With only a million people inhabiting its 373,000 sq km, the Northern Cape is South Africa’s last great frontier. Its scattered towns are hundreds of kilometres apart, connected by empty roads across the sublime, surreal wilderness expanses of Namakwa, the Kalahari and Upper Karoo. Under the remorseless sun, vehicles share park roads with lions, dune boards swish down roaring sands, and Kimberley’s pubs serve cold beer as they have since the 19th-century diamond rush.
It’s a raw, elemental land, where gnarly camel thorn, quiver and Halfmens trees break the boundless horizons. Yet some of nature’s greatest tricks here are instances of rejuvenating beauty. The Gariep (Orange) River waters the dry region, creating the Green Kalahari with its vineyards and epic Augrabies Falls. Following the rains, red Kalahari sands shimmer with grasses, and Namakwa’s spring blooming carpets rocky hills and plains with wildflowers.