Northern Cape

From the open savannahs and rolling red dunes of the Kalahari Desert, to the beautiful carpet of vibrant flowers that cover Namaqualand each year, the Northern Cape is an alluring destination. 

Northern Cape

The largest of South Africa’s provinces but one of the least visited, the Northern Cape promises to immerse you in the magic of the wilderness. Bordering both Namibia and Botswana, this vast region covers almost a third of South Africa but holds only 2% of the country’s population. One of the area’s biggest attractions is the beautiful wildflowers that blanket the usually arid and dusty plains of Namaqualand during late August and early September. With over 3,500 different plant species in the region, the riot of red, orange, purple, and yellow flowers is a sight that never ceases to amaze. Watching the butterflies skip and dance through this miracle of nature is one of our favourite ways to pass the day. The busy little town of Springbok lies at the heart of Namaqualand and makes a great base from which to explore the area. There is plenty of scope to experience a range of activities here, including discovering the nature trails by 4x4, on foot, or mountain bikes. Or, for those that prefer to relax on the water, we’d suggest a rafting trip or a spot of fishing on the Orange River. South Africa’s longest river, the Orange River rises in the Drakensberg Mountains, flowing west to the Atlantic Ocean. The area also boasts some ancient Bushman rock art; a guided visit is the perfect way to discover more about the area’s first hunter-gatherers, the San people.

For those looking to experience South Africa’s last great wilderness, we recommend immersing yourself in the Kalahari dunes. The southern part of the Kalahari – found in South Africa’s Northern Cape – is known as the ‘green desert’, containing semi-arid grassland and open savannahs, which is rich in a diverse array of habitats. Sheltered by the Korannaberg Mountains, the land supports 80 species of mammal and over 240 species of birds. The area is also malaria-free, making this a great option for a family safari. You will see plenty of plains game, including zebra, buffalo, giraffe, and many different types of antelope, which in turn attract all the large predators, including the famous black-maned lion. This is also one of the best places in the country to see the excitable meerkat, along with rarer species, such as the aardvark, pangolin, honey badger, and African wild cat.

We would recommend staying on a private reserve such as Tswalu Kalahari Reserve for an intimate safari experience, where the number of people and vehicles on a game drive is strictly controlled. With a range of children’s activities, as well as the opportunity to experience guided walks, horseback safaris, and hot air ballooning over the Kalahari, we think the personal approach offered by a private reserve makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

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