Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

Sift through the shipwrecks on the Cape to Namibia Route, listen to the ghost tales of Kimberley, track the gemsbok of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, or simply stoep-sit on a sunny veranda and take in the winter magic of the Northern Cape.

Here are six reasons why the Northern Cape should be your family winter holiday destination of choice:

Where nature and history meet

Cheetah
A cheetah visits a waterhole at the Mokala National Park. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Visit one of the iconic Northern Cape national parks – the famed Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Augrabies Falls National Park or Mokala National Park – for unforgettable encounters with various types of game. You can also explore archaeological sites and see the province's many different indigenous plant species, including some that you won't find anywhere else in the world.

In Kimberley, be sure not to miss the Big Hole and the mine tour, the Belgravia Historical Walk and the South African War (Anglo-Boer War) battlefield sites at Magersfontein. Traverse the nearby Go-Ghaap! Route and visit the Eye of Kuruman natural spring, as well as the Moffat Mission Station, and the Wonderwerk Cave (“wonderwerk” is the Afrikaans word for “miracle”) and its rock paintings just outside Danielskuil.

Edutainment for all ages

Magersfontein museum
With the Northern Cape boasting more than a dozen museums, visitors are guaranteed to never run out of educational learning experiences. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Museum visits are ideal for children to learn about the history and heritage of an area, and the Northern Cape offers a number of museums to satisfy almost any taste.

Do make a plan to visit the McGregor Museum, and learn about the siege of Kimberley and the natural history of the Northern Cape. The Calvinia, Port Nolloth and Springbok museums also feature historical accounts of their respective areas.

The Fred Turner Windmill Museum in Loeriesfontein offers a collection of more than 100 windmills and Africana, and there’s also a folk and culture museum housed in a church building on the same site. When passing through the small town of Richmond in the Karoo, be sure to stop and visit the Horse Museum.

Outdoor thrills galore

Bike Ride Game View
The fun never stops! Come and enjoy hiking, biking and river rafting in pristine landscapes with magnificent views all around. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

The mild winter temperatures in the province of extremes make it possible for visitors to enjoy 4x4 adventures, hiking and biking on the Richtersveld Route, or you can swim in the hot pools of Riemvasmaak and go river rafting and fishing on the Quiver Tree Route.

Hike one of the Tankwa Karoo Caminos, or go horse riding or fossil hunting in Fraserburg on the Karoo Highlands Route. Discover the tales and legends of the famed shipwrecks while slackpacking along the Cape to Namibia Route.

For the adventurous, go sandboarding on the gigantic dunes and donkey cart riding, before settling down to storytelling around the campfire, on the Kalahari Red Dune Route.

Galactic encounters

Quiver tree
Night really falls in the Northern Cape, bringing out a kaleidoscopic display of stars. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

One of the greatest joys of being out in the middle of nowhere is the thrill of looking up at night and seeing thousands and thousands of stars against a pitch-black sky.

The Northern Cape's lack of pollution – including light pollution, natural atmospheric pollution and man-made pollution – makes its skies come alive in a breathtaking galactic display.

Top stargazing sites include Sutherland, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Carnarvon and the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope project (which is open to the public for free on 3 July 2019), as well as the Tankwa Karoo National Park.

In fact, the Kgalagadi’s !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park was recently declared South Africa's first international dark-sky sanctuary, in recognition of its status as a world-class location for viewing the pristine southern night skies.

Traditional winter warmers

Aunt Koera
No winter trip to the Northern Cape is complete without enjoying a fresh-from-the-fire traditional roosterkoek (grilled bread), at Aunt Koera’s Farm Kitchen. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

One of the joys of visiting the Northern Cape in winter is the opportunity to wine and dine on traditional culinary delights. These include the veldkos (field food) of the Namaqua, wild rosemary-infused venison in the Karoo, and fireside dinners with roosterkoek (braai-grilled bread), venison potjies (stew made in a cast-iron pot), roasted Karoo lamb and slow-cooked tripe stew in the Kalahari.

Upcoming events not to miss

Make your winter trip to the Northern Cape extra-memorable by attending a local event: