Northern Cape Attractions
The Northern Cape province is the largest in area of all the South African provinces, but due to its extremely dry climate, has less than 2% of the country's population.The Northern Cape's Augrabies Falls, the world's six largest waterfall at 200m/656ft deep, are fittingly named from the Khoi word which means 'place of great noise'. The Augrabies Falls National Park and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park are among the best known of the Northern Cape's reserves.The discovery of the 83-carat 'Star of South Africa' diamond marked the beginning of the world's greatest diamond rush and in Kimberley, the Northern Cape's capital, is the 'Big Hole', the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. Other attractions include ancient cave and rock paintings, late Stone Age artifacts and reminders of the Anglo-Boer conflict.The Northern Cape's main sources of income are agriculture and mining. The regional language is Afrikaans.
The spectacular Augrabies Falls, now a national park, are located along the Orange River, near the border with Namibia. The falls run through a dramatic rock gorge in a very arid surrounding.
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park is closely associated neighboring Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, which together form a large tract of land covering 27,000 sq.km.
Kathu, 50km/31mi southwest of Kuruman, is the youngest town in South Africa, founded only in 1980. It now has a population of almost 10,000. The town owes its existence to the Iron and Steel Corporation (ISCOR), which erected modern functional buildings here and in the neighboring settlement of Sishen to house miners working the nearby deposits of iron ore, believed to be the largest in South Africa. Here too was established a nature reserve with an area of over 2000ha/5000ac in which are elands, springboks, gazelles, kudus, impalas, rhinos, red hartebeests, blesboks and steppe zebras.
Colesberg is situated in the Karoo, half way between Johannesburg and Cape Town on N 1. It is an attractive little place which makes a good stopover on a journey between the two cities. Like the neighboring town of De Aar, Colesberg was originally no more than a railroad junction. It was officially founded in 1829 and named after the then Governor of the colony, Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole.A few buildings survive from Colesberg's early days, including six lovingly restored houses in Bell Street. There is also a fine Dutch Reformed church of 1866.
Colesberg's museum of local history is housed in a former bank c 1860. Among the exhibits is a window-pane with the initials "D. P.", scratched on the glass with one of the first diamonds found in South Africa.
Kenhardt lies well off the main tourist routes, 141km/88mi south of Upington on a seemingly endless plateau, a barren region suitable only for sheep-farming.The town was founded in the early 19th C, when the governor of the Cape Colony sent a force of 20 soldiers to the area to protect the settlers and the north bank of the Orange River from the native population.
10km/6mi south of Kenhardt on the Brandvlei road is the Kokerboom Forest, now a nature reserve. The kocurboom ("quiver tree") is a giant aloe which produces yellow flowers in June. This slow-growing plant with a smooth bark and grayish-green leaves is excellently adapted to arid conditions, being able to store water in its trunk. In the Kenhardt area there are some 700 of these bizarre trees, which grow to a height of 4m/13ft. The Bushmen used to make quivers for their arrows from the wood of the kocurboom: hence its name.
12km/7.5mi south of Kenhardt a track branches off the Brandvlei road and runs east for some 60km/37mi to the Verneukpan, a dried-up salt lake which is a bird-watcher's paradise.