Northern Cape DestinationsUpington, Green Kalahari
Upington is the chief city in the Northern Region of South Africa. This dry and hot area is characterised by desolate deserts and harsh landscapes. However, do not let that deter you.
Upington boasts a marvellous oasis: the fertile and lush Orange River valley which runs through it. This shimmering valley provides a green ribbon through the harsh landscapes bringing life-giving water from the distant highlands of Lesotho.
Upington was founded in 1884 and currently boasts a population of 72 198 inhabitants. It was named after Sir Thomas Upington, the Attorney-General of the Cape. It originated as a mission station established in 1875. The mission station now houses the town museum, known as the Kalahari Orange Museum. The museum is also the home of the famous donkey statue, which recognizes the enormous contribution that this animal made to the development of the region during the revolutionary days of the 19th Century.
In the 1870s this area was inhabited by Korannas under leadership of Klaas Lucas and of Klaas Pofadder. Back then these men were known as the river pirates living on the many small islands situated in the Orange River.
The Orange River is also a major source of relaxation and entertainment for travellers and locals alike. Its beauty and tranquillity attracts people from all over the country yearly. Upington also boasts many beautifully landscaped gardens, rose beds and large, graceful trees all situated in a genuine atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
Upington is an ideal winter holiday resort with all the modern conveniences on the major routes to Namibia and Kalahari, Augrabies, Fish River Canyon and Northern Cape Bound by the Orange River and the Kalahari. It is the closest large centre to the Augrabies Falls which is arguably the king of South African waterfalls. As the commercial and educational centre of the Green Kalahari, Upington is much larger than any of the surrounding villages. The town is linked by air, rail and road to most parts of the country. Upington is a convenient stopover for those travelling on the Kalahari-Namaqua-Namibia (Namakwari) Route to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town. The town has excellent accommodation facilities, restaurants and shops.
Upington is a favourite hotspot for thrilling activities such as hunting, boating, fishing, golfing as well as waterskiing. For all the wine connoisseurs, spend the day at The Orange River Wine Cellars. This is a five-cellar co-operative. It is the largest in the country and the second largest in the world. It offers fantastic wine-tasting tours and tours of the facility. The South African Dried Fruit Co-Operative is a rather modern co-operative and the second largest of its kind in the world. Freshly packed dried fruit can be bought on the premises.
Popular attractions in Upington include Die Eiland (“The Island”), Spitskop Nature Reserve, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahari Kuierfees, The Raisin Festival and the SA Dried Fruit Co annual triathlon.
Die Eiland is a Holiday Resort situated on an island in the middle of the Orange River. It boasts a gorgeous Date Palm entrance avenue of 1 041 metres of Palms planted 9m apart, which makes it one of the longest and the most dense palm avenues in the southern hemisphere. The Raisin Festival is great fun for all travellers and locals in the area. This festival boasts a colourful parade of floats, beauty competitions, craft building competitions, potjiekos, pancakes and plenty of fun for family and visitors. Other attractions include the Mission, built in 1873 as well as Parsonage, built in 1883, which are both now museums.
Upington’s central business district is a buzz with business activities. Its economy greatly relies on agriculture, tourism and the services industry. Its modern shops, excellent facilities and easy accessibility to popular hotspots make it the centre of this vast region. Upington boasts a fantastic transport system including an Airport. Upington Airport may be small, but it is by no means quiet. In fact, it does a brisk business in cargo including everything from live sheep and goats, to cars and mining equipment. Not to mention grapes! Approximately 1 million tons of grapes leave this beautiful town every year. This airport also boasts the longest runway in Africa at 4,900m (16,076ft).
Upington may seem arid and desolate, but it is in fact a bustling area boasting great beauty, fun and adventure. There is plenty to see, do and enjoy here.