The Northern Cape Province of South Africa
The Northern Cape Province of South Africa is a vast and deceptively arid area – ‘deceptively’, as the varied semi-arid to arid landscapes support an astonishing biodiversity in a variety of biomes that range from sheep dotted Karoo ‘veld’ to the deep red dunes of the Kalahari ‘desert’.
Possibly the flowers in Namaqualand is the best known feature of this area. In spring the most glorious carpets of flowers attract botanists from all over the world. Photographers run workshops in the so called “Garden of the Gods”.
There are four ‘Arid’ National Parks in the Northern Cape: the Tankwa Karoo National Park, Mokala National Park, Augrabies National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. In addition, the Richtersveld World Heritage Site near the Namibian border protects a unique and internationally valued landscape, and there are several smaller and private game and nature reserves. The private Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is both one of South Africa’s best known luxury safari destinations and a centre of Kalahari conservation and studies.
The Capital of both the Diamond Fields region and the whole Northern Cape is Kimberley – famous for the Kimberley Big Hole. Other characteristic features of the Northern Cape include the heritage of the indigenous San Bushmen and the Nama people (including amazing rock art in many areas), farmland and miles and miles of open space, the vineyards of the Green Kalahari region, the mysterious Namaqualand Diamond Coast, the flower carpets of Namaqualand and the Hantam Karoo, and the ‘Place of the Big Noise’ – the Augrabies Falls.
Other tourist draws and activities besides sightseeing and game viewing at the game parks and reserves, include 4X4 adventures (with many areas only accessible in a 4×4), river rafting and canoe trails on the Orange River that flows north through the Northern Cape to the Namibian border, and some excellent hiking trails – from the locally famous trail at Oorlogskloof to the recently opened De Beer’s Diamond Coast Trail along the formerly entry-restricted alluvial diamond rich and so pristine western coast-line.