ADVENTURES IN THE NORTHERN CAPE, AFRICA
The Northern Cape has numerous wonderful places for travelers to visit. It is a sanctuary for lovers of the outdoors, with its limitless wildlife, exclusive flora and striking scenery. It is a land of various ways of life, and has memoirs, stretching back thousands of years. Be sure to visit some of the following places on our Top 10 list.
1. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
This mysterious desert wilderness situated on the edge of the Kalahari covers some 102 000 ha of land. Tswalu committed to “restoring the Kalahari to itself is the largest privately owned game reserve in South African and a conservation vision in progress. Some of the highlights include true Kalahari Lions, majestic Cheetah and Desert Black Rhino. Tswalu with more than 250 species of bird is also home to 70 species of mammal, including Sable and Roan Antelope. Tswalu provides unparalleled safari experiences including guided walks, horseback safaris and hot air ballooning over the desert landscape. Being a member of the prestigious Relays & Chateaux you can be sure that guests are offered luxurious accommodation and splendid cuisine.
2. The Orange River
The River stretching 2340 km is ideal for canoeing and rafting with long stretches of open flat water punctuated by rapids and weather that is warm all year round. For wine lovers the Orange River Wine Route makes up 10% of South Africa’s vineyards. The Cellars are made up of five wineries and the wine grapes of the Oranjerivier Wine Cellars originate from 794 producers along the Orange River.
3. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
This Park is a result of the unification of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park and a truly unspoiled ecosystem. The park, at 3.7 million hectares, is one of the largest conservation areas in the world.
4. The Kimberley Big Hole
In 1871, diamonds found on a once flat-topped hill resulted in a mad scramble for fame and fortune. The largest hand-dug excavation in the world is now known as the awesome Kimberley Big Hole. Dug by picks, shovels and sheer determination, measuring 215 meters deep with a surface area of 17 hectares – the mine yielded 2 722 kilograms of diamonds.
5. Augrabies Falls National Park
The world’s sixth largest waterfall is where the mighty Orange River is at its most impressive. Thundering its way through a ravine and into a pool walled by sheer granite, creating the Augrabies Falls. The name of the falls originated from the Khios word meaning ‘place of great noise’ which describes the roar as the falls plummet 56m into the ravine.
Sutherland is known for its brilliant night skies and the world-renowned Southern African Astronomical Observatory, a site that houses 10 telescopes, one being ‘SALT’ (Southern African Largest Telescope). It can record distant stars and galaxies a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye.
This little town is blessed with a permanent and abundant source of water. Commonly known as the Kuruman Eye, the water flows from the Gasegonyana more densely vegetated than most oases. The Eye is a natural fountain delivering approximately 20-30 million liters of crystal clear water daily, which supplies water for the town, feeds the Kuruman River and spills yet more water into two 7km irrigation canal. It was this fresh source of water that led to the establishment of the Moffat Mission Station here in the early 1900th, naming the eye the ‘fountain of Christianity’.
8. Richterveld National Park
The Richtersveld is hauntingly beautiful, with mountains and sandy plains forming Southern Africa’s largest mountain desert park, an area covering 160 000 ha. Although harsh and dry, the Richtersveld is a botanist’s living laboratory, home to around 30% of all South Africa’s succulent plant species. The Richtersveld is an extremely fragile ecosystem, with less than 50 mm of annual rainfall. Surprisingly breathtaking, it offers rarely seen purity of an unspoilt country.
9. Kathu, “the town under the trees”
The name came into being because of Kumba’s iron ore mining activities, one of the world’s largest open-cast iron mines. The mine is also home to one of South Africa’s greatest golfing gems, Sishen Golf Course, a truly unique setting to play a round of golf winding its way through a 500 hectare Camelthorn forest on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. This par 72, 18-hole course is the last masterpiece of Robert Grimsdell and is currently rated in the top 30 best golf courses in South Africa. Being situated off the beaten track, the course is blissfully un-congested and visitors are always assured of getting a game here.
10. The Namaqua National Park
Between July and September Namakwa sheds its drab facade and showers the world with a riot of flowers of every hue, offering rich and splendid brilliance. It contains more than 6 000 plant species, 250 species of birds, 78 species of mammals, 132 species of reptiles and amphibians and an unknown number of insects, making it the world’s most diverse, arid environment. More than 40% of these species are found nowhere else on Earth.