Experience a very different South Africa - one of wide-open spaces, haphazard rock piles, big African skies and a several unique national parks. Home to the ancient San people; the northern Cape is rich in rock art and culture. It is the largest of South Africa's provinces, with the smallest population. Witness the winter floral display as the deserts of Namaqualand bloom; or for something a little more adventurous, canoe down the rapids of the mighty Orange River. Go on safari into the red sand dunes of the Kalahari, where sparse vegetation and dry riverbeds offer premium sightings of predators and prey.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, together with the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, is Africa's first transfrontier game park, known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. With an area of over 2 million hectares, it is one of the largest nature conservation areas in southern Africa, and one of the largest remaining protected natural ecosystems in the world. Unfenced, the park is home to a variety of game, including the magnificent black maned lions, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, the elusive honeybadger, and many buck and bird species.
Augrabies Falls National Park
"Augrabies" is the Namaqua word meaning "place of great noise". It is here that the mighty Orange River spectacularly thunders down Africa's 2nd largest waterfall into a granite gorge. More than an impressive waterfall - the park is a fascinating desert/riverine ecosystem divided by an 18km ravine with several impressive cataracts. The climate is harsh, with an average rainfall of only 107mm and daytime temperatures in summer often reach 40 degrees celsius. The flora includes aloes, fig and several varieties of thorn trees and succulents. Adventure activities include rafting, hiking and cycling as well as canoe trails.
Richtersveld National Park
Created in 1991, the Richtersveld National Park is situated in northwestern Namaqualand. Described as "the land God created in fury", this mountainous, stark desert landscape offers some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa. Names such as Helskloof (Hell's Gorge), Devil's Tooth, Gorgon's Head and Skeleton Gorge paint a forbidding picture of our last wilderness. This rough and unforgiving landscape is home to the fascinating Nama people, and is popular with 4x4 enthusiasts and nature lovers.
The vast blue skies and endless sunbaked, shimmering plains of Namaqualand lie to the east of the Atlantic Ocean, and are broken only by the huge flat-topped Bokkeveld Mountains and bizarre rock formations. This barren land is transformed after the winter rains and between July and September, Namaqualand explodes in a riot of rainbow hues as a brilliant carpet of wild flowers swathes the earth. These broad brushstrokes of scarlet, yellow, white and orange attract both local and international tourists on photographic safaris, and have inspired countless poems and paintings.