Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

The Northern Cape is South Africa’s prime destination for adventure sports and thrilling outdoor activities, with its unspoiled terrain making it a drawcard for 4x4 enthusiasts ranging from weekend leisure-trippers to serious off-roaders. 

Take, for example, the rugged mountains of the Richtersveld, the endless flatlands of the Diamond Coast, the contrasting landscapes of the Green Kalahari and the undulating dunes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – and you have the perfect recipe for a fun and challenging off-roading experience that will please all 4x4 eco-adventurers.

Here are a few suggested 4x4 trails to undertake on your next trip to the Northern Cape:

Daberas Adventures 4x4 Route

Daberas Farm is a 10 000ha ecotourism destination on the southwestern border of the Augrabies Falls National Park. The 25km 4x4 trail is great for a weekend getaway with your family or a group of friends seeking out some outdoor fun in the sun. Here, you will meander through dry riverbeds, encountering intriguing geology, quiver trees and rocky koppies.

Trails on this Northern Cape farm use an existing network of farm roads and tracks. Expect to spot an array of wildlife such as mammals, reptiles and bird species. This trail route will guide travellers to one of the highest peaks in the area with spectacular views of the lower Orange River valley and the 1 000m-high Nama Plateau.

For accommodation, camping facilities with a covered food preparation area are available at Daberas Farm – or you can book at the Cape Ebony Lodge, which sleeps five people, or the self-catering Starlet Lodge. There is also a swimming pool to take a dip in on a hot summer day.

The recommended time to visit this area is between March and December each year. Please note that only 10 vehicles are permitted at a time on this trail.

For bookings and more information, email daberasadventures@webmail.co.za.

Diamond Coast 4x4 Shipwreck Trail

The Diamond Coast Shipwreck Trail stretches along Namaqualand’s coastline for approximately 37km. This trail, which is ideal for 4x4 enthusiasts, explores dunes, shipwrecks and disused diamond mines. 

Here, travellers have the rare opportunity to explore the rocky coastline between Koingnaas and Kleinzee that has, over the decades, exacted a toll on several ships that tried to come ashore (some in search of diamonds) in this part of the Northern Cape.

Shipwreck tour route trail
Explore the Namaqualand Diamond Coast from the comfort of your own 4x4 vehicle and stop to marvel at the beauty of nature along the way. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Hear fascinating stories told by locals about the vessels wrecked here such as the SS Piratiny, a Brazilian cargo ship lost in June 1943; the British ship Border that ran aground in 1947; and the Arosa, wrecked in 1976.

During spring, visitors can look forward to immersing themselves in the area’s rolling hills covered in wildflowers including orange daisies, yellow pietsnot, purple and yellow vygies, and white sporie. 

Another activity to look forward to when doing a 4x4 eco-trail here is visiting the Die Kliphuis on the farm Zwart Duine.

For bookings and more information, phone +27 (0)27 877 0028 or email coast.of.diamonds@gmail.com. Another popular Namaqualand 4x4 route, spanning mountains and coastline, is the Caracal Eco-Route.

Cammspannen 4x4 Trail

Cammspannen is located in the Mier area, about 325km from Upington via Twee Rivieren on the R360. This private nature reserve covers 12 800ha of Kalahari dune veld and its northern border is only a kilometre south of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The trails here take place over six nights and five days, and cover a distance of 965km in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Each guided tour takes a minimum of two and a maximum of five vehicles. Self-guided drives are also available, but each individual or small group has to be accompanied by a Cammspannen staff member.

B Camms 04
Cammspannen is perfect for nature lovers who love the vastness of the Kalahari dunes. (Image: Kalahari Tours and Travel)

The 4x4 trails in Cammspannen are dotted with impressive sunset viewpoints as far as the eye can see. Visitors can expect a world of adventure, as well as birdwatching and encountering wildlife from the nearby transfrontier park, not to mention quietness and tranquility with breathtaking views of the uninhabited landscape.

Cammspannen also offers private and corporate 4x4 tours on request. The trails can accommodate motorbikes as well as quad bikes, but these are strictly limited to the marked trails.

For accommodation, there is a rustic bush camp available to visitors with a fully equipped kitchen, a fireplace, a reed shade structure and canvas igloo tents with mattresses or camping beds. Alternatively, visitors can bring their camping gear. Flushing toilets and showers are available.

For bookings and more information, phone +27 (0)82 493 5041 or email dantes@kalahari-tours.co.za

De Postjes Trail

De Postjes 4x4 Trail, situated in the Nuweveld Mountains in the Karoo, is a challenging route and one that should preferably be explored by experienced drivers. The trail extends over five farms and covers a total distance of between 5km and 45km, with a travel time of between one and four hours. 

This trail celebrates the vastness of the Karoo, including its arid yet scenic landscapes, majestic mountains and overhanging cliffs. To meander through the trail, you will need a 4x4 or 2x4 (for shorter routes).

Northern Cape Karoo
In addition to off-roading on the De Postjes Trail, visitors can enjoy horse riding, mountain biking and scenic hikes. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

For visitors planning a trip around springtime, the area becomes carpeted with wildflowers, for which the Northern Cape is world famous. There is also wildlife to spot in this region of South Africa’s largest province, including lynx, jackal, antelope and rock hyrax (dassies). Birds of prey such as black eagles nest in the rugged mountains.

Other activities to enjoy in this area include horse riding, mountain biking and hiking. Book a stay at the farmhouse, which can take up to 11 people at a time, or at the two corbelled units or campsites.

Drivers are cautioned to make sure their vehicle’s fuel tank is at least three-quarters full before attempting the complete trail.

For more information, phone +27 (0)23 741 1111.

For a list of other 4x4 trails to explore in the Northern Cape, click here.