The Northern Cape is a place of vast, arid plains, spectacular scenery and big sky. It is mostly desert or semi-desert – but make no mistake, it has plenty to offer. It is home to one of the world’s most spectacular natural floral displays: each year during spring, the area of Namaqualand is transformed into a vibrant carpet of colour by millions of blooming wildflowers. 

Overview of the Northern Cape

The Northern Cape, which is bordered by Namibia and Botswana, is the largest of South Africa’s nine provinces (it takes up about a third of the entire country) and is very sparsely populated. In some areas it is possible to drive for hours without coming across any people.

Its sparse desert landscape and spectacular open spaces are especially appreciated at night – with no light pollution, the night sky is ideal for astronomy enthusiasts.

The Northern Cape is also the home of the Khoisan, who are the descendants of two peoples – the San hunter-gatherers and the Khoikhoi.

The lure of the Northern Cape is definitely its natural attractions, which include the annual Namaqualand wildflower display in spring (late August/September), the spectacular Augrabies Falls, and the winding oasis that is the Green Kalahari.

Its rugged terrain also makes it ideal for 4×4 adventurers, while the Gariep (Orange) River is ideal for river-rafting enthusiasts.

The province is steeped in history and culture, so take the time to explore some of its many unique museums, like the Windmill Museum in Loeriesfontein; or to go on a ghost tour through Kimberley’s historic houses, monuments and battlefield sites.

It is also home to the Richtersveld World Heritage Site, home to the Nama, a semi-nomadic group of people who have followed the same seasonal migratory pattern for thousands of years.

For those that are interested in cultures, make a point of meeting the locals – here you will meet some of most friendly and hospitable people in the country, who have plenty of fascinating stories to tell.

The Northern Cape’s capital, Kimberley, has air and rail links with most of the major cities in South Africa, which makes it easy to get there or travel around the province. The luxury Blue Train and Rovos Rail pass through the city. There are also a number of intercity bus companies that operate across the province.