The Northern Cape offers some the best wildlife photography and outdoor photographic opportunities that South Africa has to offer. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the best known of these, but there are also many other excellent photodestinations. Twelve of our top photodestinations are highlighted here.
1. Nieuwoudville and Surrounds:
During spring, the veld surrounding Nieuwoudville puts on incredible displays of flowers and the area is well known as the bulb capital of the world. In addition to spring flowers, vast Quiver Tree forests can be found on the northern outskirts of the town and provide excellent landscape photographic opportunities.
2. Goegap Nature Reserve:
Goegap Nature Reserve comprises open plains and numerous boulder-strewn hillsides. During spring a wide diversity of flowering plants may be found after good rains and these form vast carpets of colour, where herds of Gemsbok, Springbok and Haartmans Mountain Zebra also feed. Good opportunities exist to photograph the endemic Dassie Rat amongst the boulders of the small garden opposite the reception area.
3. Richtersveld National Park:
Apart from dramatic arid landscapes, the Richtersveld National Park is home to giant Quiver Trees, the strange looking Half-mens tree as well as numerous other succulent plants. The endemic Barlow’s Lark may also be found and photographed here.
4. Augrabies Falls National Park:
The Augrabies Falls National Park is the best known section of the Orange River where it tumbles over a narrow gorge and continues downstream through breath-taking arid landscapes. Some of the most colourful and interesting inhabitants of the Park are the Augrabies Flat Lizards that feed on the countless Black Flies that are found close to the falls themselves. The male lizards in particular, leap and chase after these small flies and much patience is needed to get good photographs of them in the air.
5. Benfontein Nature Reserve:
Benfontein Nature Reserve is big-sky country with wide-open grasslands and camel-thorn woodlands that are home to a wide diversity of birdlife and wildlife. Black-Footed Cat and Aardwolf are regularly sighted here and there are over 40 colonies of Sociable Weavers that have built their massive nests in the camel-thorn trees.
6. Mokala National Park:
Home to numerous rare antelope, including Sable and Roan, Mokala National Park lies at a transitional zone between the grasslands, the Kalahari and the Karoo. This variety of habitats provides excellent birding opportunities and during the summer month’s dramatic thunderstorms provide excellent landscape photographic prospects. Numerous rare species are bred on this reserve.
7. Dronfield Nature Reserve:
Situated just to the north of the city of Kimberly, Dronfield Nature Reserve lies within the Kalahari thornveld with its deep red sands. It is home to breeding White-backed Vultures that also come down to feed at the specially constructed vulture hide. 50 000 Lesser Flamingoes may also be viewed at the nearby Kamfers Dam.
8. Rooipoort Nature Reserve:
With over 4600 petroglyphs and the historical “shooting box” building, Rooipoort Nature Reserve is one of the countries oldest conservation areas, having been proclaimed in 1893. The reserve fronts 32kms of the Orange River and has 14 species of antelope including the Black Wildebeest within its borders.
9. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park:
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is well known for its spectacular predator sightings and for its crisp clean light that is a major draw-card to photographers. Excellent birding may also be had, with summer months hosting thousands of raptors during years of good rainfall.
10. Witsands Nature Reserve:
Witsands Nature Reserve is one of those little known gems that hosts incredible opportunities for photography. There are the 26-meter high white sand dunes from which the reserve obtains it name and which are surrounded by the red Kalahari sands. Over 170 bird species have been recorded and wildlife includes Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Aardwolf and Aardvark. The reserve was proclaimed in 1994 and is approximately 3500 hectares in size.
11. Northern Cape Coastline:
The cold, nutrient rich waters of the Benguela current pound against the coastline of the Northern Cape and provide a wide diversity of seascape photographic opportunities. Small fishing harbours and diamond mining concessions can also be found along this diverse coastline.
12. Namaqua National Park:
Probably best known for its impressive displays of spring flowers, the Namaqua National Park also offers excellent opportunities for coastal photography with a Cape Fur Seal colony occurring in the north and with spring flowers growing right down to the coastline. The endemic Heaviside’s Dolphin is also regularly seen feeding within the sheltered bays.