Upington is an oasis surrounded by the harsh Kalahari landscape; a fertile place that offers travellers a peaceful and pleasant stopover. It is located on the Kokerboom Food and Wine Route, which is typified by its fantastic accommodation and cuisine options.
Upington is surrounded by vast red-orange sand plains and semi-desert, and through it runs the lush Orange River valley. More than ten percent of South Africa’s vineyards, or 23.5 million vines, are cultivated along the lower Orange River. Upington can best be described as a Kalahari Town and an ‘emerald oasis’ on the banks of South Africa's biggest River.
Upington’s history dates back to the 19th century when a Hottentot chieftain called Klaas Lucas, realising the value of being able to read and write, and knowing that the missionaries could help his people acquire these skills, appealed for the establishment of a mission station at Olyfenhoutsdrift in 1870.
The Reverend Christiaan Schröder was sent up from Cape Town, and permission to establish the Olyfenhoudsdrift Mission was secured from Klaas Pofadder, who claimed ownership of the area. The foundations of the town were laid in 1873 and building followed. Pioneer settlers such as Japie Lutz and the Reverend Schröder were quick to realise the irrigation possibilities along the Orange River. They hand dug the first irrigation canals in 1880 and some of them are still in use today.
Since then, the once small mission station has grown rapidly and become the commercial, agricultural and educational center of the Gordonia district, today known as Upington. The district was named after Sir Gordon Sprigg, a former prime minister of the Cape Colony.
Upington is not only the gateway to the main attractions of the Kalahari region, but also has its own gems that make it more of a destination than a stopover. One can see and experience:
The Date Palm Avenue at the entrance to the Eiland Resort; bird cruises on the Orange River, adventures and activities in the near surroundings, and beautiful old churches and historic buildings.
Two of the major attractions of the Green Kalahari are the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Augrabies Falls National Park. Lying 268km to the North of Upington is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – one of the world’s largest conservation areas, occupying 3.7 million hectares in total, and Africa's first trans-frontier park. The word ‘Kgalagadi’ means "land of thirst”, and was coined by merging the Kalahari Parks in South Africa and Botswana.
Upington is the Northern Cape’s most beloved holiday town and stopover en route to other scenic destinations in the area. Upington accommodation options range from quaint guest houses and comfortable bed and breakfasts to camping and caravan spots.