As an inevitable focus of trips to Kgalagadi and Augrabies, as well as those to and from Namaqualand and Namibia, UPINGTON, just over 400km west of Kimberley, is a good place to stop for supplies, organize a park tour or onward accommodation, or simply draw breath. Situated on the banks of the Orange River, central Upington is compact and easy to get around, with most of the activity on the three main streets running parallel to the riverbank. It can be a mellow spot, with plenty of greenery softening the arid landscape that surrounds it – a result of the irrigation that allows Upington to be surrounded by vineyards. However, the savage summer temperatures mean you probably won’t want to linger.
Upington’s obvious highlight is the Orange River, but unless you’re staying at one of the riverside guesthouses, it tends to be hidden from view. The terrace behind the Irish Pub is a good place to admire the river and its swans. Better still, take a cruise with Sakkie se Arkie on its strange two-tier barge; it’s based on the riverbank at the east end of Park Street.
In late September, Die Eiland resort, across the river from Upington, plays host to the Kalahari Kuierfees (last Thursday to Saturday; kalahari-kuierfees.co.za). A chance for the local Afrikaner community to come together to celebrate their culture, language and food, the event combines flea markets and craft stalls with a triathlon, arts, live Afrikaner music and dance.