Experience the delightfully wide, cloudless, brilliant skies of Northern Cape; the picture-perfect hues of the heath; the clear-bottomed, sparkling streams dancing their way through the meadows; this just begins to describe this charming province. Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated of the nine South African provinces.
Carved out of the Cape Province in 1994, the Northern Cape was one of three provinces, the others being Western Cape to the south and Eastern Cape to the southeast.
Home to more than 1,000 San who immigrated from Namibia after the independence of the country, they served as trackers and scouts for the South African Defence Force during the South African Border War.
Amost 68% of the population speak Afrikaans, with other primary languages including Setswana, Xhosa and English.
Northern Cape has a shared history with the Western Cape to the South and Eastern Cape to the Southeast.
Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park - Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana's Gemsbok National Park merged to create one of the largest wilderness areas in the world (more than 3.6 million hectares), called the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Majestic black-maned Kalahari lions are the most iconic animal in this region. Goegap Nature Reserve, Namaqualand - The park protects animals that are uniquely adapted to the parched conditions, including antelopes, the endangered Hartmann's zebra, aardwolf, honey badger, and more than 94 species of birds. The Big Hole, Kimberley - Laying foundations of South Africa's wealth and located between the Northern Cape Province and the Orange Free State, Kimberley is a convenient stopover on the road from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
The Kimberley Mine Museum - On the west side of the Big Hole is the open-air Kimberley Mine Museum. There are about 50 buildings in this village, some original and some reproductions, representing Kimberley during the diamond rush days.
Augrabies Falls National Park - 6th largest falls in the world, "Augrabies" means "place of the great noise". The falls lives up to its name.
Mokala National Park - tourists can spot roan and sable antelope, tsessebe, black wildebeest, caracal, aardwolf, giraffe, kudu, oryx, zebra, and many species of birds.
Quiver Tree Forest - the world's largest colony of bizarre flowering aloes, also known as kokerboom, can be found on the farm Gannabos. The quiver tree can store water in its trunk and can live up to 400 years.
The Northern Cape cuisine offers a wide variety of ancient and absolutely unique tastes. In the north-western region of the province, taste seekers can discover the ancient culinary culture of the Khoi-Khoin. Descended from the earliest San hunter-gatherers, Khoi-Khoin cooks use indigenous edible flowers, plants and bulbs, known as veldkos, to create delicacies like num-num preserve, agurkie jam, and kukumakranka liqueur.
The essence of Northern Cape food can be tasted in the Karoo. The word Karoo is a Khoi-Khoi term meaning thirsty land, but the arid plains are filled with liquid-retaining indigenous edible plants. The diets of Karoo goats and lambs are rich in these plants, including wild mint, wild garlic, buchu and purslane, making their meat equally delicious.
Rainfall generally increases from West to East from a minimum average of 20 mm (0.79 in) to a maximum of 540 mm (21 in) per year. The West experiences the most rainfall in winter, while the East receives most of its moisture from late summer thunderstorms. Many areas experience extreme heat, with the hottest temperatures in South Africa measured along the Namibian border.
Kimberley averages: January maximum: 33 °C (91 °F) (min: 18 °C (64 °F)), June maximum: 18 °C (64 °F) (min: 3 °C (37 °F)) Springbok averages: January maximum: 30 °C (86 °F) (min: 15 °C (59 °F)), July maximum: 17 °C (63 °F) (min: 7 °C (45 °F)) Sutherland averages: January maximum: 27 °C (81 °F) (min: 9 °C (48 °F)), July maximum: 13 °C (55 °F) (min:−3 °C (27 °F))
Big Hole was dug from mid-July 1871 to 1914 by 50000 miners with picks and shovels to yield 2,722 kilograms of diamonds - by then it was renamed Kimberley Mine.
The Northern Cape is called the ‘Diamond Province’ as in 1867, the first diamond in South Africa was discovered near Hopetown.
95% of South Africa’s diamond output originates from the Northern Cape Province.
Upington Airport in Upington, which lies on the Orange River, has one of the longest runways in the world.
The 2250km long Orange River (also called Gariep or Oranje River) is the longest river in South Africa.
Augrabies Falls is the second biggest waterfall in South Africa.
Sutherland is home to the South African Large Telescope (SALT) which is the largest single optical telescope in the Southern hemisphere.
The 'Eye of Kuruman' is said to be the largest natural spring in the Southern Hemisphere pouring out around 20 million litres of spring water each day.
Namaqualand is home to the Namaqua dwarf adder which is the world’s smallest viper: they grow to a tiny 20cm and weigh less than 3g.