10 things to do in the Northern Cape

  1. Far from the light pollution of human habitation is the South African Astronomical Observatory Sutherland field station, where local and international astronomers study the night sky. The closest settlement is the small town of Sutherland 15 kilometres away. The observatory, home of SALT (the South African Large Telescope), is open to visitors, either for a day tour of the facility, or a night tour to gaze at the stars. Booking is essential. https://www.saao.ac.za/
  2. The Pienk Padstal is a quirky, very pink, café and shop at the entrance to the town of Kakamas, as you come over the Orange River. Aimed at tourists, it stocks dried fruits, jams, olives, gifts and quiver trees. Inside is a treasure trove of books, food, clothing and knickknacks. https://www.kakamas.co.za/
  3. Take a look back in history in Richtersveld when you explore San rock engravings, known as petroglyphs. The images, some as old as 10,000 years, have been chipped into dolomite rocks portraying mostly geometric patterns. Animals such as giraffe and sable antelope feature in a few pictures, either as an indication of the San’s nomadic lifestyle and/or a catalogue of wildlife once found in the area. https://www.richtersveldnationalpark.com/activities_rock_engravings_san.html
  4. The arid climate of the Northern Cape doesn’t seem like the place to grow grapes, but the Orange River brings life to the region and supports Die Mas Family Farm, which produces wine, table grapes and raisins, each from its own variety. The farm, 80 kilometres from Upington, offers camping and self-catering accommodation, wine, brandy and gin tastings; and a restaurant. https://www.diemas.co.za/
  5. Augrabies Falls National Park is located around the Augrabies Falls, about 120 kilometres west of Upington. The waterfall, which is easily accessible from the parking lot, is a magnificent sight. The 60-metre sheet of water pours into the Orange River, upon which many water sports are offered, including white water rafting and canoeing. https://www.experiencenortherncape.com/visitor/experiences/augrabies-falls-national-park
  6. Put your driving skills to the test on one of two 25km 4×4 trails, over red sand trails, rocky outcrops and grassy plains. The trails are a must during the blooming season with flowers of every colour popping out to greet the explorers. https://www.safarinow.com/places/place.aspx?title=dinkys-dunes-4×4&lid=2150
  7. Take a walk through Namaqua National Park and enjoy the unique flora of the region. Namaqualand is home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world and more than 1 000 of its estimated 3 500 plant species are found nowhere else on earth. https://www.sanparks.org/parks/namaqua/tourism/walking_trails.php
  8. A trip to Kimberley would be incomplete without visiting the city’s main attraction, the Big Hole. Right in the middle of the city, this giant 215-metre deep crater serves as a reminder of the diamond rush of the 1870s. Today, the Big Hole and its surrounds have been converted into a museum and tourist attraction. https://www.kimberley.co.za/places/kimberley/free/the-big-hole-kimberley-mine-museum/
  9. Belgravia is home to 33 of Kimberley’s most historical sites. Much of the city’s opulent lifestyle and its characteristic architecture can be seen on this two kilometre walk. https://www.sa-venues.com/things-to-do/northerncape/walk-the-belgravia-historic-walk/
  10. The area between Prieska and Vioolsdrif is often called the ‘Rock Garden Route’ – the rare halfmens and succulents of the Lithops family are found here. https://www.experiencenortherncape.com/visitor/citiesandtowns/prieska