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Northern Cape

Northern Cape

The Northern Cape offers the visitor something unique – nature reserves abound with game and birdlife, unusual vegetation, the magic of spring flowers stretching for miles, delicious home-baked food, friendly people – and much more.

The Northern Cape is a large, dry region of fluctuating temperatures and varying topographies and noted for its San rock art and diamond diggings. It is particularly well known for its incredible annual floral display that takes place in Namaqualand from mid August to October.  It also has a beautiful coastline, the arid Upper Karoo for its hiking, mountain biking and star gazing and a number of unique national parks, including the main wildlife areas of Kgalagadi & Augrabies.  Summed up this region offers guests a very different experience of South Africa.

For those looking for a luxury African safari, then we recommend Tswalu Kalahari, a private game reserve, protecting a huge 110,000 hectares of spectacular grasslands and mountains with unparalleled game viewing.

 

 

at a glance

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Introduction

Vast expanses of space and silence, drought and blazing summer sunshine. Across the arid landscape, the Orange River flows, at places in a sluggish tide, at others in a powerful explosion of sound and fury. Were it not for the river, much of the region may well have remained bleak and populated only by nomadic bands of Bushmen. Instead, prosperous towns and villages have risen from its banks, and large stretches of once-barren land have been transformed into fields of cotton, Lucerne, dates and grapes.

The portion of the great Kalahari desert that lies in the Northern Cape Province is but part of a large arid to semi-arid sandy area known as the Kalahari Basin, covering 2.5 million square kilometres that stretch from the Orange River to cover most of Botswana and parts of Namibia.

Kimberley, “The Diamond Capital of the World”, is the largest and most modern city of the Northern Cape, with much to see and enjoy, especially from a historical point of view. Kimberley is also the gateway through which most travellers enter the province.

The wild and lonely western coastline is also one of the world’s most prolific fishing grounds, providing yet another source of revenue. Wealth there is too, in copper, but to some, the greatest gift of all lies in the extravagant beauty of Namaqualand’s wild flowers. The area is also notable for fine examples of Bushman art, abundant deposits of semi-precious stones, and friendly hospitality. Four major wildlife santuaries and a number of smaller reserves provide endless opportunities for getting back to nature.

Also historically interesting, the town of Kurman provides a pleasant base from which to explore the surroundings. Westward, the facilities at Upington offer a relaxing interlude, and from there, it’s a short and pleasant drive to the spectacular Augrabies Falls. Wildlife enthusiasts should spend a day or two in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and those who are looking for an unparalleled adventure should head for the Richtersveld. Visitors to Springbok, in the centre of the country’s famous wild flower region, will find fascinating relics of the early copper mining days. Apart from stunning scenery, Calvinia enjoys a pollution-free atmosphere, providing excellent views or stargazing opportunities.

Southward, the immense, spacious plain of the Great Karoo, covered with grass and acacia trees, forms the backdrop for far-flung towns and villages, old battlefields and epic adventures. This is not a soft, gentle landscape. The wide open spaces and distant horizons are characterised by crisp dry air, clear skies, flamboyant sunsets, brilliant starry nights, and enormous sheep farms.

The semi-desert wilderness area of the Kalahari supports sweet grasses and water-storing plants, which in turn sustain enormous herds of wildlife, mainly in reserves. The dunes and dry river courses of the Kalahari are also the last refuge of a few nomadic Bushmen (San), living their hunter-gatherer lives in harmony with the natural world.

When To Visit

The Northern Cape’s weather is typical of desert and semi desert areas. This is a large dry region of fluctuating temperatures and varying topographies. The annual rainfall is sparse, only 50 to 400mm per annum. In January, afternoon temperatures usually range from 34 to 40º C. Summer temperatures often top the 40º C mark.

Winter days are warm. The onset of night bringing dew and frost to supplement the low rainfall of the region. Sutherland in the Karoo is one of the coldest towns in South Africa. It’s average minimum is -6º C. In winter snow often blankets the surrounding mountains. On the whole you can expect to enjoy hot summer days and chilly nights when visiting the Northern Cape, South Africa.

Temperature & Rainfall

Northern Cape - Temp & Rainfall

Northern Cape – Temp & Rainfall

Northern Cape Highlights

Aardvark & Pangolin

Aardvark & Pangolin

Aardvark & Pangolin

Tswalu is probably the best place on earth to view aardvark and pangolin. Rarely seen elsewhere, ...

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Aardvark & Pangolin

Aardvark & Pangolin

Tswalu is probably the best place on earth to view aardvark and pangolin. Rarely seen elsewhere, the open grasslands on Tswalu make the animals easier to find, particularly during winter when they emerge in daylight to search for ants and termites.

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Meercat Colonies

Meercat Colonies

Meercat Colonies

On Tswalu Private Game Reserve – the meerkat viewing is fantastic; dedicated researchers have ...

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Meercat Colonies

Meercat Colonies

On Tswalu Private Game Reserve – the meerkat viewing is fantastic; dedicated researchers have gently habituated two colonies into accepting our presence, without distorting natural behaviour.

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Horse Back Riding

Horse Back Riding

Horse Back Riding

Tswalu's horses accommodate riders of all abilities and levels of experience. A horse safari in ...

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Horse Back Riding

Horse Back Riding

Tswalu’s horses accommodate riders of all abilities and levels of experience. A horse safari in the Kalahari creates the chance to encounter natural wilderness in a way that is simply breathtaking.

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camps & lodges

Tswalu Motse

Tswalu Motse

Tswalu Kalahari is South Africa’s largest private game reserve, in the exquisite malaria-free ‘Green Kalahari’ region.  One of just two ... Read More

Tswalu Tarkuni

Tswalu Tarkuni

Tswalu Tarkuni is an isolated oasis set against the dramatic backdrop of the Korannaberg Mountains.  Overlooking the stretches of semi-desert ... Read More