Sample best of Mother Nature

IF YOU want to get in touch with Mother Nature and experience pure relaxation, Northern Cape is beckoning with its breathtaking blue skies, verdant green fields and the sweet smell of fresh flowers.

In spite of all this, Northern Cape is the least visited province .

So it is fitting that September, Tourism Month, is focussed on this magnificent province. South African Tourism is drumming up support for domestic tourism through its Sho't Left campaign.

According to statistics released by the Department of Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal, particularly Durban, is the most visited . Gauteng is second and Western Cape third.

But none of these can match Northern Cape in attractions and activities and it is a mystery why so few people visit the province that is known for its blooms.

The Verneukpan salt pan, for instance, is regarded as an excellent location for film and television production.

You can sleep on the salt pan, which has a special atmosphere in the still of the night when the stars shine and the wind moves across its vastness.

The Ais Ais Richtersveld National Park offers visitors a place to relax in and to refresh their energies. There are also lots of activities for the fit and not so fit. Lunar landscapes provide great space for contemplation and inner reflection .

You can also experience the roar of the Kalahari near Olifantshoek, which emits a strange rumbling sound when you step on it in hot, dry weather. At night it is eerily quiet and desolate.

Then there is the Klipsringer hiking trail at the Augrabies Falls National Park, where you can get in touch with nature and yourself.

And if it's adventure you want, visit the incredible Kgalagadi Transfontier National Park where you can hike to your delight.

The immense wilderness is famous for its oryx and eland antelope and big cats. The arid landscape and clear skies are just what you need to de-stress and relax.

For attractions, check out Kamieskroon to Hondeklip Bay, which boasts wide open spaces, long, empty beaches, fantastic shore fishing and breathtaking sunsets.

For those who like to test their vehicles on the open road, take a trip from Springbok to the Ais Ais Ritchersveld National Park. It's called Big Sky Country and 4x4 enthusiasts love it.

SA Tourism regional director Phumi Dhlomo says the trend in domestic travelling iss for people to visit friends and relatives in familiar places.

So during Tourism Month, the department has selected the least visited provinces to showcases what it has to offer.

"KwaZulu-Natal is more appealing because it is easy to drive and fly to, compared with Northern Cape.

"And people visiting that province tend to experience one and the same thing, which is the beach," he says.

Dhlomo says during September they will use the Sho't Left campaign to highlight and provide information on what Northern Cape has to offer. There are also packages posted on the Sho't Left website.

"People are aware of these packages because we speak about them on radio and television.

"We provide a wide variety of packages for people to choose from and we ensure that the packages are very attractive and affordable," Dhlomo says.