No one who has travelled through the Kalahari of the Northern Cape can forget its raw grandeur. It is one of the last true wilderness areas of Southern Africa, a secret land far to the north of the more cultivated Cape. It encompasses both the southern part of the Kalahari desert with its desert adapted wildlife, the gentle beauty of the Great Karoo as well as Namaqualand which is reborn every spring with a profusion of wild spring flowers.
The vast Northern Cape is certainly not homogenous. It comprises three distinct areas:
- Namaqualand is the coastal strip between the Atlantic and the Karoo, known for its spring flowers after the winter rains
- Inland lies the vast open spaces of the Great Karoo
- North of the verdant Orange River lies the Kalahari, a land of desert red dunes, endless horizons and huge skies. Here you find two excellent National Parks, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Augrabies Falls.
Reasons to Visit the Northern Cape
• Augrabies Falls
• The Kalahari lions of the Kgalakgadi Transfontier Park
• Stay with the Bushmen communities at Xaus!
• Relive the history surrounding the Big Hole in Kimberley
• Enjoy superb game-viewing at Tswalu Game Reserve
When and How to visit the Northern Cape
The African summer months (November to March) in the Northern Cape are extremely hot, although inland occasional summer afternoon thunderstorms cool this sun-baked land. So the best time to visit is from autumn to spring (April to October). The Kalahari grasses are shorter and so it’s easier to see the game in the reserves and the wildlife comes to the rivers and waterholes to drink. This is also the best time to see the Augrabies Falls.
The Namaqualand coastal strip has a winter rainfall which heralds the start of the wild flowers of spring.
You can drive north from the Cape or west from Johannesburg but the scheduled flights into Upington (to visit Augrabies and the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park) are very useful as either a starting or end point.