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Northern Cape
Northern Cape - TravelPuppy.com
This vast and desolate wilderness stretches from the west coast north to the Botswana and Namibian borders and east to the Free State and North West provinces. The South west features magnificent carpets of wild flowers in early spring, while the south is part of the Great Karoo and the north encroaches into the Kalahari Desert.

In 1866, a boy found a shiny ‘pebble’ at Hopetown, 128 kilometres (80 miles) south of Kimberley, allowing an ancient and lightly populated settlement to become the diamond capital of the world. Kimberley is not 1 of the world’s most thrilling places, however it does have enough attractions to justify a stop. The main attractions amongst them all include the Big Hole, which is the largest manmade excavation in the world, and the Kimberley Mine Museum, with its replicas of 19th century Kimberley at the height of the gold rush.

The De Beers Hall Museum houses a display of cut and uncut diamonds, here can be seen the famous ‘616’, at 616 carats, the largest uncut diamond in the world, and the ‘Eureka’ diamond, the 1st to be discovered in South Africa. Other fascinating museums include Duggan - Cronin Gallery (photography), the William Humphreys Art Gallery (fine art), and McGregor Museum (a fine old mansion, with Kimberley’s history displayed).

Near Kimberley is the Vaalbos National Park, a small reserve including the extremely rare Black Rhino, and the Bultfontein Mine, presenting guided tours of a working diamond mine. For those with a military intrerest, Magersfontein lies to the south of Kimberley, site of a disastrous defeat inflicted on the British by the Boers early in the Boer War.

North West of Kimberley, Kuruman was a missionary centre used by Robert Moffat and David Livingstone. It has a flowing spring known as the ‘Eye of God’ and is near the Wonderwerk Cave, an archaeological site of great significance where some of the earliest evidence of the use of fire has been found.

Uppington is an enjoyable town on the banks of the Orange River, on the way to the Augrabies National Park, centred on a series of dramatic waterfalls plummeting 56 metres (184 feet) into a narrow ravine carved through the desert. The park is home to several fascinating species of desert plants while local animals include vervet monkeys, baboons, rhino and antelope.

Further to the north is the vast Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is 1 of Africa’s 1st ‘peace parks’, administered jointly by South Africa and Botswana. It is the biggest nature conservation area in southern Africa and 1 of the largest unspoilt ecosystems in the world, supporting fauna and flora in mystifying variety. To the west, Namaqualand is a vast area of what appears to be barren semi desert, harbouring a treasure house of floral beauty, appearing after sufficient winter rains, lilies, daisies, aloes, perennial herbs and several other flower species. The flowers are best seen from July to September, varying on when the rains fall. Calvinia and Niewoudtville are beautiful locations for flowers.

In the far north, on the Namibian border, is the isolated and rocky Richtersveld National Park, accessible only by 4 wheel drive, with an wonderful lunar landscape and wide variety of rare desert plants.
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