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Northern Cape Attractions

NORTHERN CAPE  
ATTRACTIONS

The Northern Cape 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. An utterly beautiful coastline and a number of unique national parks offer the tourist a very different experience of South Africa
   
During the world's greatest diamond rush, hordes of prospectors converged on the region, scouring the river
banks and sifting soil in a frenetic quest for wealth. At times, there were as many as 30 000 diggers labouring all day and far into the night. Although the name Kimberley evokes images of glamour and romance, the diamond heyday was an era of blood, sweat and tears, high stakes and ruthless power struggles. Kimberley developed around the huge hole in the ground, formerly a small hill known as Colesberg Koppie, where diamonds were discovered early in 1871. An observation platform provides a good view of the Big Hole, about 365 m deep and covering an area close on 15,5 ha. Between 1871 and 1914, men toiled to remove some 25 million tons of earth from the site. It yielded about 14,5 million carats of diamonds.
 

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During the world's greatest diamond rush, hordes of prospectors converged on the region, scouring the river banks and sifting soil in a frenetic quest for wealth. At times, there were as many as 30 000 diggers labouring all day and far into the night. Although the name Kimberley evokes images of glamour and romance, the diamond heyday was an era of blood, sweat and tears, high stakes and ruthless power struggles. Some struck it rich; others found only despair. Many emerged from obscurity to achieve fame, and in some cases, notoriety. Against an unlikely backdrop of heat, dust, flies and a jumble of tents and shacks, spacious homes began to rise from the veld. By the turn of the century, Kimberley had become the diamond capital of the world, and South Africa was well on the way to establishing herself as the most highly industrialised country on the continent. Kimberley's diamond millionaires were largely responsible for financing the Witwatersrand goldfields. Today, Kimberley is a modern city with broad, tree-lined streets, attractive parks and gardens, comfortable hotels and busy shopping centres. But the extraordinary saga of its past, an aura of adventure and drama, seems ever-present. It's easy to conjure up a picture of the diggers, loafers, gamblers and "ladies" of ill repute who once inhabited the dusty shanty town.
 
The Vaalbos National Park is an extraordinary area along the Vaal River where wildlife such as black and white rhino, buffalo, eland, red hartebeest and tsessebe can be seen in the former heart of the the alluvial diamond diggings near Kimberley. A tourist route, built with material from the diamond diggings using local labour, winds through the park, exposing visitors to all facets of its three different ecosystems as they merge together as one. The name Vaalbos originates from the vaalbos (camphor bush), a prominent plant species in the Vaalbos National Park. The largest part of the vegetation of Vaalbos National Park consists of Kalahari thornveld invaded by Karoo, while a small section along the banks of the Vaal River consists of the false Orange River Broken Veld.

One of the interesting features of the Vaalbos National Park is the interface of two biomes, namely the Savannah Biome and the Nama-Karoo Biome that meet in the Gras-Holpan section. The most common tree in the Vaalbos National Park is the tree the park has been named after, Vaalbos, the camphor bush.
 
The portion of the great Kalahari desert that lies in the Northern Cape is but part of a large arid to semi-arid sandy area known as the Kalahari Basin, covering 2.5 million square kilometres that stretch from the Orange River to cover most of Botswana and parts of Namibia. It evokes a picture of never ending red sand dunes, big, blue skies and a scorching sun that shimmers unrelentingly on ancient dry riverbeds, known as omuramba.

The Kalahari, derived from the Tswana Kgala, which means ‘great thirst’ or ‘waterless place’ is a vast area of red sand dunes, the southern part of which dominates the Northern Cape. Yet set along the border with the North West province are the mostly unfamiliar mining towns and villages of Black Rock, Dibeng, Kathu, Van Zylsrus, Hotazel, Dingleton, Olifantshoek and Kuruman. The Kalahari is both deceptive and alluring. Deceptive because beneath the surface of apparent desert lies an incredible wealth of iron, manganese and other precious ores, which explains the mining towns, and alluring for visitors because of the many game farms and nature reserves to which the Kalahari is home.

Despite the wilderness, the Kalahari is not true desert in the sense of being unable to support life. Parts of the Kalahari receive as much as 250 millimetres of rainfall, albeit erratically, throughout the year, and grasses and acacias easily support large species of antelope, hyenas, lions, meerkats, giraffe, warthogs and jackals. Nature Reserves like the beautiful Witsand Nature Reserve, with its famous ‘roaring sands’ of the Kalahari - dunes that emit a rather uncanny rumble when disturbed – and Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, surrounded by the beautiful Koranneberg Mountains on the edge of the Kalahari, one of the largest private game reserves in the country, are part of the allure of the Kalahari
 
The Karoo is famous for its wide open spaces and healthy climate. The seemingly arid soil of the Karoo bursts into life after rains, which totally transform the landscape. Hardy succulents are complemented by grasses on which the region’s cattle graze. Seemingly countless windpumps are indicative of the countless streams that flow between cracks and fissures that lie beneath the dry but fertile soil. Small towns with distinct Karoo architecture and their imposing churches lie in the valleys between lone flat-topped koppies. Visit Colesberg, a perfectly situated stopover for travellers from Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal to the Cape a sheep-farming centre, then travel on to Hopetown where South Africa’s first recorded diamond was found. Return via Orania which is a self-proclaimed Afrikaner 'volkstaat', and take some time to visit the Rolfontein Reserve on the shores of the Vanderkloof Dam
 
