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Overview

South Africa's dry and thinly populated western coastal belt offers some fine off-the-beaten-track travel, and can be explored over a two-week round trip out of Cape Town, or as an alternative route to Gauteng. It's prettiest in spring, when blankets of wildflowers transform the stony semi-desert of Namaqualand (between Garies and Springbok) into a spectacular sea of color. Worth visiting at any time, West Coast National Park is popular with anglers, walkers and birdwatchers, while the sleepy port of Lambert's Bay hosts a 10,000-strong colony of marine birds such as gannets and penguins, as well as being a haven for dolphins and ...

South Africa's dry and thinly populated western coastal belt offers some fine off-the-beaten-track travel, and can be explored over a two-week round trip out of Cape Town, or as an alternative route to Gauteng. It's prettiest in spring, when blankets of wildflowers transform the stony semi-desert of Namaqualand (between Garies and Springbok) into a spectacular sea of color. Worth visiting at any time, West Coast National Park is popular with anglers, walkers and birdwatchers, while the sleepy port of Lambert's Bay hosts a 10,000-strong colony of marine birds such as gannets and penguins, as well as being a haven for dolphins and seals. Northeast, the powerful Augrabies Falls on the Orange River (South Africa's largest) is the focal point of a small but scenic national park and of a booming whitewater rafting industry. Past Kakamas, the irrigated fields flanking the Orange are the site of the country's largest wine cooperative, whose wares can be sampled in Upington, the region's main town. Upington is the springboard for Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, where tall red dunes and acacia-lined watercourses support a surprising wealth of wildlife, notably lion, cheetah, bat-eared fox, oryx, springbok, eland and the endearing meerkat.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    August or September for wildflowers, game viewing in Kgalagadi good all year but can be very hot November-March.