A patch of paradise transported from a faraway land and laid over a landscape of red dunes – that is the explanation that comes to mind when we look at the north and north-west of the Northern Cape, at the region known as the Green Kalahari.

The Green Kalahari is a region of dramatic contrasts, a land where stretched-out semi-desert dunes meet up with vineyards and farmlands. A flourishing green valley marks the path that the Orange River cuts through the Northern Cape where farmers and, in particular, winemakers have learnt to use every precious drop of water wisely. The most northerly section of the Northern Cape, bordering on both Botswana and Namibia, this region is full of surprises.

The Augrabies Falls National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (a combined conservation project between South Africa and Botswana), where thousands of animals have found sanctuary, are undoubtedly the two jewels of the region. Vast and remote, relatively few people ever explore this land and discover its less obvious attractions. The traditional Riemvasmaak community in the Mier area welcomes visitors. Travel by 4×4 to their remote home and soak your tired bones in the healing water of the hot springs.

The Roaring Sands at Witsand Nature Reserve have given rise to many tales. One legend comes from the San who say that it is the voices of their ancestors in the spirit world who are communicating with us. Scientists believe that it is merely the sound of smaller particles moving among larger sand particles – but who wants to accept this prosaic explanation?

This is a land that inspires tales of spirits and secrets, where lawbreakers hid out from the Colonial authorities, disappearing among the local tribes. This is where hunters find their peace on the trail of their prey and where farmers have learnt to squeeze every drop of water from the earth and to bring forth the nectar of the gods. The islands in the Orange River are places to live and build upon the legacy of the early settlers and the river is a source of life and laughter, as well as of adventure – the lifeblood of it all. This is also the region of strange place names, where people have spent hours trying to figure out where names such as Kakamas, Mier, Beeshoek and Keimoes come from – an intriguing, wonderful place with many secrets to unfold.