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Parks & Wilderness Areas, Northern Cape


Parks & Wilderness Areas of South Africa

The nature of South Africa's conserved areas varies enormously. Many are rugged wilderness areas that are the preserve of hardy mountaineers. Others, particularly those around the dams and populated areas, are easily accessible to all.

There are wonderful botanical gardens and green corridors in the big cities. Some are playgrounds or places to sit with binoculars and watch the birds and the world go by. Most boast captivating landscapes and geological formations or host unique flora or fauna. Many are devoted to preserving rock art and other examples of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

It’s the big game parks that attract the most visitors. The Kruger National Park and KwaZulu-Natal reserves are perhaps the best known of this type, but there are numerous other reserves in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and Eastern Cape where you can see the Big 5.

Although game viewing is also popular in the Northern and Western Cape, the reserves in these provinces are as much about the spectacular scenery, open spaces, starry skies and extraordinary spring flower displays.

Many of the reserves are steeped in history. Historic battlefields are a feature of many of the reserves in KwaZulu-Natal. The province’s Drakensberg Mountains are a veritable outdoor gallery, home to the largest collection of bushman rock art in the world. There is also a high concentration of magnificent paintings in caves throughout the Cederberg Wilderness area. Sites like Mapungubwe National Park are as famous for their archaeological treasures as for their natural heritage.  So, whaterver your interests, there is bound to be something to suite your taste.

Articles & Blogs

50 Tips for a Memorable Visit to the Richtersveld

Valda 3:07pm 28 Oct

By George Brits

We recently spend three weeks in the Richtersveld. We have written about our general impressions. We have also posted a photo essay on each of the roads in the park to give prospective visitors an idea of what they are in for, as well as an article on our photographer's truck  setup...

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Richtersveld Photo Essay

Valda 5:58pm 16 Oct

By George Brits 

For the many of us who have not been to the Richtersveld yet, it can sound somewhat intimidating. There are no services for miles around; and one has to bring along all provisions, including drinking water. Most of the roads are only accessible by sturdy vehicles. The sign post at the start of Helskloof says ‘Bakkies / SUV recommended’, but there are many roads deeper into the park where it is much better to have a 4x4 . The section between De Hoop and Richtersveld is strictly 4x4 only. Still, it would be wrong to think it’s only for advanced 4x4 drivers. A good...

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Larger than Life

Valda 6:01pm 11 Sep

Words and pics Romi Boom

When you first approach the Tankwa Guesthouse Complex, your eyes will pop. Is it an optical illusion? Is it make-believe? A figment of your imagination?

The homestead is impressive by anyone’s reckoning. The fort-like structure, situated on the southern boundary of the park and a stone's throw from the Oudebaaskraal Dam, imposes itself on the landscape. In the heat of midsummer it must float like a mirage above the moonscape of the surroundings. 

It appears grandeur was synonymous with Oudebaaskraal. Until it was incorporated into the park in...

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Namaqua Summer Camp: 5 days, 50 km

Valda 4:00am 17 Feb

Words Kate Collins, pics Kate Collins, Nils Backeberg

We arrive in the Namaqua National Park with enough light to set up our campsite before a fiery sun sinks on the horizon. We’re at Delwerskamp along the 50km stretch of Groen-Spoeg coastline. There’s not another soul in sight. 

While boundless carpets of Namaqualand daisies stand out in bright orange on the drive to the park entrance, delicate succulents of all sorts can be seen closer to the coast. Ahead of us a navy sea stretches out as far as we can see, with only white foamy waves breaking the continuity. 

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After dark in Augrabies

Wild Card Magazine 5:55am 19 Aug

The Augrabies Falls National Park in the Northern Cape is not just a convenient stopover en route to the Kgalagadi or Namibia; the park is a destination in itself. On our recent trip we decided to book a night drive. This gave us the opportunity to see the park after dark in the company of guide Mario Titus. While you cannot guarantee sightings, it was very exciting to scan the veld in search of glowing eyes, noises and movements. We got lucky on our drive and spotted a number of antelope, an African wildcat and giraffe. It was interesting to see the giraffe lying down, as I had never seen...

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Still life

Valda 5:55am 2 Aug

Words by Magriet Kruger, pics by Alessandro Bonora

I arrive in Namaqua National Park before the winter rains, before the yearly spell is cast that conjures flowers out of thin air. Every year thousands of nature pilgrims make the trek to this remote corner of South Africa. They come to witness the spectacular wildflower display as brightly coloured daisies and flowering bulbs transform empty fields into wild gardens the envy of every horticulturalist. ...

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50 tips for a memorable visit to Kgalagadi

shane 9:06am 17 May

By Villiers Steyn

Gathered over 15 years of exploring Kgalagadi, these tips are the sort of advice you won’t find in a guide book. They’ll expose you to the best the South African side of the park has to offer and prepare you to make the most of the region’s extremes. Use an insider’s advice to make your next trip to the park as memorable as possible.

Making a booking for Kgalagadi

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Augrabies Falls National Park

Nightjar Travel 4:40pm 16 Dec

So, you think Augrabies is all about the waterfall. Well, maybe not. I personally find waterfalls quite boring. Just lots of water gushing over an edge. So? And this isn’t even an edge, its just a crack! 

But there are so many more reasons to visit this park. For starters, the landscape is multi variate in composition; shades of pastels in colouration and totally beguiling. If you can’t find at least one angle for a special landscape composition, you should think about donating your camera to somebody more deserving. 

And then there is the fauna. Who would have...

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Witsand Nature Reserve

Nightjar Travel 3:40pm 14 Dec

Nestled in a beautiful region that blends Karoo vegetation, and Kalahari dunes, this nature reserve is a kiddie's playpen for photographers. "White sand" may feel like a misnomer, but after hours of driving through red kalahari sands, it really does feel like someone knocked over a bleach bottle! Just be very careful about walking around barefoot - the thorns here mean business (and so do the scorpions)!

We have some more images here.

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Northern Cape - Day 2

Nightjar Travel 11:40am 14 Dec

Witsand Nature Reserve is a smallish reserve that packs a lot of punch. There is enough beauty to please the casual drive-through visitor, and yet also sufficient complexity to keep the more demanding visitor engaged. It is one of the few places in the area where permanent water can be found and has consequently been inhabited from the earliest Stone Age times. 

The vegetation of the reserve is a complex convergence of three major vegetation types: Karroid Kalahari Bushveld, Kalahari Mountain Bushveld and Orange River Nama Karoo… and not nearly as boring as it sounds. One of the...

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shane 9:51am 7 Jun

To walk and camp in the wild is to discover the magic of the Kgalagadi.  Words and pictures by Kate Collins.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park has many attractions for those wanting to explore the wild side of the park. This I discovered when my friend Lucy Argent and I took on the !Xerry Wilderness Trail and the Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail.

The !Xerry Trail is a two-day walk that departs from Nossob and is your ticket to exploring the Kgalagadi on foot. Walks take place in the morning and...

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