Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsKokerboom Food and Wine Route
Start: Upington via Keimoes, Kanoneiland, Kenhardt, Augrabies, Riemvasmaak and Marchand
Duration: how long is a piece of string? As long as you want it to take, depending on how often you stop
Vehicle: you can self-drive this route in an ordinary sedan
Our tip: stop off at Keimoes (just south west of Upington) Information Centre and chat to Maxi, who was instrumental in creating the route (the accompanying padstal supplies moerkoffie and traditional food)
Note: there is intermittent cell phone reception on the route, at best (great place to lose yourself!)
The Kokerboom, or quiver tree, is one of the most idiosyncratic trees of the Kalahari (South Africa and Namibia). Also known, in scientific circles, as the Aloe dichotoma, this succulent Aloe grows to tree-like proportions and is synonymous with the Northern Cape.
You can see throngs of quiver trees on the R359 between Kakamas and Keimoes, or at Koms Kokerboom Nursery.
The Open Africa Kokerboom wine and food route lies where the Kalahari and the Nama-Karoo deserts meet.
Named for the many (30 to 40 000 specimens)tree aloes along its course that manage to prosper where other trees wilt and wither in the average 40 degree days of summer, the self-drive route links Keimoes, Kanoneiland, Kenhardt, Augrabies, Upington and Marchand.
In amongst the little towns are a series of wine cellars, including the second largest wine co-operative in the world, dried fruit industries (sultanas, dates), nuts, Kalahari sushi (yes, really, at the Kalahari Gateway hotel in Kakamas), home-made cheeses (Vrouenspan), meat delicacies, skuinskoek (cakes that are a cross between mosbolletjies and doughnuts), brandy tasting and a list of outdoor activities that include 4x4 trips, hiking, bird watching and even donkey cart riding.
Other highlights include the Augrabies Falls, and community hot springs at Riemvasmaak (Riemvasmaak Ecotourism Project) and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Klipspringer and Gorge Walking trail at Augrabies Falls National Park, mountain biking trails, and historical sites and museums.
Numerous farm stalls (the Pienk Padstal, and Akkerboom) and restaurants give the opportunity to taste local food. And make sure you include the Koms Kokerboom nursery near Keimoes, where you can pick up a tree aloe for your garden.