Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

So, the holidays are over and school and work are in full swing. This, however, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy leisurely day trips or a Sunday picnic with the family in the province of extremes. Here are a few of the many spots for you to explore ...

Hantam National Botanical Garden

The Hantam National Botanical Garden is in Nieuwoudtville, a pretty, small town between Vanrhynsdorp and Calvinia just off the R27. The town is known as the “bulb capital of the world” for its large variety of indigenous bulbous plants.

The botanical garden is a must-see for those who want to explore the town’s fascinating natural environment. There's a picnic area on the lawn outside the office building, and guided tours on a safari vehicle are on offer. Visitors can also choose from nine different hiking trails.

Interestingly, unlike the rest of the Northern Cape province, which only has a flower season in spring, the garden has another one in autumn, when the area is carpeted in pink blooms, thanks to the Brunsvigea bosmaniae flower species.

Riemvasmaak Hot Springs

Hot Spring
The "conversation pit". (Image: Ralph Malan)

Natural hot springs surrounded by granite cliffs and stunning views of the rugged desert-mountain wilderness. This is what a trip to the Riemvasmaak Hot Springs will reward you with.

Riemvasmaak is a village between the Orange and Molopo rivers. The rocky landscape of this region was formed by volcanic activity eons ago. Visitors can unwind in the hot springs while taking in the area’s beautiful views.

Unique and indigenous vegetation, such as the camel thorn, and wild animals, including antelope and baboons, can also be viewed here.

Goegap Nature Reserve

Biking about. (Image: WildTrail SA)

The Goegap Nature Reserve is about 15km south-east of Springbok, the main town of the Namaqualand region. The reserve’s semi-desert plains host indigenous flora, particularly succulents, including species that are found nowhere else in the world.

Wildlife includes springbok, gemsbok, mountain zebra and some 94 bird species.

Visitors who want to further explore the region’s heritage and indigenous flora can visit the Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden, which has a information centre that explains Namaqualand's plant life. The garden, which is within the reserve, has an exhibition of Namaqualand succulents, as well as a rock garden.

The reserve also 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.