Orange River, Northern Cape

Orange River, Northern Cape

Photo by paffy (wikimedia commons)

Getting off the Beaten Track

Photo by Damien du Toit (coda) (Flickr Creative Commons)Doorn River Waterfall, Northern Cape Photo by Damien du Toit (coda) (Flickr Creative Commons)

A motorhome rental or campervan hire is a great way to experience some of South Africa’s fantastic undiscovered areas.  Here are just three of the areas you can visit if you like to get off the beaten tourist track and see what the ‘real’ South Africa is like.

Northern Cape Province
This is an area of wide-open space, Black maned lions and some beautiful flowers, as well as the Diamond Coast, which follows as a separate area.

What to see
The Northern Cape is a vast arid area south of the Orange River and bordering on the freezing Atlantic Ocean.  It may be arid most of the year, but if you visit during August and September you will be greeted by a beautiful carpet of flowers, great for photo opportunities.

Visit one of the largest conservation areas in Southern Africa, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.  The 2 million hectare park is where you can see black maned lions and where you can spend the night under a clear starry sky after watching an amazing sunset.

For another unusual experience visit the Richtersveld National Park in Namaqualand.  The area is very stark and home to the sheep and goat herders known as the Nama people.  This is truly off the beaten track.

Diamond Coast
Set in the province of the Northern Cape, the Diamond Coast is virtually undiscovered by tourists, both foreign and local.  In the past, this was the area that drew the diamond hunters to make their fortune, today it’s an area that you can explore on foot as well as search for a few gems for yourself.  The Diamond coast winds its way along the most northwesterly part of the country and borders Namibia, and area known as the Namakwaland's Richtersveld.

What to see
See the shipwrecks of mariners who met their death in the icy waters.  
Diamond mines, still in operation.  Visit Port Nolloth where you can go on a tour where you can see diamonds being sucked up from the ocean floor, don’t bother trying to go for a swim later, remember the mariners they died form exposure in the icy water!  The waters may be too cold for swimming but they’re good for bird watching

Alfred Nzo Region
Covering less than 8 000 square kilometres, this is the smallest region in the Eastern Cape.  The infrastructure here is not as good as the surrounding areas and that’s why this place has remained unspoilt and rural.  It’s a high altitude mountains region, so expect some rainfall or even snow at times.

What to see
Visit the Mountain Lake Nature Reserve at Matatiele with its wetlands, streams, and rock art, if you enjoy canoeing or fishing there are some great places to relax here.

These areas are ideal for those with a motorhome rental or campervan hire because the facilities are not as extensive as other parts of the country.  This means as long as you have provisions, you can relax and enjoy your surroundings without having to find a hotel for the night.

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