The Northern Cape is the largest of South Africa’s nine provinces by area. The Free State, North-West and Eastern Cape provinces are its neighbouring provinces. The province has the lowest population density. Many people prefer the neighbouring province of the Western Cape, but the Northern Cape province offers several exciting attractions. Learn more about the things to do in the Northern Cape!
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21 Exciting Things to Do in The Northern Cape
The Northern Cape province of South Africa offers attractions for history buffs, nature lovers and the adventurous. This map shows the things to do in the Northern Cape:
Here are the most tourist attractions of the Northern Cape:
- 21 Exciting Things to Do in The Northern Cape
- Visit the Augrabies Falls in The Augrabies Falls National Park
- Learn About South Africa’s Diamond Mining History in Kimberley
- Do the Belgravia Historical Walk
- Learn About the Boer War at The Magersfontein Battlefield and Museum
- Drive One of The Many 4×4 Trails
- See Wildlife in The Kalagadi Transfrontier Park
- Gaze at The Stars in Sutherland
- Walk with Dinosaurs at Fraserburg
- Visit the Namaqua National Park for Its Flowers
- Do Water Sports on The Orange River While Exploring Upington
- Have a Meal at Die Vetmuis
- Things Do Do in The Northern Cape: Enjoy the Riemvasmaak Hot Springs
- See the Quiver Tree Forest as One of The Interesting Things to Do in The Northern Cape
- Visit the Otherworldly Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park
- See Buffalo and Hippos at The Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve
- Visit the Historic Klipkoppie in Springbok
- Experience the Afrikaner Culture at the Kalahari Kuierfees
- See Endangered Animals at The Mokala National Park
- Do a Game Drive or Watch Birds at The Tankwa Karoo National Park
- View the Water Canals at Kakamas
- Experience the Green Kalahari
Visit the Augrabies Falls in The Augrabies Falls National Park
The Augrabies Falls is one of South Africa’s natural wonders and ranks among the six largest waterfalls in the world. You can find the Augrabies Falls in the Augrabies Falls National Park, one of South Africa’s many national parks. The Khoi people called the falls “the place of great noise”. The Augrabies Falls are the most impressive in the rainy summer season when the water thunders down the rocks. Other sights in the Augrabies Falls National Park include the beautiful flowers, animals and the unique Moon Rock. If you’re more adventurous, consider doing a hot air balloon ride or river rafting on the Orange River.
There are several hiking trails in the Augrabies National Park, ranging from the 2km Gorge Trail to the 3-day Klipspringer Hike. Other activities include bird watching from a bird hide, catching and releasing, fishing, and game drives.
Learn About South Africa’s Diamond Mining History in Kimberley
History lovers will find a visit to Kimberley fascinating. Kimberley is the capital city of the Northern Cape Province and used to be known as the Diamond City because of its diamond mining history. In Kimberley, don’t miss the Big Hole, a deep and sizeable hand-dug hole created in the diamond rush.
A visit to the Big Hole includes exploring the Kimberley Mine Museum and watching a movie about the diamond history of Kimberley. The museum area has 50 buildings depicting life during the diamond rush. It includes shops, houses and doctor’s medical rooms with furnishings from the time of the diamond rush. There is even a bar from that time that is still operating! A rickety, open-sided tram runs from the City Hall, which is in the museum area.
Looking for a place to stay – try the Protea Hotel Kimberley!
Do the Belgravia Historical Walk
The Belgravia Historical Walk is near Kimberley. Visitors can explore beautiful Victorian villas when they do the Belgravia Historical Walk. There are over 30 sites, starting at McGregor Museum. The Museum offers visitors an excellent overview of the region’s history and used to be a temporary residence for Cecil John Rhodes.
Some highlights of the walk are the Dunluce, a Victorian building from 1897, and the Rudd House, which belonged to the mining magnate H. P. Rudd. The 13-story Harry Oppenheimer Building (1974) is where experts grade any diamond found in South Africa.
Another sight on tour includes the Duggan Cronin Gallery with its unique collection of photos of native people from South Africa, taken between 1919 and 1939. The photos cover traditional tribal rites, which no one can photograph again. Visitors can also visit the William Humphreys Art Gallery, which opened in 1952 and features work from South African, Flemish, Dutch, French and British artists.
Learn About the Boer War at The Magersfontein Battlefield and Museum
Near Kimberly is the battlefield of Magersfontein, which is the place where the Boere defeated the British during “Black Week” in the Boer War. Visitors can see the battlefield and trenches from an observation deck. There is a small museum with audio-visual presentations and displays of uniforms and weapons from the Boer War.
You can learn more details about the Boer war by doing a guided tour. Visitors can also visit the hilltop memorials, which honour those that died during this time. From here, there are beautiful views of the area.
Drive One of The Many 4×4 Trails
The Northern Cape is a paradise for 4×4 drivers. There are many 4×4 trails in the province, offering you an opportunity to try different terrains, ranging from rocky mountain terrain to sandy terrains in the Kalahari desert. Some of the best places to do a 4×4 trail are the Goegap Nature Reserve and the Tankwa Karoo National Park.
See Wildlife in The Kalagadi Transfrontier Park
Another of South Africa’s national parks, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers visitors an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, including black-maned Kalahari lions, leopards, meerkats, gemsbok and a variety of birds. You can also take stunning photographs of the red dunes and golden grasslands. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is popular. You may need to book several months in advance to secure a spot at one of the Park’s many hotels, lodges and other accommodation options.
