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Northern Cape

The Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa, bordering Namibia and Botswana. There are vast plains where you can drive kilometres long without ever meeting anyone. Occasionally you will come to a village that occupies no more than one block, and where time seems to have stood still. The Orange River crosses dry areas and provides lush green fields and vineyards. The Northern Cape is known for its diamond excavation, rock art of the San and the 4WD desert safaris. There are spectacular waterfalls, yellow and red deserts and the most wild and remote national parks in the whole of South Africa.

Climate in the Northern Cape
The Northern Cape has extreme climates. In the summer it may be more than 40°C in the deserts during the day and overnight freeze lightly. It rains little but if there is something that is mainly in the west. This rain makes for a great sea of ​​flowers in Namaqualand.

Cities in Northern Cape

Kimberley
Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape and is also called the 'Diamond Capital of the World." The city is located approximately in the middle of South Africa and is often visited when traveling between Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Kimberly there are several historical attractions that take you back to the time of the diamond fever, late 19th century. Especially when you get into one of the old pubs with dark, smoky interiors with wooden tables and old Castle Lager posters still hang on the wall, you get the feeling that it is stuck in the diamond time here. The story goes that a group of miners camped at this place in 1871 and a cook was fired because of a minor offense. A moment later he returned up with a diamond.

Kimberly is still synonymous with the mining industry and diamonds mined here. In the city's street pattern, you can still see that Kimberly was once a tent city. The whimsical plan differs from the neat patterns of other South African cities. The streets seem to run together and you will see the occasional open field. There are a number of interesting attractions in Kimberly most of which you do well to recall the diamond fever. The most important and most spectacular is the Big Hole. Miners dug with no more than a pick and a shovel in the ground, resulting in a gap of no less than 800 m deep in 1889. This is the biggest hole in the earth that was created by man. It has a diameter of 1.6 km and covers about 17 hectares.

All that digging was not for nothing because of the amount of diamonds which was taken from it: 14.5 million carats! The Big Hole was closed in 1914 and today it is filled with blue-green water. The best view you can get is when you visit the adjacent Kimberly Mine Museum. This is a quaint village with museum streets which are historic homes. There is a small church, a pharmacy, and cafe and there are various shops decorated with authentic stuff. Children can enjoy themselves searching for diamonds! Kimberly has a number of fine museums like the Duggan Cronin Gallery, a unique photo collection of tribes from the 20s and 30s of the 20th century, the William Humphreys Art Gallery with a stunning exhibition of South African and European artists, and the Africana Library. In the latter, you can learn more about the first contacts between the indigenous Tswana tribe and European missionaries.

Galeshewe Township
Kimberly is an important place for the history of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902 and the Honoured Dead Memorial commemorates the British soldiers who died here during the siege in 1899. Another attraction is the Galeshewe Township, just west of Kimberly. Here you have the opportunity to see how the vast majority of the population in South Africa lives on a tour. You see how poverty is addressed and you will learn the positive spirit of the people of this township. Just like in Soweto many anti-apartheid activists come from here. Here there is the house and the grave of Sol Plaatje, a founding member of the ANC and also the home of the founder of the PAC.

Nature in Northern Cape
There is in the Northern Cape an unprecedented amount of natural beauty.

Augrabies Falls
At few places you'll be so overwhelmed like at the Augrabies Falls National Park. Here there is the Orange River as a spectacular waterfall of 60 m down. The name of the park comes from the Khoi tribe: they call it 'Aukoerebis which means "that Place of Great Noise". Especially at the end of summer the waterfall lives up to its name when the river carries a lot of water with it and the sound is deafening. The Augrabies Falls are the largest granite gorge in the world. It is no less than 240 m deep and about 18 km long.

But not only the falls and the gorge of the Augrabies Falls National Park are impressive, the park itself is perhaps even more fascinating. Along the Orange River there are beautiful desert ecosystems where very rare species of flora and fauna live. Because the park has an extreme climate with very high and low temperatures unique plants and animals live here. For example, the long Kokerboom standing alone in the giant desert and sucks up the little water there is with long roots and keeps it a long time in the trunk. The park has the endangered black rhino. Guests at the Augrabies Falls National Park can go hiking, but also canoeing, rafting and mountain climbing and has several accommodation options. The Augrabies Falls National Park is located in the northwest of the Northern Cape. It is advisable to bring your own transport or to go with a tour from Upington: 120 km east of the park.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the first cross-border Peace Park of Africa and is in the south of the Kalahari Desert. In 2000 it went official with the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. It is large, almost 40 000 square kilometres, almost twice as large as the Kruger National Park. It is one of the largest protected areas in the world. Because there are hardly any fences and allows the animals to move freely the park when they are looking for food and water. Here you have a chance to spot wildlife groups without other people. The park is famous for the impressive red and mainly dry landscape with sand dunes and camel thorns. The sunrises and sunsets here are unforgettable with giant orange and pink skies.

