Northern Cape Tourism information on national and provincial parks. Characterised by its vast expanses of space and silence, warm sunny climate, friendly people and hospitality, the Northern Cape is a province with a rich culture heritage. Below you will find information on Northern Cape Tourism.
The Big Hole in Kimberley is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. In 1871, diamonds were discovered at the site and mined manually by prospectors. The Kimberley Tram Service dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and still transports passengers from the City Hall to the Mine Museum. Underground mine tours are a big attraction, as are the famous ghost tours, during which many historical buildings are seen from a different perspective. Hand and mechanical diamond-digging by private diggers can be viewed by appointment. The McGregor Museum houses invaluable collections of the archaeological finds in the area, as well as San art works. The house where Sol Plaatje (African National Congress founding member and human-rights activist) lived in Kimberley, has a library of Plaatje’s and other black South African writers’ works, and several displays, including a portrayal of black involvement in the Anglo-Boer/South African War. The Paterson Museum near Kimberley Airport houses a replica of a Paterson biplane, which was used for pilot training by the flying school operated by the Paterson Aviation Syndicate at Alexandersfontein. A township tour of Galeshewe provides a fresh perspective on South Africa’s socio-historical realities. Pan African Congress founder Robert Sobukwe’s house is there. The Magersfontein Battlefield outside Kimberley, with its original trenches and other defenses intact, is the site of the Boers’ crushing defeat of the British during the Siege of Kimberley. A cultural centre at Wildebeestkuil outside Kimberley features !Xun and Khwe artwork for sale and a tour of rock engravings by these indigenous people. Barkley West attracts many water-sports enthusiasts and anglers. Tucked along the Vaal River near Barkley West lies the Vaalbos National Park. The park is not only home to large raptors, but also a breeding centre for endangered African herbivores such as rhino, roan and sable antelope and disease-free buffalo.
At Black Rock, visitors can view a worked-out manganese mine. Danielskuil lies at the foot of the Kuruman hills. The Tswana people occupied the area before it became home to the Griquas. Boesmansgat, on the farm Mount Carmel outside Danielskuil, is a unique natural sinkhole – the second-deepest and largest of its kind in the world. Known as the “Oasis of the Kalahari,” Kuruman is blessed with a permanent and abundant source of water that flows from Gasegonyana (Setswana for “the little water calabash”) – commonly called the “Eye of Kuruman” – which yields 20 million litres of water per day. Moffat’s Mission in Kuruman features the house of missionary Robert Moffat, the church he built, and several other historic buildings. Moffat translated the Bible into Setswana – the first African language in which the Bible was made accessible. The printing press on which he printed the first 2 000 copies can still be viewed.The church he built seats 800 people and is still in use. Explorer David Livingstone married Moffat’s daughter and started many famous travels from this mission station. The Wonderwerk Cave at Kuruman features extensive San paintings that may be viewed by appointment. The Kalahari Raptor Centre cares for injured birds. Many of these majestic creatures can be seen at close quarters. The Witsand Nature Reserve, situated about 80 km south-west of Postmasburg, features a 100-m high dune of brilliant white sand. It stretches for about nine km and is about two km’s wide.
The Roaring Sands site on the farm Doornaar near Groblershoop is a popular tourist attraction. Its high sand dunes, surrounded by typically red Kalahari dunes, are said to “roar” when the wind blows. Along the hand-built irrigation canals at Kakamas 11 waterwheels are still used. Kanoneiland is a settlement on the biggest island in the Orange River. At Keimoes, the Orange River flows at its widest. The Tierberg Nature Reserve offers spectacular views of the Keimoes Valley and the many islands in the Orange River. The original irrigation canal system is still in use. The Orange River Wine Cellar’s largest cellar is situated here. Kenhardt is the oldest town in the Lower Orange River area. The Quiver Tree Forest and Kokerboom Hiking Trail, consisting of between 4 000 and 5 000 quiver trees, are within easy driving distance of the town. Upington is the commercial, educational and social centre of the Green Kalahari, owing its prosperity to agriculture and its irrigated lands along the Orange River. A camel-and-rider statue in front of the town’s police station pays tribute to the “mounties,” who patrolled the harsh desert territory on camels. Kalahari Desert Speedweek, in its third year at the beginning of October 2014, is an annual eight-day speed festival held in a far north-western corner of South Africa where tumbleweeds can roam for days nonstop and the dried-up lake beds are tailor-made for top-speed exploration. It is a proper run-what-you-brung motorsport event where anybody is welcome to enter, and anything with an engine is eligible. Over the years, the event has also become a meeting place for all sorts of eccentric machinery and people. Expect anything from 1940s-vintage Nash sedans limping along in period-correct warbird liveries to finely tuned Italian exotics humming at breakneck speeds, billowing dust clouds in tow. The Orange River displays its impressive power at the Augrabies Falls in the Augrabies Falls National Park. Visitors can hire canoes to ensure closer contact with the natural heritage surrounding the world’s sixth-largest waterfall. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park comprises 38 000 m2 of land, making it one of the largest conservation areas in the world. Straddling the Green Kalahari and Botswana, the park is a two-million-hectare sanctuary for various raptors, antelope, gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, eland, Kalahari lion, black-maned lion, brown and spotted hyena, leopard, cheetah, and smaller game, including mongoose, porcupine and the endangered honey badger.
