At first sight Upington, in the vast Northern Cape, may seem an unremarkable town, but its layers must be peeled away to find its intriguing essence on the banks of the Orange River, a lifeline that runs through what is known as the Green Kalahari.
Upington is situated only 92 km from Thuru Lodge, 820km north of Cape Town, along the N10, and 780km west of Johannesburg, along the N14.
The area is best known for its export-quality grapes, raisins and wines, which are cultivated on the rich flood plains of the Orange River.
It started out as a mission station, established by a Reverend Christiaan Schröder. A church was erected in 1875 and is today the Kalahari Oranje Museum, complete with all its period furnishings.
Upington was originally called Olyvenhoutsdrif (‘Olive wood drift’) due to the abundance of olivewood trees in the area. It was renamed Upington in 1898 after the Cape Colony’s attorney general at the time, Sir Thomas Upington.
ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO
- Kalahari Oranje Museum
- Donkey Monument
- Camel and Rider Statue
- Longest Date Palm Lane in the Southern Hemisphere
- Orange River Cellars Wine Tasting Centre
- Bezalel Wine & Brandy Estate
- Sakkie se Arkie (Boat cruise on the river)
- Kalahari Mall
Some 120km west of Upington, lies Augrabies Falls National Park, a gem among Green Kalahari attractions. Here, South Africa’s greatest waterfall thunders 60 metres down into a gorge 240m deep and 18km long.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
All year round, but bear in mind that summers are sweltering. Upington has been noted as being the sunniest location on the planet for three months of the year, from November through January.
All of the main roads and streets are tarred and Upington is linked to all major South African cities by air, rail and road.