4 Barnard St, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700

Call Craig: +27 82 091 7983 | Email: craig@southernafricantours.com

Call Bianca: +27 74 957 0355 | Email: bianca@southernafricantours.com

17 Best Things to do in the Northern Cape, South Africa

It’s a raw, rugged, primordial land, where generally kameeldoring, kokerboom and halfmens trees break the endless horizons. Yet some of nature’s greatest peculiarities here are occurrences of rejuvenating artistry. The Orange River waters the parched earth, creating the Green Kalahari with its vineyards and the mighty Augrabies Falls. After the rains, red Kalahari sand dunes shimmer with grasses, and Namakwa’s spring explodes into fields of multicoloured wildflowers.

1. Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park

Mobs of entertaining meerkats race across the dunes, antelopes roam the dry river beds chomping on thorny acacia trees, and as the big sun sets behind orange dunes, it leaves behind a celestial sky. Foremost of all are the predator sightings: prides of black-maned lions, powerful leopards and slender cheetah all prowling for their next meal.

In 2000, South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park unified, creating one of the largest wilderness areas on the planet. Red dunes, blue skies and golden grasslands provide a perfect canvas for photographic safaris in this merciless, arid region. Bird life is remarkable here, from the social weavers living in huge communal nests to rare endangered birds of prey.

Gemsbok in the Northern Cape

2. Augrabies Falls National Park

The Augrabies Falls, situated adjacent to Namibia, is one of South Africa’s iconic natural wonders. It is here, the Orange River plunges in a series of cascades almost 170 meters wide into a 19 km granite gorge enclosed by tall rock faces. In the language of the Khoi San who held the falls in awe as a spiritual place, the name Augrabies means “place of the great noise.” The falls are rated among the six largest in the world.

Enjoy self-drive safaris, and guided night game drives which allow you the opportunity to see nocturnal wildlife. The Klipspringer Hiking Trail is a three-day trail which carries you into the gorge at the bottom of the falls..

3. Quiver Tree Forest

The great Quiver Tree Forest, found on a farm near Nieuwoudtville is the world’s largest, these otherworldly flowering aloes are also known as kokerboom, (aloe dichotoma). Stop to admire these giant aloes on your way to Augrabies Falls and the Kalahari.

Able to store water in its trunk, the kokerboom can live up to 600 years and is perfectly adapted to the arid conditions. Its name comes from the Bushmen who used to make quivers for their poison arrows from the dried-out hollow branches. The best time to photograph these trees is when they produce their yellow, bright flowers, from May to July.

4. Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park – UNESCO world heritage site

In the western corner of the Northern Cape, is the spectacular, esoteric Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park. It is the most isolated national park in South Africa, the landscape here is made up of volcanic mountains, bizarre-shaped trees (half mens and kokerboom), baked red sand, semi – precious stones  and crumbled rocks. It is at once “unfriendly” and beautiful, and well worth exploring if you like to venture off the beaten track.

The Orange River also flows through this park that spans two countries, and where it does, you’ll find activities from white water canoeing to fishing.

The Richtersveld Community Conservancy is also the last refuge of Nama people living what is known as the transhumance lifestyle – to migrate seasonally with their livestock from mountains to the river and so make sustainable use of the fragile succulent ecosystem. It is due to this transhumance activity that the park was proclaimed a world heritage site in June 2007.

5. Adventure River Rafting

A rafting and canoeing adventure on the Orange River is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in the Northern Cape. We operate from our base camp located on the banks of the Orange River.

Our professional guides will look after your safety, provide delicious meals and ensure that your river rafting adventure will leave you feeling that Africa’s magic has touched your soul.

We want to say thanks to Chris for taking this beautiful photo of the orange river.

6. Tankwa Karoo National Park

Remote and rugged, Tankwa Karoo National Park is a land of haunting beauty. The national park lies near the border of the Northern and Western Cape in one of Southern Africa’s most arid regions, with stark desert plains and sparkling night skies.

Wildlife in the park includes leopard, springbok, red hartebeest, fox, mongoose, oryx, and a diversity of interesting reptiles. Birding is a popular activity, and visitors can enjoy self-drive game drives. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended.

 Please contact me if you would like more information about the Kruger National Park Southern African.  

