The Northern Cape, stretching across the vast plains of the Karoo, is a sparsely populated province still relatively unspoiled by man. The Karoo, meaning 'land of great thirst' in the Hottentot language, blazes in the summer heat yet its starkness and silence are breathtakingly beautiful.

Certain areas of the province, including Namaqualand, enjoy rainfall in the spring months resulting in explosive displays of bright, wild flowers from July to November. In the East summer thunderstorms roll across the skies, bringing flashes of lightning and booming across the plains before fading swiftly away.

Along the reviving waters of the Orange River, lush crops of cotton, Lucerne and dates abound and the town of Upington rests amongst vineyards of sultana grapes.

Perhaps the most famous town is the town of Kimberley. Here in the early 1800's the world's greatest diamond rush began when a child picked up a 21-carat stone. Historical buildings and museums abound in the town and the Kimberley Big Hole is the largest man-made hole on earth.

On the border of the Northern province and Botswana where the red dunes and scrub fade into infinity lies the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park. Herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons and camel thorn trees provide shade for huge black-mane lions and vantage points for leopards.Together with the adjacent Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, this park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares – one of few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world. The sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob provide excellent photographic opportunities and the park is also a favourite for birders interested in birds of prey.

Copyright to About South Africa 2003-2004. Photographs on this website courtesy of South Africa Tourism.