Back roads, big open spaces, and a night sky that’s just breathtaking—these are some of the iconic images that make up the Northern Cape
written by Marbee Shing-Go
an exclusive partnership with the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism special thanks to Drinie Samson, Johann Van Schalkwyk, Victor Marumo, and Kuberin Packirisamy of Northern Cape Tourism Office, and Ellen Vega of South African Embassy in Manila
Everyone dreams of visiting Africa.
Images of its larger-than-life landscape and animals roaming in the wild have made its way into many a bucket list—and for good reason. Widely regarded as the cradle of civilization, Africa is, to many, the place where human life originated, the land of our ancestors. And so to make a journey to the continent would be in some ways like journeying back home.
Yes, everyone dreams of visiting Africa, and South Africa, in particular, has enjoyed a healthy tourist population over the years. But while most tourists head to Cape Town or Johannesburg, a trip to the Northern Cape is really the journey that everyone is looking for.
Billed as South Africa’s largest province but with the smallest human population, the Northern Cape is miles and miles of open spaces and home to the great Kalahari Desert. Here you will find a considerable number of public and private nature and wildlife reserves, considered among the best in the country for game viewing and nature conservation. It is here as well where you can come across the San (or Bushmen), South Africa’s indigenous people of hunters and gatherers whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, and parts of southern Angola.
So while cities like Cape Town capture the bulk of visitors these days, it’s a trip to the Northern Cape that captivates, providing an experience that enthralls all the senses and engages the traveler in an adventure that takes the best South Africa has to offer—exotic wildlife, astonishing landscape, good food, warm people—and places it in full display. Life-changing is a pronouncement used all too often by too many people who travel but on a trip to the Northern Cape, you’ll find that there may probably be no better sentiment to count as truth.
ArisGo-8769Trailing through the Kalahari in a 4x4 vehicle / photo by Aristotle Go
ArisGo-8640Honeyboy, a member of the Bushmen or Saan tribe shares how their art is crafted into accessory and jewelry pieces / photo by Aristotle Go
IMG_1668A herd of springboks crossing the road to the watering hole. Winter is one of the best seasons to spot animals / photo by Aristotle Go
FullSizeRenderThe terrace of Tarkuni, the biggest lodge at Tswalu Kalahari, where we spotted a warthog drinking at the watering hole less than 20 meters away. Among Tarkuni’s famous visitors are Hollywood celebrities Drew Barrymore, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, singer Rod Stewart and most recently, Julianne Moore / photo by Erron Ocampo
11289657_10207024450789522_1441006873_nGame meat topped with t-nabba. Described locally as manna from heaven, t-nabba is the Kalahari desert-grown truf e. Though less fragrant than the prized truffle mushrooms from France and Italy, the t-nabba truffles are a delicious accompaniment to local game meat such as this dish. / photo by Erron Ocampo
IMG_8046-2A leopard cub enjoying his dinner / photo by Aristotle Go
FullSizeRender_1A pack of lionesses and lion cubs basking under the late morning sun after a hunt / photo by Erron Ocampo
ArisGo-8819-3Safari game drives are year-long depending on what you want to see. Animals are more visible in the winter as there is less vegetation and they gather to the watering hole more often. However, summer is when the bird species are aplenty / photo by Aristotle Go
On letting go of control
In Africa, particularly on game drives, patience is key. The patient passenger can journey for miles and not see anything until suddenly a family of leopards runs past them. It’s a somewhat scary—but also exhilarating—thing to realize that in this land, man may make plans but Mother Nature is always in charge.
On the landscape
“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote. Faced with such a stunning scene set against an endless horizon that stretches away into the unknown, it’s easy to share in Hemingway’s sentiment.
On the colors of africa
Red, brown, and golden with patches of green and a big blue sky—the Northern Cape is stunning. Here the land is stark and vibrant, with everything coming clearly into focus. After Africa, you’ll never look at a sunrise the same way again.