GETTING TO KNOW THE NORTHERN CAPE

Home to the ancient San people, the Northern Cape is about wide-open spaces

An utterly beautiful coastline and a number of unique national parks offering the tourist a very different experience of the South African landscape. This province boasts a colorful history and a variety of cultural tourist attractions and is particularly well known for its incredible annual floral display that takes place in Namaqualand.

Overview

The Northern Cape lies to the south of the mighty Orange River and comprises mostly desert and semi-desert. The landscape is characterized by vast arid plains with outcroppings of haphazard rock piles. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the western boundary. This region covers the largest area of all the provinces in South Africa yet has the smallest population. The last remaining true San (Bushman) people live in the Kalahari area of the Northern Cape. The whole area, especially along the Orange and Vaal rivers, is rich in San rock engravings. The province is also rich in fossils.

The first people of the Northern Cape were the San, who were gradually pushed out of the area by the arrival of Europeans, and other African tribes.  The Dutch came to the area to mine for copper under the famous Cape governor Simon van der Stel.  Mining has always defined the history in this part of the world and, when diamonds were discovered in Kimberley, unprecedented growth took place in the province under the leadership of men such as Barney Barnato and Cecil John Rhodes.  In 1899, the Northern province was the scene of the Anglo-Boer War, where Kimberley was one of the first towns to be besieged by the Boers.

Climate

Apart from a narrow strip of winter-rainfall area along the coast, the Northern Cape is a semi-arid region with little rainfall in summer. The weather conditions are extremely cold and frosty in winter, and extremely high temperatures in summer. Sutherland, in the Hantam Karoo, is one of the coldest towns in southern Africa with an average winter minimum is -6º Celsius.  In winter, snow often blankets its surrounding mountains.

Major attractions in the area:

Richtersveld National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Augrabies Falls National Park

Flowers Everywhere:  During August and September, the area of Namaqualand is transformed into a brilliant carpet of wildflowers.

Rock Art

Diamond Digging Country:  Kimberley boasts an excellent museum called the Kimberley Mine Museum, The Big Hole at Kimberley, Trains, and Trams.

Moffat Mission Station:  Missionaries, Robert Moffat and his wife Mary arrived in the Kuruman area in 1820.

Not too far from Kuruman, lies the Wonderwerk Cave.

The Kalahari Desert

Small-town delights

The Northern Province is littered with small towns that are fast growing in popularity with the arty set. Places such as Nieuwoudtville, Calvinia, Poffadder, and Springbok are definitely worth a

visit, especially for their warm-hearted local hospitality.

Orange River Adventures

Pella Mission is truly in the middle of nowhere. Approximately 150km from Springbok, Pella boasts a striking yellow cathedral that was built by French missionaries in the late 1880’s.

Information courtesy of South African Tourism (www.southafrica.net)

 

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