Road Trip Northern Cape Day 1

Road Trip: Northern Cape, South Africa – Day 1

I fell in love with the Northern Cape when we lived there briefly between 2014 and 2015. My home might be Zimbabwe, but if you ask both my husband and I where we would choose to spend our golden years other than Zimbabwe, it will most definitely be in the Northern Cape. I  can’t even explain it exactly, it’s a feeling, an admiration for the unique beauty of a diverse and vast landscape. A respect for the quiet and gentle people who live there and a sense of being able to truly breathe in good clean fresh air. When the opportunity to take a road trip through the Northern Cape, I was there!

Road Trip!

Originally the plan was for my husband and I to go away together on his motorbike whilst my mom looked after the girls for us. Yes, we were taking advantage of the fact that we finally had someone to babysit for us. 99% of the time we have no support network to rely on so we planned on taking full advantage.

The day before we were to leave we were weighing up the pros and cons of our trip and I suggested that it would be far more comfortable and cooler to go in the car with the aircon than it would to go on the bike. The temperatures in the Northern Cape in late December are around 36C (officially, although it can feel like you’re overheating from the inside out!). This region is actually a part of the Kalahari Desert. Anyway, the idea grew from there until we decided to go in the air-conditioned car and to take my mom and the girls with us!

What Was The Plan?

We don’t like to plan! We like to have an idea and intended route, but we don’t generally like to plan too much. We’ve made plans before, and they don’t normally work out. Planning a route with pre-booked accommodation does definitely have its advantages, but we chafe at the confines of control so if we have the time and funds available we prefer to ‘wing it’ and head off with no pre-bookings defining our holiday.

So, in case, you missed that – no plan! Well, that’s not entirely true. We had two specific places we wanted to see and visit, one of which has been on my bucket list for nearly a year: Augrabies Falls. After that we wanted to go back to Van Zylsrus. We have lived in Kathu previously and had visited Van Zylsrus whilst we were there. We loved it so much and wanted to go again and to show my mom too who had never been to the Northern Cape.

If you do want to have a rough guide or plan for your trip, I would recommend a copy of Lonely Planet Southern Africa Travel Guide. This book has great tips and advice for the whole of South Africa, including the Northern Cape.

Preparing For A Road Trip

I wrote a post last week of the 10 essential tips for road tripping with kids! Let me tell you, that cooler box was full!!! We knew it was going to be hot and that we needed to stay hydrated so, other than our clothing, the cooler box was our second priority.

About a year ago we decided to invest in a Thule top box to fix to the top of our Toyota Fortuner. We bought the BIG box and although we have literally had to suspend it from the ceiling in the garage for storage, not having to haul a trailer with every time we go on a road trip is just awesome! We fitted the box to the top of the Fortuner, which took all of 5 minutes, and we were all good to go.

Day 1: Welkom to Augrabies Falls, and back to Uppington.

Day one of our road trip to the Northern Cape South Africa went something like this:

  • Departure Time: 06.30 am
  • Temperature: 18°C

We headed down the Bultfontein Road and after a few dirt roads we ended up in Kimberley at 09.00 am. It was 26°C. We stopped for a McDonalds, filled up, and then carried on with our journey.

We got to Uppington at about 13.30 and decided that we would find accommodation for the night before heading off to Augrabies Falls because once we were done there we would still have enough time and sufficient daylight to make it back to Uppington which would make our journey on Day 2 just that bit shorter. After finding a simple B&B, offloaded our clothing etc, we then headed off to Augrabies.

Khi Solar One Project

Just outside of Uppington we passed the Khi Solar One Project. If you haven’t heard about this amazing feat of human engineering, you really need to look it up. It’s basically a mirror farm, where hundreds of mirrors reflect the sun’s rays at a tower which collects the heat reflected from the mirrors and converts it into energy … solar power!

Please excuse my horrible photo, but I was in absolute awe of what I could see from the road! The light emanating from the tower, thousands of meters away was impressive! Such an awesome learning and teaching moment for us. I’m sure the girls won’t remember the name or any of the stats I threw at them as we drove past, but they will remember the light they saw. Africa could definitely do with more of these projects! Lots more!

