is situated on the banks of the Mighty Orange River, which is one of the largest rivers in South Africa. Upington is rich in culture and history. The town was established in 1870, and since 1880 the town as a result has expanded rapidly and is now the business, agricultural and educational center of the Gordonia district.
No place for the meek, it started out as a mission station, established by a Reverend Christiaan Schroder. A church was built in 1875 and is today the Kalahari Oranje Museum, complete with all its period furnishings.
Upington was originally called Olyvenhoutsdrif (‘Olive wood drift’) due to the large number of olivewood trees in the area, as a result it was renamed Upington in 1898 after the Cape Colony’s attorney general at the time, Sir Thomas Upington.
Like Wild West towns, Upington had its share of skirmishes and its share of fortune-seeking scoundrels.
One of these was a man called George St Leger Gordon Lenox, alias ‘Scotty Smith’. An adventurer born in Scotland, he especially bought and sold illegal diamonds, stole horses and masterminded highway robberies. His gravestone is one of Upington’s tourist attractions.
Another noteworthy historic attraction is the spectacular Date Palm Avenue. Two rows of more than 200 date palm trees escort visitors over 1 000m to the entrance of Die Eiland Holiday Resort on the banks of the Orange River.
Agriculture forms a very important part of the local economy and large volumes of produce are exported to Europe as a result many companies have also established their head offices in Upington.
Upington is best known for its export-quality grapes, raisins and wines, which are cultivated on the rich flood plains of the Orange River.
Upington’s most famous wines are produced by an organization generally known as Orange River Cellars. The company has six warehouses in the area (all of them on the banks of the Orange River) at Upington, Kanoneiland, Grootdrink, Kakamas, Keimoes and Groblershoop. The wines from ORC are exported, inter alia, to Europe and the USA.
There is a wide range of businesses in Upington, where one is able to purchase most, if not all, of ones requirements.
All of the main roads and streets are tarred and furthermore Upington is linked to all major South African cities by air, rail and road.
The airport has the longest tarred runway in the southern hemisphere measuring 4 900 m. There are three other runways with 6 landing directions, making it very convenient for visitor travels. Most of the banks are also able to assist with foreign exchange and travelers cheques.
Furthermore, the town offers complete medical and healthcare services provided by two hospitals and a number of clinics.
Excellent educational facilities are available with the Northern Cape Technicon being situated here, as well as various secondary, primary and preparatory schools. In addition the suburbs are incredibly picturesque with an array of tastes and styles in gardening and homes to be found.
In conclusion if you’re in Upington on a weekend, book a sunset cruise on Sakkie se Arkie the most noteworthy floating bar on the river that accommodates up to 20 people, therefore making it the perfect ending to a stay in this historic Wild West town.
The towns found in the Green Kalahari are:
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