Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

Ecotourism and sustainable tourism can expand a country’s tourism offerings and help contribute to the economy.

Sustainable tourism promotes tourism that has a low environmental impact, and explores ways of sustaining future employment and business opportunities through tourism. Ecotourism has been defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people”.

The results of this kind of responsible tourism can include protecting an environment, direct investment into infrastructure in areas that attract tourists, as well as financial contributions to conservation efforts in areas.

The Northern Cape, South Africa’s largest province, boasts magnificent landscapes, vineyards, sand dunes, waterfalls, and several public and privately owned game reserves. Tourism is a key role player in the promotion and preservation of the rich history of the towns and people of the province, and sustains the livelihoods of many locals.

Whether you are looking to explore and photograph some of the wildlife in the region, enjoy stargazing in Sutherland, or bike across the rugged plains of the Richtersveld, the Northern Cape is not short of amazing experiences for every traveller – experiences that can promote responsible tourism.

There are a number of environmentally friendly tourism options to choose from in the Northern Cape ...

Namaqua Coastal Region

The Namaqua Coastal Region is known for its flower season, which blooms in August and September after the winter rains, when carpets of wild flowers cover its usually dry plains. The region’s Namaqua National Park is a conservation area protected by South African National Parks and provides for a sense of peaceful and spiritual healing with its vast open plains and tranquillity.

It offers cultural heritage attractions, with rock art, caves, and archaeological sites within the park that can be explored for educational and research purposes. Guides with indigenous knowledge of the area are available for guided tours. The park also offers cycling and walking opportunities for visitors, ensuring a low environmental impact.

Certain areas of the park are currently being rehabilitated, and no driving is allowed on closed tracks or on the closed beach. This is part of a bigger plan to sustain some of the natural areas within the park.

Tankwa Karoo National Park

This national park is every eco-friendly traveller’s dream. Even though the park is still in a developmental and land consolidation phase, conservation efforts have made it possible for large game species such as mountain zebra, red hartebeest, gemsbok, eland and springbok to be reintroduced to the area. Visitors to the park can enjoy activities such as hiking and cycling, enjoy scenic views, or go game spotting on a self-drive.

Stargazing

The Northern Cape is South Africa’s least densely populated province. The resultant lack of air pollution from carbon emissions and the sparsity of lights make it the perfect stargazing destination. It is home to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), near Carnarvon, which is an “international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope”.

This global project draws scientists, researches and tourists who want to discover the stars and the Milky Way, and find answers to questions beyond our planet. This astro-tourism boom in the area has benefited the people of the region. So come along and explore the stars and galaxies on a clear night sky under the southern skies.

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(Image: Rogge Cloof)

Heritage sites and museums

Visit some of the heritage sites that play a part in the Northern Cape’s multifaceted appeal – such as the Wonderwerk Cave, which is of archaeological importance and an educational tool for tourists and researchers with a keen interest in geology. Today the cave offers indigenous people a place for their ritual practices, while a resource centre has been set up nearby the cave for interpretative and educational purposes.

Another attraction to visit is the Richtersveld World Heritage Site, where you will discover the history of the Nama people, who have lived in the area for 2 000 years and still practise their traditional way of life.

There are also plenty of museums and art galleries with detailed accounts of the history of the province. Visitors can explore shipwrecks on the Diamond Coast and learn more about the discovery and history of diamonds in Kimberly. Guided tours are often provided by locals, helping stimulate local economies.

Fly-fishing in the Northern Cape

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(Image: flybru)

Enjoy an exhilarating fly-fishing experience in the unspoiled landscapes of the Northern Cape. The Orange River, South Africa’s largest river, and the smaller Riet River both offer fishing enthusiasts the chance to wade the waters in search of smallmouth and largemouth yellowfish, which are renowned among fisherman in these waters.

Research argues that recreational fishing “can actively support important research through citizen science initiatives and fisheries management. In countries with public fishing rights, revenue from the sale of angling licences has supported conservation projects, while in countries with private fishing rights, angling clubs and associations are partially responsible by law to manage fish population and habitats.”

Explore the Orange River on a boat with a local guide, who will show you the best fishing spots. Visitors can expect to hear occasional sounds of fish eagles. Other species that can be found in these waters include mudfish, catfish and barbel.