Augrabies Falls

  • Arrival Time: 03.00pm.
  • Temperature: 42°C! Flippen hot!
  • Entrance Fee: Augrabies Falls National Park, part of SANParks was R192.00 for 3 adults and 2 children.

Augrabies Falls is the point where the mighty Orange River crashes down a granite rock gorge and continues on its natural course. The falls themselves are 240 meters deep and 18 kilometres long! It was worth the sweat and heat and short hike to get to them.

On leaving the falls, we practically sprinted to the car, retrieved multiple drinks and sat in the air-conditioned car, just trying to cool down! This was the alert on my phone when I tried to take a picture of the temperature displayed in the car – I mean, have you ever?

iPhone over-heats in the Northern Cape.
When it’s so hot, even your phone can’t even!

Other points to note: The amazing Quiver Trees. The local name is ‘Kokerboom’. Let’s just say that I will NEVER live down my English accent attempt at pronouncing that word to my husband! Enough said!

Quiver Tree Northern Cape
A Kokerboom / Quiver Tree in the Northern Cape, South Africa near Augrabies Falls.

That evening we ended up at Ocean Basket in the Kalahari Mall for dinner. I wasn’t feeling so great, I genuinely think it was the heat. I don’t cope so well in excessive heat, and it was excessive!

Total Distance on Day 1: 891 Kilometers!

Check back soon for Day 2 and 3.

Have you done this trip? What was your favourite part?

Note: All photos are the property of MomOfTwoLittleGirls Blog. They may not be copied or used without prior authorisation! 

You can check out the second half of our trip over at Road Trip: Northern Cape (Days 2 and 3)

Family road trip to through the Northern Cape, South Africa

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  1. Oh my, a little jealous of this road trip I’ll be honest. My definition of heaven and my hubby’s definition of hell ???. We did it years back as a kid but haven’t gone exploring in that area for ages !

  2. I love road trips. We also don’t do pre-booked accommodation, but we have some places (regulars) that we use at pit stops, so if it’s convenient, we just call those guest houses or friends. This is if we not trying out a new spot.

  3. As a family we haven’t done a road trip in some time. Reading your post makes me want to plan one for the July school holiday. Only thing is my girls hate driving for so long on end.Thanks for sharing.#Lekkerlinky

    1. Author

      We stop a lot. It’s not practical to just drive and drive with kids. They need to stretch their legs and have something to actually do and see. I think the key is to be fair to them and then they know that it’s not forever and they will get ‘let free’ at regular intervals.

  4. Oh my goodness at that temperature!! I would die!!!!!! I’m not really a road trip gal, but hubby is. lol. I’m all about air conditioners, hotels, cocktails and room service.


  5. We haven’t done this trip, but Shawn really wants to. I’m bookmarking your post so we can read it again once we start planning our trip. ?

    Yay for week 4 of the #LekkerLinky – can you believe our little idea is actually a real thing now? ?

  6. OMW Carly that’s extreme but so worth it. Such a beautiful part of our country and the Augrabies Falls has been on my bucket list for way to long. I do hope you’ve recovered from your heat attack #lekkerlinky

  7. Sheeez this sounds amazing and also… hellish! I would however LOVE to do this… we did something similar PE to Postmasberg. The heat. is. terrible! #lekkerlinky

  8. I’ve never been to the Northern Cape (embarrassing, I know) but that’s our dream for our family – to do roadtrips across the local landscapes. There are so many amazing places to see.

    1. Author

      I don’t think we will ever run out of new places to explore in South Africa. Every landscape is different and it’s again different in every season. I’m a definite road trip fan!

  9. I can’t wait for my girls to be a few years older so that we can do these types of trips. Now we are somewhat crippled by bottles, nappie changes and a deep seated dislike for car rides ? I’ll just have to live vicariously through your posts ?

    1. Author

      Awww … my girls have been doing long distance car rides for over 3 years now. Such is the joy of having family live in another country. Eventually they get over it and realise that it’s something they have to deal with. You just have to pray that your will to get where you want to go, is stronger than their will to cry the whole way there! lol

  10. Sounds like fun – or that the girls are getting older (Ava is 1.5 years) so we want to venture out a bit more with them on trips. But baby steps first ? #lekkerlinky

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