Gaze at The Stars in Sutherland
Sutherland is one of the best destinations for stargazing in the southern hemisphere. It is well-known globally as an important astronomical centre with the Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT, on a nearby mountain.
Walk with Dinosaurs at Fraserburg
A unique experience in the Northern Cape is to “Walk with Dinosaurs” on a rock surface that is over 250 million years old. This site, near Fraserburg, has hundreds of dinosaur footprints, worm trails and more. Visitors can do a two-hour interactive tour, which includes a visit to the fossil museum. Optional activities include a fossil hunt with a palaeontologist to find your own fossil!
Visit the Namaqua National Park for Its Flowers
A must-do in the Northern Cape province is a visit to the Namaqua National Park. Here, stunning blooming daisies, gladioli, aloes, and lilies completely transform the desert area. The area has over four thousand floral species of a quarter that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. The best time for a visit is from August to the beginning of October. For the best chance of seeing the flowers during South Africa’s spring season, go to the Skilpad section of the Namaqua National Park.
Do Water Sports on The Orange River While Exploring Upington
The Orange River, or Oranje River in Afrikaans, flows from the Lesotho Highlands to the Atlantic ocean. It forms the border between South Africa and Namibia. It also separates the Great Karoo and the Kalahari desert.
Upington is a town on the banks of the Orange River. The terrace behind the Irish Pub offers a good view of the Orange River with its swans. You can try canoeing or whitewater rafting on the Orange River. Another must-do activity is doing the sunset boat cruise on the Orange River with Sakkie Se Arkie. You can find the Kalahari-Oranje Museum in Upington, where you can see a life-sized bronze statue of a donkey, sculpted by Hennie Potgieter to honour donkeys for their role in this area in the 1880s.
Have a Meal at Die Vetmuis
The Northern Cape has many farmstalls, one of which is the Vetmuis Plaaskombuis in Richmond. Here, you can choose authentic Karoo meals, traditional South African snacks and bespoke gifts.
Things Do Do in The Northern Cape: Enjoy the Riemvasmaak Hot Springs
Although somewhat remote, a visit to the Riemvasmaak Hot Springs is worth it! The hot springs are in a ravine in a mountain desert wilderness area. There are several hot mineral spring pools, but you can also do a 4×4 trail or hike down to the Orange River.
See the Quiver Tree Forest as One of The Interesting Things to Do in The Northern Cape
Another unique attraction of the Northern Cape is the Quiver Tree Forest on Gannabos, a farm near Loeriesfontein and Nieuwoudtville. The Forest is the world’s largest colony of quiver trees (flowering aloes). Quiver trees store water in their trunks and can live up to 400 years, making them perfect for the dry conditions of the Northern Cape. The San (Bushmen) used dried branches of quiver trees to make quivers for their poison arrows. The best time for a visit is when these trees flower, typically in May, June, and July.
Visit the Otherworldly Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park
The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park is spectacular with an otherworldly appearance with its landscape’s volcanic mountains, red sand, strangely-shaped trees and crumbled rocks.
The Orange River flows through this park, and visitors can do fly-fishing and whitewater rafting here. Other activities include guided bikes and viewing birds. You need a four-wheel-drive vehicle for a self-drive experience in this park. Otherwise, consider doing a guided tour from Kimberley.
The best times to visit the park are August and September, when the succulents flower. The succulents here represent nearly a third of South Africa’s succulent species.
See Buffalo and Hippos at The Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve
The Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve offers game drives to see buffalo up close. Visitors can picnic on the jetty over the Seekoei River while viewing the only hippos in the province. The reserve is a working farm with tame Eland, sheep and pigs.
Visitors can sleep on a Karoo plain at night while searching for the Karoo Shy 5 – bat-eared fox, aardvark, porcupine, aardwolf, Cape fox or black-footed cat among the stars.
Visit the Historic Klipkoppie in Springbok
Klipkoppie (rocky hill) is a mound of granite boulders in the centre of Springbok‘s town. General Jan Smuts’ commando blew up a British fort on this spot during the Anglo-Boer War.
Experience the Afrikaner Culture at the Kalahari Kuierfees
Die Eiland resort near Upington hosts the Kalahari Kuierfees in September each year. The local Afrikaner community celebrates their language, food and culture. There are craft stalls, a flea market, a triathlon and Afrikaner music and dances.
See Endangered Animals at The Mokala National Park
The Mokala National Park protects some of South Africa’s most endangered animals, such as the white and black rhino. Other animals visitors can see include tsessebe, caracal, black wildebeest, giraffe, aardwolf, oryx and zebra. It also has a variety of bird species.
Do a Game Drive or Watch Birds at The Tankwa Karoo National Park
The Tankwa Karoo National Park is remote, and visitors may not have a cellphone signal here. Some animals in the park are mongoose, red hartebeest, oryx and many types of reptiles. Birdwatching is also popular here. There are multiple 4×4 trails to choose from.
View the Water Canals at Kakamas
The Dutch Reformed Church established Kakamas in 1897. The name is Khoi and means “poor pasture”. Kakamas is a lush valley with vines, flowers and cotton growing along the Orange River. Visitors can view the town’s water canals built in the early 20th century.
Experience the Green Kalahari
The Green Kalahari is a region in the Northern Cape featuring diverse colours and stunning landscapes. The Augrabies Falls National Park and the towns of Kakamas and Upington are part of the Green Kalahari.