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A gem in the Northern Cape

As a child, I grew up with a love for the town of Upington in the Northern Cape of South Africa (Nama – Khara Hais). Many warm summer school holidays were spent here on the banks of the Orange River.  If you love extremely hot summer days, I can recommend Upington as the place for you.  Here in Upington, you explore early morning and late afternoon and in the middle of the day, you take a siesta.  This beautiful town and region along the Orange River is countryside at its best.

Upington is bound by the Orange River and the Kalahari Desert.  And this is what makes it unique.  In my opinion, you would never mention or even think of the word “Desert” when walking among the vineyards and lush green surroundings.   

Upington 2

The green belt of mostly vineyards, on either side of the river, is almost like a green ribbon following the water gently flowing along.  You can almost say it is a green oasis in the middle of…well, almost nowhere.  And I say “almost” as the region has quite a lot to offer:  Things to do, places to see and things to taste… 🙂


The Kalahari-Oranje Museum

Founded in 1873 the town is rich with history and the Kalahari-Oranje Museum is a nice place to stop and learn more about the town.  Items relating to the history of Upington and the Lower Orange River are on display here.  The buildings were built by Reverend Schroder in 1875 as a church and mission station. 

When driving through town you simply cannot miss this museum, with its life-sized statue of the donkey.  This sculpture is a tribute to and acknowledges the unselfish and enormous contribution made by the donkey in developing the Lower Orange River Valley during the pioneer days of the 19th century.

Famous for

Foremost Upington is famous for its wines produced by the Orange River Cellars.  The export wines originate from six depots all on the banks of the Orange River. This includes Kanoneiland, Kakamas, Keimoes, Groblershoop and Grootdrink.


Of course, the town is also known for its export-quality raisins and grapes.  In my opinion, there is no place in the world with better-tasting watermelons and summer sweet melons.  You just have to come and taste it for yourself.


Tourist Attractions and Accommodation

Augrabies Falls National Park

Another tourist attraction I can recommend is the world-famous Augrabies Waterfalls.  Arguably the greatest of South African waterfalls, this is a spectacular sight.  The Khoi people called it “Aukoerebis” which means “place of Great Noise”.   Due to the very powerful flow of water which is unleashed from rocky surroundings down the 18 km Orange River Gorge.  Should you ever think of exploring the Augrabies Falls National Park area and going on a holiday in this region, do read our article on ‘All you need to know about the Augrabies Falls‘ in Upington.  There are tips and tricks to make your holiday loads of fun and easy to arrange on your own.

The famous Date Palm avenue

Be sure to include a drive along the 1000 m date palm avenue, as the entrance to the “Die Eiland Holiday Resort”, with more than 200 date palm trees

Things to do and around Upington:

  • Visit the Augrabies Falls National Park – And do the hiking trails
  • Riemvasmaak – Community Conservancy
  • The Red Dune Route
  • The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
  • The Orange River Wine Cellars – Wine Tasting
  • Sundown river cruise – Sakkie se Arkie
  • Explore Kanon Eiland
  • Go to Bezalel Wine and Brandy Estate
  • Explore Keimoes and Kakamas
  • Canoeing on the mighty Orange River
  • Enjoy the Upington Golf Course just outside of Upington on the N14 road to Johannesburg and Olifantshoek, next to Desert Palace Casino
  • Witsand Nature Reserve:  Home to the famous “Brulsand“.  The dunes actually emit weird roaring sounds when disturbed by man or wind.  The best time to visit Witsand is in the months from September to April.  During this time the dunes emit sounds because of the hot and dry conditions.  (A 2-hour drive on the N14 from Upington.)
  • A famous landmark halfway between Pofadder and Upington is the “Pink Padstal” (“Afrikaans for Pink Roadside stall).  It is a popular stop to take photos and rest for a while.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Upington South Africa

In conclusion:  With names like  Verneukpan, Boegoeberg Dam, Boesmansgat, Tierberg, and Spitskop nature reserves, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Kokerboom Forest, Riemvasmaak, and many more, the Northern Cape is the perfect road trip province for the nature- and history-loving traveler.

You have the option of flying to Upington.  Easily book flights to Upington Airport (UTN) from our links given here: 

From Cape Town you will fly to Johannesburg and then from there to Upington.  If you’re coming from Cape Town, you might consider rather doing a self-drive experience and explore all the beauty of the Western and Northern Cape along the way. 

From Johannesburg O R Thambo Airport (JNB) you can fly direct to and from Upington.  However the self-drive option is really also very nice if you have the time to do some road-tripping.

From Upington you can also get a direct flight to Cape Town International Airport (CPT).

Search and compare the available flight options:  Book your flight

You have the option of taking one of Intercape’s luxury (Sleepliner and Mainliner) busses, which travels to all major South African cities.

Where to stay

Accommodation options are wonderful.  From Hotels and Lodges to B&B and self-catering.  I believe nothing beats a stay in a cottage or a boutique hotel room right on the banks of the mighty Orange River.