The Orange River Wine Route: Explore the Green Kalahari in South Africa

The Orange River Wine Route
Explore the Green Kalahari in South Africa

In the middle of a semi-desert area in the Northern Cape region of South Africa, the so-called Green Kalahari stretches improbably on either side of the Orange River, or Orange-Senqu River -- a wine route that has become a favourite of tourists and locals alike. Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas, Groblershoop and Grootdrink are the towns you'll find stretched along the river.

Larger than Germany, the Northern Cape is the most sparsely populated region of South Africa, and includes a variety of landscapes and environments from savannahs to semi-arid areas of red sand dunes to the green valley of the Orange River.

How to Get Here:
The N8 will get you as far as Upington. From there you can make a base camp, or keep driving till you hit the N10 at Groblershoop. Continuing northwest along the west bank of the river, you'll soon reach the N14. Vineyards extend about 300km on either side of the river. You can cover the whole route in about two days with frequent stops along the way -- Keimoes, Kakamas and Upington on one day, and Groblershoop and Grootdrink on another.

The Wines
The Orange River creates the slightly cooler micro-climate where vinyards thrive, and the region is known for its quality grapes, including sultana, columbard, chenin, and hanepoort varieties. The majority of wines produced here are white, including semi-sweet wines, dessert wines, and blended varieties, with a small amount of reds too.

About 850 farmers in the area supply grapes to the five Orange River Cellars, a co-op that was founded in 1965. There are cellars in Upingtnon, Kakamas, Keimoes, Grootdrink, and Groblershoop. Together, they produce about 30 different wines.

You can visit the five Orange River Cellars for wine tastings and tours. Cellar tours are free and are offered Mondays to Fridays and Saturday mornings during the harvest season from January to March. The cellars are open year round for wine tastings, which cost R10 for five wines and R20 for 10 wines.

You'll also find small, private wineries and vineyards, many that offer B&B accommodations, restaurants, and other amenities.

Orange River Cellars – 054 337 8800 /
Bezalel Wine & Brandy Estate – 054 491 1325 /
Die Mas – 054 431 0245 / 082 931 5902 /
Douglas Wine Cellar – 053 298 8315

Other Attractions in/near the Green Kalahari:
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, or Kalahari Gemsbok National Park is Africa’s first transfrontier park, straddling Botswana and South Africa at the border with Namibia. It covers almost 3.7 million hectares of largely arid land, including red sand dunes and dry riverbeds. It is an important sanctuary for gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, eland, lion, leopard, cheetah and smaller game. Camping is available in the park. RESERVATIONS +27 12 428 9111

The Augrabies Falls National Park, where the Orange River begins with a 56m drop of rushing waters down a series of granite cataracts. Augrabies Falls National Park – 012 428 9111 /

If you like an active vacation, you'll enjoy adventure sports like white water rafting, parasailing on the many pans in the region, micro light glides above the undulating red dunes and jagged mountains of Riemvasmaak and the Mier Kalahari with its 35 to 40 meters high sand dunes. For the less adventurous traveller there is an abundance of hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, bird watching, game drives in the national and many exquisite private game reserves, camping and fly-in safaris.

Belurana River Boutique Hotel
Stay in a gracious 4-star boutique hotel on the banks of the Orange River. Rooms are spacious and feature elegant decor. There's a private patio overlookign the river, and an Olympic sized swimming pool on the landscaped grounds. Amenities include free Wifi, breakfast, and dinners available with 24 hours notice.

2 Brug Street | Die Dorp, Upington 8801, South Africa
Phone: +27 (0) 54 332 4323
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 925 3029
Address: 2 Brug Street, Upington