The Khoi people called it 'Aukoerebis', the place of the Great Noise, referring to the Orange River thundering its way downwards for 60 metres in a spectacular waterfall. Picturesque names such as Moon Rock, Ararat and Echo Corner are descriptive of this rocky region, characterised by the 18 kilometre abyss of the Orange River Gorge and craggy outcrops dominating scrub-dotted plains. Klipspringer and kokerboom (quiver trees) stand in stark silhouette against the African sky, silent sentinels in a strangely unique environment where only those that are able to adapt ultimately survive. The 28 000 hectares on both the northern and southern sides of the Orange River provide sanctuary to a diversity of species, from the very smallest succulents, birds and reptiles to springbok, gemsbok and the endangered black rhino
 
Our wines are renowned for their healthy colours and distinctive aromatic and flavour properties, all of which are inherited from the prevailing terroir conditions, enhanced by avant garde cellar technology.Great emphasis is placed on delivering complex, fruit-driven wines, immediately accessible, easily drinkable, and consumer friendly. Within every portfolio of wines there are some variants which can also be bottle matured for varying periods of time. In addition, oak treatment is at times employed through stave and/or barrel wood application to add judiciously to the flavour personality of the selected wines
 
Karoo is a “quenna” word meaning “dry and hard”. Gariep is also a “quenna” word meaning “big water”or river. The Karoo Gariep Concervancy is found on the Karoo “dry and hard” side of the Gariep “big river”. Like its name describes this is a very natural diverse part of South Africa. The fact that the N1 route runs through the Karoo Gariep Conservancy adds to its popularity and it is geographically halfway between Cape Town and Johannesburg. The direct effect of this diversity in habitat is the variety of wildlife and birdlife you get here. The bushman etchings found on the conservancy are evident of this. Many of the animals are nocturnal to adjust to the harsh climate.The conservancy was founded in 2005 by P.C. Ferreira. It is home to the only hippos in the Karoo. They have been reintroduced after the last ones were shot out of this system more than 200 years ago. This act has won P.C the very prestige Kudu award from South Africa Parks Board for his contribution to conservation in South Africa.
 
Karoo is a “quenna” word meaning “dry and hard”. Gariep is also a “quenna” word meaning “big water”or river. The Karoo Gariep Concervancy is found on the Karoo “dry and hard” side of the Gariep “big river”. Like its name describes this is a very natural diverse part of South Africa. The fact that the N1 route runs through the Karoo Gariep Conservancy adds to its popularity and it is geographically halfway between Cape Town and Johannesburg. The direct effect of this diversity in habitat is the variety of wildlife and birdlife you get here. The bushman etchings found on the conservancy are evident of this. Many of the animals are nocturnal to adjust to the harsh climate.The conservancy was founded in 2005 by P.C. Ferreira. It is home to the only hippos in the Karoo. They have been reintroduced after the last ones were shot out of this system more than 200 years ago. This act has won P.C the very prestige Kudu award from South Africa Parks Board for his contribution to conservation in South Africa
 

Situated next to The Big Hole, this open-air museum (one of the finest in the world) depicts Kimberley in its Victorian heyday during the diamond rush. It incorporates shops and houses, a church, diggers' tavern, Barney Barnato's Boxing Academy, and the De Beers directors' private railway coach. The Transport Hall contains an assortment of late 19-century vehicles, and De Beers Hall houses a display of uncut diamonds, stones of different colours and items of jewellery. Also on display are the "616" (616 carats), the largest uncut diamond in the world, and the "Eureka", the first diamond discovered in South Africa. Open daily from 08h00 to 17h00.

 
The spring wild flowers are a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze and delight, even for those who live in what is considered South Africa's "outback" Namaqualand. What at first glance appears to be a wilderness of semi-desert - arid, dusty plains that stretch before one, dramatic mountains in the background, with little by way of colour or animation - is suddenly transformed, as if by a painter with a manic palette, into a pageant of flowers.The Namaqualand Flower Route lies roughly 5 hours north of Cape Town. You can already see evidence of flowers even in Cape Town, and Postberg, a small section of the West Coast National Park close to Langebaan, gets the juices flowing, but the real flower show belongs to a series of drives that centre on the towns of Garies, Springbok, Kamieskroon and Port Nolloth, way up the N7
 
The Green Kalahari is a world full of wonders and contrasts. Here is where the lush green vineyards stand proud in the valley bearing magical fruits not far from where the shimmering Orange River thunders into a deep granite gorge to create the mighty Augrabies Falls. It’s a land of genuine natural beauty where the lions and the leopard, cheetah, gemsbok, springbok, and hyena roam free through beckoning bushman grass, camel thorn and shepherd trees. As you enter this land, you will soon understand and come to appreciate the land we call the Green Kalahari. The Green Kalahari boasts the best of both worlds: unspoiled semi-desert against the lush vineyards that fill the fertile valleys of the Orange River. This massive body of water makes its way through this harsh and dry landscape bringing life to the region and an oasis to locals and animals alike.

 

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