As the commercial and educational centre of the Green Kalahari, Upington is much larger than any of the surrounding villages. Bordered by the Kalahari Desert and the Orange River, the town owes its agricultural prosperity to irrigation. The town grew out of the unification of the Olyfenhoutsdrift Mission Station and the Upington police station in 1871 and was named after the First Attorney-General of the Cape, Sir Thomas Upington. The town is linked by air, rail and road to most parts of the country. Upington is a convenient stop-over for those travelling on the Kalahari-Namaqua-Namibia (Namakwari) Route to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town. The town has excellent accommodation facilities, restaurants and shops.
Adventure and Sport
Hunting: Contact the Northern Cape Hunters’ Association for more information.
Boating, fishing and waterskiing: These activities can be enjoyed at various venues in the area.
Golf: Golfing enthusiasts will enjoy the 18-hole golf course.
Orange River Wine Cellars: Orange River Wine Cellars is a five-cellar cooperative. It is the largest in the country and the second largest in the world. It offers wine-tasting tours and tours of the facility.
South African Dried Fruit Cooperative: This modern cooperative is the second largest of its kind in the world. Freshly packed dried fruit can be bought on the premises. Tours are offered in the mornings only.
Entertainment and Shopping
Die Eiland (“The Island”): Two rows of date palms mark the entrance to this popular holiday resort where the whole family will find something to do.
Kalahari Kuierfees: Every year, this festival brings thousands of visitors to attempt the triathlon, to shop at the flea market and to enjoy the entertainment.
Fauna and Flora
Date Palm Avenue: Two rows of more than 200 date palm trees line the entrance of Die Eiland Holiday Resort. The palms were planted in 1935 by the Department of Lands. The 1 041-m avenue is one of the longest and densest palm avenues in the Southern Hemisphere.
Spitskop Nature Reserve: 13 km north of Upington, this reserve is home to such animal species as zebras, eland, hartebees, as well as to ostriches and many others.
History and Architecture
Camel and Rider Statue: The statue in front of the police station honours the police who patrolled the desert territory in bygone years.
Dutch Reformed Church: The church building was completed in 1919.
Grave of Scotty Smith: This is the last resting place of the legendary outlaw who made the Northern Cape his hide-out. He died a rather unexciting death during the 1918 flu epidemic and is buried in the local cemetery. His real name was George St Leger Gordon Lennox.
Hortentia Windmill: The mill was built in 1879 and can be seen from the bridge on the Groblershoop road.
Roman Catholic Church: This national monument, situated in Le Roux Street, was built in 1861 and renovated in 1947.
Kalahari Oranje Museum: The building was built in 1875 as a church and mission station. The exhibitions in the museum reflect the history of Upington and the lower Orange River. In front of the museum a sculpture of a donkey working at a mill, pays tribute to this ‘beast of burden’ that has contributed so much to the development of this town (and other towns).
Semi-precious stones: The national treasures of the area (stones such as beryl, amethyst, tourmaline, agate, rose quartz and jasper) can be seen at the Museum Office and in the foyer of the Oranje Hotel.