This peaceful town of 50,000 inhabitants, founded in 1884, is certainly not the place to come if you're looking for a relaxing holiday by the sea! It does have an airport though, which is particularly handy for getting to the reserves in this part of South Africa if you're coming from Cape Town or Johannesburg, for example, and in particular makes it easier to get from the reserves of the Augrabies Falls National Park to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The closest reserve is that of Spitskop, some 9 mi to the north, where you'll primarily find zebras, antilopes and gemsboks.
Despite its arid climate, Upington has a river running through it, the Orange River, which enables it to maintain its beautiful palm trees along Date Palm Avenue, a road which was declared a national monument in 1982. Not far from here you will also find many vineyards stretching along the desert border - you just have to sample the goods produced here before you leave, it's obligatory! A wide variety of crops, including cotton, wheat and various fruits are also to be found on the outskirts of Upington. As for shopping, the town has a good number of shops, supermarkets and all kinds of other stores.
Upington is the main town in the Northern Cape, the region located to the south of the Orange River, where the landscape consists primarily of desert and semi-desert, with rocky mounds dotted across its vast arid plains. Its western border meets the Atlantic Ocean, and whilst this province is the least populated in South Africa, it is also the largest.
If you're looking for a good restaurant, book a table at 'The Must'. The food here is very good, particularly the springbok (or gazelle) carpaccio and the risotto is as creamy as any you would find in Italy.
As is the case with many of the regions of South Africa, you'll find many vineyards in the area and it would be a shame not to stop off for a quick tasting session. Always in moderation, of course!
Located an hour and a half's drive from Upington (75 mi), Augrabies Falls National Park boasts some spectacular falls which make it well worth a visit, particularly as it is also home to the endangered black rhino.
The Kalahari Oranje Museum Complex: these little white buildings are the very root of the town, and this complex will give you an introduction to the local history, which was notably marred by the construction of concentration camps designed by the British.
A quick tour of the Namaqualand region, best visited during the South African springtime, when it becomes a magnificent carpet of flowers following the showers in August.
If you have planned a safari, be aware that you will need to be up early, as when the temperatures are at their peak during the daytime most of the animals will be hidden away in the shade, asleep. Morning safaris therefore start before sunrise to enable visitors to see as many animals as possible, so it's a good idea to bring some warmer clothing for the morning and evening as the temperatures can drop significantly, particularly when you're riding round in an open-top vehicle.
If you are planning on making any long journey's, don't forget to take plenty of water with you as the temperatures here can rise very quickly and it would be silly not to take drinks with you given the lack of roadside shops. It is also worth keeping a regular eye on your petrol tank for the same reason!
The South African cuisine is quite simply delicious. In the northern provinces, where Upington happens to be, corn-based dishes are a big part of the staple diet. As for the meat, which notably includes kudu, impala and nyala, it is of very high quality and ostrich steak is also very popular.
Shopping enthusiasts will be interested to know that there is a large shopping area nearby where you will find all sorts of shops, from handicraft shops and clothes shops to supermarkets and pharmacies, although the prices are not very reasonable.