
imposing Dutch Reformed Church, are inhabited by genuine, hospitable
people with wisdom that comes from respecting Nature's rules.

The semi-desert wilderness area of the Kalahari supports sweet grasses and water-storing plants, which in turn sustain enormous herds of wildlife,
mainly in reserves. The dunes and dry river courses of the Kalahari are
also the last refuge of a few nomadic Bushmen (San), living their
hunter-gatherer lives in harmony with the natural world.

Northern Cape Western Region

Flower Season in the Northern Cape

The green agricultural belt which flanks the Orange River as it nears
the Atlantic Ocean provides a lush contrast to the ruggedness of the
Richtersveld. Nestled between the river and the ocean, the saw-toothed
mountain peaks, winds sculpted boulders and colourful indigenous flora
of the Richtersveld have a unique beauty found nowhere on earth.

Along the coastline, small fishing villages have been
established to harvest the shoals of fish in the cold Benguela Current
sweeping north from the Antarctica. Some boats put to sea with nets;
others carry divers and suction pipes to exploit the diamonds that lie
on the bed of the sea. The promise of riches brought a tide of humanity
to the lonely north-west corner of South Africa.

The Namaqualand copper rush of the 1850s was the catalyst for the
evolution of these once undeveloped wastelands. Although the boom years
are long over, mining is still carried out in the region. For much of
the year, the undulating semi-desert of Namaqualand harbours an unseen
treasure house of dormant floral glory. After the right amount of
winter rainfall, the landscape in spring is transformed into a carpet
of brilliant blooms form one horizon to another.