The Namas are the indigenous people of Namaqualand. Their traditional Nama reed huts still abound in Leliefontein, Nourivier and Steinkopf. Namaqualand is famous for a spectacular annual show in spring when an abundance of wild flowers covers vast tracts of desert. The flowers sprout and survive for a brief period before they wilt and disappear in the blistering heat and dry conditions just as suddenly as they appeared. The small town of Garies is the centre for those setting out to enjoy this show of exuberance in the Kamiesberg. After diamonds were discovered along the West Coast in 1925, Alexander Bay has become known for its mining activities. The town is no longer a high-security area and no permits are needed to enter. The Alexkor Museum paints a picture of the history of the area. The town also features the world’s largest desert lichenfield, which has some 26 species.
More Northern Cape Tourism
At Hondeklip Bay, visitors can dive for crayfish and watch the local fisher folk conduct their trade. Port Nolloth is a centre for the small-scale diamond-recovery and crayfish industries. It is the only holiday resort on the Diamond Coast. The local factory sells fish and crayfish in season. Set in a narrow valley bisecting the granite domes of the Klein Koperberge lies Springbok. South of Springbok, near Kamieskroon, lies the Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve, part of the Namaqua National Park, which captures the full grandeur of the flower season. The 1 000-ha reserve is open only during the flower season. The Goegap Nature Reserve comprises 15 004 ha of typically granite, rocky hills and sandy flats. The reserve also offers a 4×4 trail, as well as several hiking and mountain-biking trails. Namaqualand is also home to the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld National Park. It is managed jointly by the local Nama people and South African National Parks.
Upper Karoo (Bo-Karoo)
Flanked by the Towerberg, Colesberg is one of the Northern Cape’s most beautiful towns. The town features one of the country’s last working horsemills. An Anglo-Boer/South African War tour is also on offer. A weekend tour includes a visit to the Norvals-pont prisoner-of-war camp and cemetery. Colesberg has bred many of the country’s top Merino sheep. It is also renowned for producing high-quality racehorses. De Aar is the most important railway junction in South Africa. The author Olive Schreiner lived in the town for many years. Visitors can dine in her former house, which has been converted into a restaurant. Hanover is known for its handmade shoes and articles made mostly from sheepskin and leather. The “Star of South Africa” diamond was discovered at Hopetown. The town also features an old toll house and a block house dating from the Anglo-Boer/South African War. At Wonderdraai near Prieska, visitors can see the horseshoe-shaped island formed by the flow of the Orange River. It seems as if the river turns to flow uphill. Vanderkloof, built to house the people building the Vanderkloof Dam, was turned into a flourishing holiday resort. Visitors can enjoy waterskiing, boardsailing, boating and swimming, or visit the Eskom Hydro-electric Power Station within the dam’s wall. The rare riverine rabbit is found in the Victoria West Nature Reserve.
Near Brandvlei lies Verneukpan where Sir Malcolm Campbell unsuccessfully attempted to break the world land-speed record in 1929. Carnarvon is well known for its corbelled dome-roofed houses built of flat stones because of a lack of wood. The floors of these interesting houses were smeared and coloured with a rich red mixture of fat and oxblood and polished with smooth stone. A few kilometres outside Fraserburg lies the Gansfontein Palaeosurface. Discovered in 1968, it comprises several trackways of large, four-footed and five-toed mammalian reptiles. The prints are estimated to be some 190 million years old. Sutherland, birthplace of NP van Wyk Louw, well-known Afrikaans author and poet, is also known for its brilliant night skies and cold, biting winters. The South African Astronomical Observatory’s observation telescopes, including the Southern African Large Telescope (Salt), are in Sutherland. The sterboom (star tree), which blossoms in September, is found only in Sutherland. The Tankwa Karoo National Park, on the southern border of the Northern Cape, 70 km west of Sutherland, encompasses the Succulent Karoo Biome, the world’s only arid hotspot, stretches 116 000 km² from the southwestern Cape into southern Namibia. The landscape offers seasonal contrasts of coloured wild flowers and stark desert, set against the backdrop of the Roggeveld Escarpment to the east, Klein Roggeveld to the south and the Cederberg to the west. Its extensive desert plateaus are ideal for viewing game such as gemsbok, Cape mountain zebra, springbuck and bustards.
Northern Cape Tourism
15 Villiers Street
Telephone: 053 832 2657 (International: +27 (0)53 832 2657)