 Call Craig + 27 820917983 or mail me craig@southernafricantours.com

7. South African Astronomical Observatory - Sutherland + SALT

A firm favorite thing to do is the two-hour night tour, which starts with a 15 min video, you then head outside to take a “sky safari”, thanks to two huge 42cm telescopes. Tour departures depend on the time of year.


8. Orange River Wine Cellars

Orange River Wine Cellars has expanded to include additional cellars along the mighty Orange River.

Today the farms produce 30 different wine products, many accomplishing international recognition. To learn more about the wines, a cellar tour is a must followed by wine tasting.

9. Upington

The gateway to the Kalahari Desert, and its main attraction, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The longest aircraft runway in Africa can be found in here. Upington is best known for its export-quality grapes and wines, which are cultivated on the rich flood plains of the Orange River.

10. Goegap Nature Reserve, Namaqualand

In the big-sky semi-desert of Namaqualand, Goegap Nature Reserve offers enjoyable 4×4 routes, and stunning displays of wildflowers in the spring. This reserve is worth visiting all year, even when the wildflowers aren’t in bloom.

The park primarily protects wildlife that are specially adapted to the harsh conditions, including many antelope species, the endangered Hartmann’s zebra, aardwolf, honey badgers, oryx, bat eared fox and more than 99 species of birds.

11. Diamond Coast

Rugged, unspoiled beaches with excellent surfing, breathtaking sunsets and large crayfish and abalone for the pot. The Diamond Coast is where people come and go and fortunes are won and lost. The Diamond Coast is where the scorching hot semi desert meets the cold Atlantic Ocean, it is a destination of spectacular beauty and where swimming is only for the courageous!

12. Tswalu Kalahari luxury game reserve

Situated in the malaria-free Northern Cape Province, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is the ultimate safari experience. The surroundings are delightfully simple with a luxury swimming pool opening to the remarkable scene of animals drinking at a watering hole.

A trip to Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is unique in many ways, offering an exclusive, tailor-made experience – not to mention an incredibly diverse population of animals, reptiles and birds.

Every effort is made to give a true African Safari experience at Tswalu.

13. Riemvasmaak Hot Springs

In the heart of the desert mountain reserve lies a sanctuary of peace and tranquility. Free your soul and wash off the dust of the Kalahari at Riemvasmaak Hot Springs.

14. Big Hole in Kimberley

Touring the world’s largest hand dug hole gives one a truthful impression of the mining industry’s lively past in Kimberley. The tour starts with a fascinating 18 minute film about mining conditions and local folk in late-19thC Kimberley, then a walk along the Big Hole viewing platform. A steel apparatus, extending out over the 1.7km-round hole, 216m deep abyss, enhances the vertigo-inducing view of the 40m deep turquoise water.

A lift takes you down a shaft for the simulated mine experience, where audio and visual effects give an idea of how bad life was for the early diamond miners. Sounds of falling rubble and explosions add to the claustrophobia.

15. Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve

Just south of Nieuwoudville, a series of deep ravines carved by the Oorlogskloof River offers spectacular scenery, here hiking trails traverse kloofs, rivers and plateaus, and often lead to caves, where you can see bushman paintings and find stone age tools.

There are one day and multi day hikes. This region is home to several rare bird species, including Booted and Verreaux’s eagles.

16. The Eye of Kuruman 

Has been a critical part of the town since its beginning. This natural spring in the heart of the town gushes forth 25million litres of crystal clear water every day, all year round.

Surrounding the spring is a beautiful pool of water, surrounded by willow and palm trees. This pool is home to a variety of aquatic life, including crabs and many fish, among which you can find a few species of Cichlid.

17. Fish River Canyon (theoretically not in the Northern Cape, but so close).

Nowhere else in Africa will you find anything quite like it. Whether you’re getting a taste of the sheer scale and beauty of the place from one of the lookouts, or hiking to immerse yourself in its multifaceted allure, the Fish River Canyon is a special place.

The canyon measures 165km in length and 29km in width, and the substantial inner canyon reaches a depth of almost 600m. But as remarkable as these figures are, it’s difficult to get a perspective without really experiencing the enormous scope of the canyon, something best done on the tremendous five-day hike that traverses more than half its length. The reward is nothing less than an exceptional  relationship with one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.