The two rivers the Nossob and Auob are usually dry but along the channels, you will still find most of the vegetation of the park which attract various species of flora and fauna. Although the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is dry, a surprising number of different animals live here that have adapted to the Kalahari Desert. For example, you will see the black mane Kalahari lion, cheetah, brown hyena, wild cat, springbok, wildebeest, hartebeest and honey badger. There are many species of birds of prey like the eagle, mountain rooster, African steppe eagle and the hawk singing. Although you have to be lucky to see some of the great predators, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park gives you the chance. Because the animals here hardly see motorized vehicles, you can approach them up close. You can reach the park by car via the R360. It is advisable to drive a 4WD and bring enough water and petrol since there are no gas stations on the way.

Richtersveld National Park
In north-western Richtersveld we find the "Ai Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The area on the border with Namibia and in the loop of the Orange River seems at first sight an infinitely void with occasional wild windy rock formations. Nothing is further from the truth, because there live many small reptiles, birds, and in the spring the dry desert area turns into an enchanting floral spectacle.
The highest peak of the national park is nearly 1400 meters high Vandersterberg. In 1991, the Richtersveld National Park was established to protect a large area of ​​land. The number of visitors is limited by time at the park. An agreement was concluded with the indigenous Nama people, which stated that the park would remain their property.

Despite the fact that there is only a rainstorm once a year, there lives a lot of flora in the Richtersveld National Park. The plants derive their moisture from the fog in the early hours of the morning from the Atlantic which revokes the country. On the one hand the fog provides for some coolness during the day in the national park, especially in the middle of summer with a safari through the park, as you do not do it during the day. On the other hand the advancing mist flows through the valleys which are a beautiful spectacle. The Orange River in the north of the Richtersveld provides much recreational traffic. You can take beautiful canoe trips or just escape the desert heat. The "half man" is a very special appearance in the Richtersveld. It is a plant, despite its ominous name and resembles a sort of human stature with small flowers growing out of trunk-like arms. The half man grows in small groups on rock walls.

The impressive quiver tree with its extensive system of branches is a visual enhancement of the landscape here. In the central portion of the field the dollar enters for a plant with leaves that resemble coins. There are a large number of birds flying through the deep valleys of the Richtersveld. Altogether more than 150 species, including the pied kingfisher trail wing goose, Namakwa sand grouse and osprey can be found in the national park. The dry semi-desert is not suitable for large mammals, but reptiles though. As many as 25 species of snakes are registered. An encounter with a baboon, Klipspringer or Capricorn is highly likely. What is rare is the mountain zebra. You can traverse the rugged landscape of the Richtersveld National Park with 4WD jeep, but walking is the probably a lot bigger challenge. Ensure in all cases that you do not go off the paths, because that is rightly seen as an offense. The desert is in fact very fragile. The 'natural' paths are often formed by former prospectors who came to try their luck here in the 20s. For experienced hikers or trained climbers there are multi-day hikes on Vandersterberg.

The most common route to reach the Richtersveld National Park by car is traveling on the N7 via Springbok direction of Alexander Bay. From there you drive on a dirt road, but you can enjoy the view of the Orange River. Then follow the signs to Reuning. Ultimately, the "South African National Parks' flag will welcome you.

Kalahari
The sun-drenched Kalahari is an often overlooked corner of South Africa. But the breath-taking sunset, the endless red and white dunes, fertile green fields, red vines, historical sites and unique flora and fauna make the Kalahari one of the most beautiful places of the country. It can vibrate with the heat and it sometimes seems as if you are the last person on earth in an empty, desolate area. But all this makes just such a magical place that you will never forget. It rains little but the plants and animals have adapted well to the sparse environment. Many visitors to South Africa skip the Kalahari Desert but this is definitely worth a visit!

The Kalahari is part of a vast steppe which stretches from the Orange River to the equator halfway in Africa. There live many special animals, which include geckos, dogs and Puff Adders. The landscape is generally dry, except for the Green Kalahari: the area along the river. Kuruman is another green area and is also known as the Oasis of the Kalahari. Here there is a natural water source, "The Eye". This source provides about 18 to 20 million litres of water per day. This source is also called the fountain of Christianity. Here the Moffat Mission was provided of water during their journey through the inland of Africa and this group with their gospel songs were trying to convert indigenous people to Christianity. This is also a great place for paragliding. To the north lies the magnificent, giant Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with impressive red landscapes where many animals live.

Other interesting sights in the Kalahari are the mining towns Hotazel ​​("Hot as Hell") and BlackRock. Near the pretty town of Olifantshoek there are the White and Roaring Sands. The white sand has a granular structure, and does not interfere with the surrounding red sand. And when the sand is somewhat changing, especially when it has been dry for long, it gives a roaring sound. The Kalahari is located in the north of Northern Cape and is well accessible by 4WD. There are several accommodation options in both towns and in bush camps.