There’s more than enough to enjoy and explore in the province of extremes during this holiday season. Whether you’re a resident on a staycation or you’re visiting the Northern Cape this summer, here’s what you can get up to in Kimberley, Upington and Springbok.
The Big Hole, Kimberley
This man-made marvel makes for an entertaining and educational outing for the whole family. Although the mining ended in 1914, the Big Hole, which is 214m deep with a 1.6km perimeter, continues to attract visitors in droves because of its world-class tourist facilities. An interactive display around the Big Hole provides fascinating insight into the history of diamonds – from when they’re mined, right through to when the polished gem glistens as a jewellery item.
Visitors can also indulge in some retail therapy, explore the diamond vault and get firsthand experience of what it’s like to head into the belly of the Earth with the Underground Experience.
Entrance fees are R100 for adults and R60 for children between the ages of four and 12. A family of five – two adults and three children – can enter for R230, and pensioners pay R80 on Mondays. Students, who must provide a valid student card, pay R80.
Donkey cart rides, Upington
Donkey carts are a pleasant blast from the past that families can hop on to take in the scenery of the Northern Cape. Although this traditional mode of transport is still used by some locals, a ride on a donkey cart is a novel experience for many.
So for a fresh experience, forfeit the purr of an engine for the rhythmic clip-clopping hooves of a donkey. Places that offer donkey cart rides are the Oasis Development Centre in Market Street, Upington; the Klipkolk Lodge in the Mier area, Vera’s Kookskerm near Leliefontein; and guest farms in Mieliefontein.
Augrabies Falls National Park
South of Upington, along the N14, before you reach Springbok, is the Augrabies National Falls Park. One of the many activities visitors can enjoy here is family mountain biking along the park’s cycling trails.
Of course you can’t leave the park without viewing the Augrabies Falls, where water from the Orange River tumbles over the 56m-high rocky ledge. You can also enjoy a host of water activities on the Orange River, such as rafting and canoeing.
Goegap Nature Reserve
The Goegap Nature Reserve is about 15km south-east of Springbok, the principal town of the Namaqualand region. The reserve’s semi-desert plains host indigenous flora, particularly succulents, and plant species that are found nowhere else in the world. Animals you can spot here include springbok, gemsbok, mountain zebra and some 94 bird species recorded at the reserve.
The reserve is also home to the Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden. The garden has an exhibition of Namaqualand succulents as well as a rock garden.
The reserve has a 17km loop that visitors drive or walk along to explore the grounds. Families can also enjoy picnic sites, horse rides, hiking to see tree species, mountain bike trails and several 4x4 trails.