When in the Northern Cape October 21st, 2017
When in the Northern Cape
The Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest and driest province of the nine. But, much like the rest of the country, it’s a beautiful place to experience the amazing endemic nature and even some quirky towns. The Northern Cape is the little Namaqualand, that further extends into the great Namaqualand in Namibia, and is a national park known for its spectacular wildflowers that show off in the Springtime.
If you’re planning a trip to the Northern Cape, here are some things you and the family can look forward to and must make a plan to see.
There are six national parks, six provincial reserves and five private reserves in the Northern Cape that can each offer you a surprisingly diverse experience through the semi-desert area.
The national parks include:
- Augrabies Falls National Park: Home to Moon Rock and the 60m high Augrabies Waterfalls
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: Red sand and desert shrubs are the plains for antelope and Kalahari lions, amongst other wildlife.
- Mokala National Park: Boasting Camel Thorn Trees and the Riet River, you can spot for game while you canoe downriver.
- Namaqua National Park: Famous for its colour-filled flower landscape in Spring.
- Richtersveld Transfrontier Park: The largest mountain-desert park in South Africa with succulents and the Orange River on show.
- Tankwa-Karoo National Park: Part of the Succulent Karoo Biome
The provincial parks are:
- Akkerendam Nature Reserve
- Goegap Nature Reserve
- Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve
- Rolfontein Nature Reserve
- Spitskop Nature Reserve
And private reserves:
- Goodhope Private Reserve
- Mattanu Private Game Reserve
- Rooipoort Nature Reserve
- Thuru Private Lodge
- Tswalu Private Reserve
It’s incredible that there are about 5400 plant species across six different biomes in the province, all there and waiting for you to come and experience their indigenous beauty.
To experience South African game and plant life at its best, visit the Northern Cape.
It comes as no surprise, with all these national parks, that hiking trails are in abundance in the Northern Cape. Also, game drives, bird watching and fly fishing are popular nature activities in the province. In Sutherland, you can enjoy a Bo-Karoo stargazing experience or jump into the Riemvasmaak Hot Springs in Augrabies.
There are other things to do, however, when in the Northern Cape.
Visit some of the Northern Cape’s natural wonders such as the Boesmansgat Sinkhole, which is the sixth deepest sinkhole in the world, and the trademark landmark of Kimberley – the Big Hole. The Big Hole has become quite the tourist attraction and feature of the Northern Cape town, taking visitors into the Old Town and its mining history, while also providing a view of the hole itself.
Speaking of history, South African history can be experienced all over the province in many of the little towns. Be sure to visit the Hanover Museum, Wonderwerk Cave, McGregor Museum, Sol Plaatje Museum, Carnarvon Museum, Kalahari-Oranje Museum, Richmond Horse Museum, Prieska Museum, Kleinzee Museum, Transport Museum or the acclaimed haunted Rudd House… just to name a few.
The local delicacy experience
There’s no better way to get to know a town than by attending a local market or farm stall. There is always something freshly baked, organically grown, homemade and culturally traditional to find and experience.
Two markets to try while you’re here include the Kimberley Town & Country Market and the Old Mission Market. With about 30 stalls of food, clothing and crafts alike, live music and running competitions, the Kimberley Town & Country Market is a great place for the whole family. And Old Mission Market is for crafters and farmers and takes place in Upington by the Orange River. It’s a non-profit community market showcasing local delicacies and talent.
Farm stores are perfect for stop-offs during a roadtrip and the Northern Cape has plenty to offer. There is Ouma Miemie’s Farm Stall in Kenhardt, Victoria Trading Post in Victoria Trading Post in Victoria West, Vetmuis Plaaskombuis in Richmond, Die Pienk Padstal and Desert Raisins Farm Stall in Kakamas and the Travalia Farm Store in Upper Karoo.
Other Northern Cape gems
There are a few other gems you’ll find in the Northern Cape (and don’t worry about accommodation, at http://countryhotelssa.co.za/ you can find hotels and lodges scattered around the province).
If you want to see wildlife with more than four legs, head down to the Spider Lady in Hanover. Her house is a living creepy-crawly museum. But if spiders aren’t your thing and you prefer harmless plant life, go to the town of Keimoes and visit Koms Quiver Tree Nursery to see some old, new and large Aloe dichotoma.
Looking for a special postmark for your letter? Visit the Calvinia Post Box, it’s pretty hard to miss and is a welcoming landmark to the town of Calvinia. For a quirky shopping experience, go to the Williston Mall in Williston (close to Calvinia) and have a delicious milkshake, bite to eat and browse around before hitting the road again.
The Northern Cape offers a little something for everyone. You can even head to the sea in Alexander Bay if the dry landscape is becoming too familiar a view. But you will undoubtedly be in awe of what this province has to offer.