The gorgeous Northern Cape frequently gets a raw deal. Often ignored or overlooked for the more obviously exciting alternatives of the Eastern and Western Cape or the Limpopo, it doesn’t deserve its Cinderella complex, despite its apparent desert or semi-desert state.
If anything, these beautiful arid plains interspersed with haphazard rocky outcrops, brilliant blue skies, unique fauna and flora and the icy Atlantic that washes its western boundary give it a unique beauty all its own. And when it comes to beauty nothing beats the floral carpets that cover these scrub-covered plains come spring, or the star-filled skies during evenings.
What makes this province particularly attractive to adrenaline junkies is its largely open and unpopulated spaces. Rugged trails, dusty back roads, enchanting caves, diamond fields and the Northern Cape’s oasis – the Green Kalahari – offers endless outdoor adventure possibilities …
Northern Cape Adventure – Adrenalin Junkie Activities in the Northern Cape
Uncover the daisies in Namaqualand:
It’s imperative to define ‘adrenaline type expeditions’ around now, before we land ourselves in ‘hot water’ at waxing lyrical about flowers. Whilst discovering daisies in the beautiful Namaqualand does not require a desired level of fitness, it certainly gets the blood pumping for the sheer beauty of this magical floral display.
After the first winter rains, seeds that have lain dormant from the year before suddenly begin to germinate and as spring begins, burst into flower. Timing is everything, and if you must work up a sweat, then do it at a hop, skip and a jump, or soar over the Namaqualand on a hot air balloon! Alternatively hike the Malan Wild Flower Garden in the Goegap Nature Reserve.
Ride the Orange River:
Hardly a traditional take on the life force of the Northern Cape. The Orange River, Gariep river, Groot River or Senqu River is the longest in the country. Along its banks runs a green agricultural belt that is in stark contrast to the ruggedness of the Richtersveld. Sometimes also known as the Green Kalahari, the Orange River is flanked by a combination of vineyards, farms and game farms.
A number of canoe tours ride the waters along which there are regular camps where you get to sleep under the stars. During the day the waters can vary from smooth and tepid to fast-paced rapids. It’s a tough but beautiful view of the Northern Cape’s greener side.
Contact: Umkulu Safari & Canoe Trails on +27 (0)21 853-7952 or Felix Unite on +27 (0)21 702-9400.
Do the Gariep 3-in-1 Adventure in the Augrabies:
This combination of canoeing, walking and mountain biking should get the adrenaline pumping. Row 4 kilometres through a gorge along the Orange River, then desert hike 4 kilometres, and return to camp by mountain bike on gravel road for 12 kilometres.
This allows a wonderful exploration of the Augrabies National Park. It’s also not the only adventure you can follow in the park. You can choose from the Aukoerebis 4×4 eco-trail, and a three day Klipspringer hiking trail.
Contact: Augrapies National Park on +27 (0)54 452-9200 or SAN Parks on +27 (0)12 428-9111.
Sandboard the roaring dunes of the Kalahari:
The beautiful Witsand Nature Reserve is home to the famous roaring sands of the Kalahari (given the right conditions they rumble if disturbed, in a distinctly supernatural fashion). Witsand’s white dunes stand rise between twenty to sixty metres and are surrounded by the equally beautiful copper-red sand of the Kalahari and the Langberg Mountains.
It is one of the sandboarding destinations in the country (rent your board at reception), and on a clear day one can even see Table Mountain from the top of dunes.
Dive for crayfish at Port Nolloth or Hondeklip Bay:
Spend a morning on a traditional rowing crayfishing boat with the local fishermen. This part of an almost untouched coastline is incredibly beautiful. Some of the best crayfish diving spots are pretty remote and aside from diving gear and a boat, you’ll also need a few diving partners.Special licences can be bought in Garies or Springbok ahead of time. Bon apetite!
Contact Port Nolloth Backpackers on +27 (0)79 866-9960.
Paraglide in De Aar:
This exciting hybrid of hanggliding and parachuting leaves you suspended and flying free as a bird once launched out of an aeroplane, or from a mountain launch (the choice is yours, by all accounts). Sitting on little more than a harness and air, this is regarded as one of the purest forms of free flight. De Aar, south east of Prieska and south west of the Gariep Dam, has its very own paragliding school that attracts hanggliders and paragliders from all over the country and indeed the world.
Contact: Fly De Aar on +27 (0)53 631-1555.
For more adventure options in the Northern Cape see the following:
Find a Place to Stay
And don’t forget to book accommodation – for best rates and no-service fee bookings see Northern Cape Accommodation.
For more ideas of activities in the Northern cape see our growing selection of Things to Do in Northern Cape and browse through our Northern Cape Attractions pages. You are sure to find plenty to keep you busy whilst on holiday in the Northern Cape.