As South Africa’s largest province, the Northern Cape is known for open roads and wide blue skies, smiling hospitality and late-night braais under the stars. In short, the Northern Cape is a dream come true for any adventurous heart and destination that will never run out of back roads, nooks and bends in the river to explore.
If we had to distill all the wonder down to just seven top experiences, these would be our picks:
Originally named ‘Ankoerebis’ – place of the great noise – by the Khoikhoi who first called this part of the world home. The thundering falls are formed by the Orange River plunging approximately 56m over century-long smoothed rocks. This majestic site now forms the focal point of the Augrabies National Park.
Island hopping and rafting in the Orange River
Flowing through the very heart of the Northern Cape, the Orange River can certainly be considered one of the province’s defining natural features.
White water rafting is a well-established and hugely popular activity, which offers you the opportunity to get to know the river rather personally. While you’re at it, take some time to explore a few of the small islands dotted along the course of the river.
Sharing a meal (and stories) with locals
There are few places in the world with better storytellers than those you will find while travelling through the Northern Cape. Everyone has a tale to share that will remain with you for a long time to come. What better way for stories to unfold than over plates piled high with wholesome food and glasses brimming with locally-produced brandy and wine?
Riding the red Kalahari dunes
Whether it’s in a 4×4 or on a sandboard, the dunes of the Kalahari Desert are a natural playground of note for anyone who enjoys the feeling of riding waves on dry land.
Recharging in the Richtersveld
There’s no better place to unplug and recharge simultaneously than in the mountainous desert landscape of the Richtersveld.
Highlights of stay in the Richtersveld include viewing the rock engravings at Vioolsdrift (thought to be of either San or Strandloper origin), admiring the otherworldy Halfmens trees at the Rooiberg picnic area and learning more about Nama culture at Kuboes village.
Visit the Bushmen Living Museum
The Bushmen Living Museum is located within Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and offers visitors an open air learning experience about San culture, traditions and their fragile future.
Stock up on snacks at Die Pienk Padstal
Located just outside the little town of Kakamas, Die Pienk Padstal is an almost strangely soft and sweet landmark in the otherwise rustic surrounds. The stall offers fragrant cups of freshly-brewed coffee, hearty home-made treats and a wide variety of truly Northern Cape style snacks for the road. It’s a proud purveyor of local arts and crafts.
So, there you have it: if you haven’t explored the Northern Cape just yet, it’s time you went! And if you have – what would you add to this list?