Northern Cape South Africa
The Northern Cape can lay claim to vast mineral wealth beneath the dunes of an otherwise arid desert, pristine vineyards, diamond mines and rich bio diversity of a shimmering blue ocean. The Northern Cape is South Africa's largest Province and boast diversity and hospitality.
Northern Cape South Africa
'Gaze down the biggest manmade hole on the continent or gaze up at the biggest stellar display imaginable in the Karoo night Sky, the harshness of the Northern Cape will remain forever.'
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Something for everyone
The Northern Cape is one of the few regions that can lay claim to vast mineral wealth beneath the dunes of an otherwise arid desert, pristine vineyards, diamond mines and rich bio diversity of a shimmering blue ocean.
Amongst vast spaces and inspiring landscapes, eclectic towns, and villages dot the map, rich in history of diamond thieves and other colourful characters. It is the diversity of the Northern Cape that ensures there is something for everyone, form those with a keen sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors, to those seeking peace and tranquility.
Hikers, 4x4 enthusiasts, river rafters, hunters, divers even avid astronomers - are becoming more and more enamoured with the unspoiled desert dunes, river and sea that illustrate the variety of the region.
The Richtersveld - carpet of wild flowers
The Richtersveld in the arid Karoo region of the Northern Cape is home to one of South Africa's most popular natural attractions. After the first spring rainfall, a carpet of wild flowers in every colour bursts onto the landscape... almost overnight !
A rare succulent - only found in this region- known by the Afrikaans name halfmens, which roughly translated means ' half human', forms an important part of the folklore of the indigenous San people, who had fled to this area from their home further north and the San Bushmen maintain that the halfmens plants are their ancestors, looking back longingly to their northern home, standing guard over the flowers.
It is a land of stark contrast as just to the west of this awesome annual desert flower show is the Atlantic Ocean, with pristine beaches, stretching for miles along the quaint West Coast region of Southern Africa. Here you can sample the freshest and most delicious seafood in any of the many fishing villages - a gastronomic highlight.
Further inland and 1, 600 metres above sea level, lies Sutherland which was established in 1855. Known for its cold winters and clear skies, it will not be your eyes playing tricks when you gaze into the night sky and see more stars shining even brighter than you have ever experienced before.
The best way of seeing stars is to go somewhere with as little artificial light as possible, it has been said that the mostly empty unlit Karoo provides the best and clearest star gazing in the world.
Sutherland is home to the largest telescope in South Africa called S.A.L.T. (South Africas Largest Telescope).
The 'Planetary Highway' plinths are found in along the main road in Sutherland, built to scale they represent the nine planets of our solar system showing the scale of the sun in comparison to each planet and also the distance between each planet.
Sutherland is more than a gateway to the heavens for keen stargazers. On the ground the town also boasts the Louw Museum, where the two famous Afrikaans literary giants NP van Wyk Louw and and WEG Louw were born. You can also visit the only sheep cheese farm in South Africa in Fransplaas (50km out of town) or you could recharge your soul by heading for the Ouberg pass, which is an awesome lookout post 45km west. From the Ouberg you can see the Ceres Karoo Mountains.. 200km away !
Kimberley - Diamond
capital of the world
Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape is often also referred to as the diamond capital of the world. The first diamond was discovered here in 1866 by teenager Erasmus Jacobs, a yellow stone of 21.25 carats, the diamond rush began shortly after.
Development began in earnest in 1871, when diamond deposits were found
on the farm in Vooruitzig, which belonged to the De Beers Brothers and
within a year more than 50,000 people called the mining town home.
At first called 'New Rush' the towns name was changed to Kimberley in 1873, in honour of the Earl of Kimberley the British secretary of state for the colonies at that time.
The town soon grew into a city and claimed two 'firsts' for Southern Africa: first city in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lights and the first place in South Africa to have a stock exchange. The original Kimberley Mine or - 'The Big Hole' was closed in 1914 after surrendering 2,722kg of diamonds, a result of tens of thousands of diggers from all over the world descending upon Colesburg Hill that once stood there, they moved a staggering 22.5 million tons of earth to reduce Colesburg 'hill' to a huge hole in the ground 215 metres deep and not a single mechanical machine was used.
Kimberley mine museum is worth a visit. Kimberley's buildings are also showcased in all their glory of old, as many of them are the original structures that have been moved from their former locations to the museum site: a church, a diggers tavern, Barney Barnatos Boxing academy and several shops and houses.
At one time Kimberley held the dubious title of having the most pubs per capita in the world. A quaint example of these is the Halfway House- - or 'the Half' as locals call it.
Upington - oasis in a
Upington is en route when travelling between South Africa's major cities, 804km from johannesburg and 894km from Cape Town and is an oasis in the otherwise harsh landscape that surrounds it. It is a convenient stopover for travellers as the town has excellent accommodation facilities, restaurants and shops.
The town is the commercial and education centre of the 'Green kalahari' a glittering green ribbon in the fertile valley of the Orange River. Upington is much larger than any of the surrounding villages. Bordered by the kalahari desert and the Orange River which brings a vital source of water from the distant highlands of Lesotho to which the town owes its agricultural prosperity. Pioneers hand dug the first irrigation channels in 1880 and some are still in use today.
Although the Western Cape is more famous for its wines a staggering 10% of South Africa's vineyards are cultivated along the lower Orange River. Look out for the Oranje river co-operative, a five cellar co-operative offering wine tasting tours and the SA dried fruit Cooperative, which supplies dried fruit. Both are the largest of their kind in the country and second largest in the world.
For lovers of the outdoors Spitskop Nature Reserve lies just 13km north of Upington. The small Park provides sanctuary to animals such as gemsbok, zebra, springbok and eland to name a few. There are three popular hiking trails of varying distances as well as picnic facilities.