Mention Upington and the mind conjures up visions of a desolate unbaked southern Kalahari desert town where man's existence is a daily struggle. But how wrong can one be.
Through this harsh landscape that surrounds Upington runs a glittering green ribbon - the fertile Orange River valley which brings life-giving water from the distant highlands of Lesotho to the town.
The town is centrally located on the Namaqua Route between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Namibia. As such road kilometer distances between Upington & the following town are:
Upington covers an area of 30 901 hectares of which 3 643 hectares is built up. Upington falls within the 53 546 sq km Gordonia District in the Northern Cape of South Africa.
Upington lies 805m above sea level.
Upington has mild to hot days all year round and minimal rainfall. Humidity is very low which makes those hot days all the more bearable. Skies are clear and unpolluted. Over the last five years, Upington recorded the following:
Approximately 60 000 people live in Upington.(find more info)
A Hottentot chieftain Klaas Lucas, realized the value of being able to read and write. He also knew that the missionaries could help his people to acquire these skills, so in 1870 he appealed for the establishment of a mission station at Olyfenhoutsdrift (Ford at the olivewood trees). The Reverend Christiaan was sent up from Cape town. Permission to establish the Olyfenhoudsdrift Mission was secured from Klaas Pofadder who claimed ownership of the area.
Consequently, building work began when foundations were laid in 1873. Pioneer settlers such as Japie Lutz and the Reverend Christiaan were quick to realize the irrigation possibilities along the Orange. They hand dug the first irrigation canals in 1880 and some of them are still in use today. Since then Upington grew rapidly and became the commercial, agricultural and educational center of the Gordonia district. The latter was named after sir Gordon Sprigg, a former prime minister of the Cape Colony.
The Mighty Kalahari
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park
SA Dried Fruit Co-operative
Situated on the road to Groblershoop. More than ten percent of South Africa's vineyards or 23,5 million vines are cultivated along the lower Orange River. Products are distributed to the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the Scandinavian Countries and Argentina. The factory covers an area of more than 2 ha and processes and packs all dried sultanas in the country.
Kalahari Oranje Museum
Built by the Reverend SchrÃ¶der in 1875 as a church and mission station. Domestic items dating from that era and articles relating to the history of Upington and the lower Orange River can be seen here. The museum is home to the life-sized monument of the donkey, sculptured in bronze by Hennie Potgieter.
Oranje Rivier Co-operative Wine Cellars
Situated in the industrial area. This five cellar co-operative is the second largest in the world. It presents the visitor with a unique range of natural and fortified wines. Wine tasting & tours are offered.
Named by the Khoi people, Augrabies, meaning "Place of great Noise". It is truly a spectacular sight to see the Orange River cascading 60m down in a mighty waterfall.
Skaapland Butchery Franchise
International specialists in the meat industry recognise Skaapland Butchery as one of the most modern butcheries in the world and equals German Technological standards. It is the first registered butchery franchise in South Africa and worth a visit !
Spitskop Nature Reserve
Only 13 km from Upington, it offers wonderful game viewing and bird watching.
Upington's economy relies heavily on agriculture, tourism and the service industry. There is also a lively informal sector present in the town. A number of companies like the Oranje Co-operative, Karakul & Livestock Co-operative (KLK) and Oranje Rivier Co-op Wine cellars have their head offices in Upington.