This province boasts a colourful history and a variety of cultural tourist attractions and is particularly well known for its incredible annual floral display that takes place in Namaqualand.
The Northern Cape lies to the south of the mighty Orange River and comprises mostly desert and semi-desert. The landscape is characterised by vast arid plains with outcroppings of haphazard rock piles. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the western boundary.
The Northern Province is littered with small towns that are fast growing in popularity with the arty set in search of peace and quiet. Places such as Nieuwoudtville, Calvinia, Poffadder and Springbok are definitely worth a visit - for their warm-hearted local hospitality.
This region covers the largest area of all the provinces yet has the smallest population. The last remaining true San (Bushman) people live in the Kalahari area of the Northern Cape. The whole area, especially along the Orange and Vaal rivers, is rich in San rock engravings. The province is also rich in fossils.
Apart from a narrow strip of winter-rainfall area along the coast, the Northern Cape is a semi-arid region with little rainfall in summer. The weather conditions are extreme cold and frosty in winter, and temperatures are extremely high in summer. Sutherland, in the Hantam Karoo, is one of the coldest towns in southern Africa with an average winter minimum is -6º Celsius. In winter, snow often blankets its surrounding mountains.
The capital of South Africa’s biggest province may not be the largest in the country, but to an intrepid traveller the diamond city of Kimberley aptly passes for the proverbial dynamite that comes in small sizes.
Visit any museum here and gain interesting insights into some of the country’s first inhabitants, trawl the townships that have an intricate mix of different people living together harmoniously, meander through places where the world’s biggest concentration of millionaires once walked or simply relax in the lushlawns of Kimberley’s gracious gardens.
But let’s start with the heartbeat of Kimberley. That which led to the birth of Kimberley itself – mining. Take a tram ride from the City Hall and head straight for the Big Hole of Kimberley.
Many people think there's nothing to get excited about a hole. After all it is just that – a hole. Mostly they are not wrong but some holes are worth every minute of your admiration. The Big Hole of Kimberley is one of them. Just imagine a hand-dug hole the size of eight football fields. It sounds crazy, but if we were to reverse the hands of time, I’m sure you and I would, without today’s equipment, still dig pick tip by pick tip for the precious metal. Check its price and you will understand why the digging is worth every drop of even today’s sweat. Something to the effect of a staggering 10 000 carats worth of each sweat drop.
Once a year, the Northern Cape’s Namaqualand offers one of South Africa’s finest floral displays – a dazzling dream come true.
During August and September, the area of Namaqualand is transformed into a brilliant carpet of wild flowers. The area is world-famous for its floral beauty – and photographic safaris to the area are very popular with both local and international tourists. Nowadays, it can be said that the Namaqualand experiences something of a `gold rush’ during peak season.
The spectacular sweeps of colour over the landscape are spectacular and also act as Nature's highlighters, indicating old fields or where ground has been overgrazed or ploughed up. In fact, the fields of orange and yellow that are so sought after at Skilpad Nature Reserve, now part of the promising Namaqua National Park, are managed by a careful dint of disturbance and ploughing after spring.