Upington is a town founded in 1884 and located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, on the banks of the Orange River. The town was originally called Olyfenhoudtsdrif ('Olive wood drift'), due to the abundance of olive wood trees in the area, but later renamed after Sir Thomas Upington, Attorney-General and then Prime Minister of the Cape. It originated as a mission station established in 1875 and run by Reverend Christiaan Schröder. The mission station now houses the town museum, known as the Kalahari Orange Museum. The museum is also the home of a donkey statue, which recognises the enormous contribution that this animal made to the development of the region during the pioneering days of the 19th century.
The elevation of Upington is 2742 feet (835 metres). It is the closest large centre to the Augrabies Falls (arguably the greatest of South African waterfalls) and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The landscape is very arid but the soil is fertile and crops such as fruit are grown in irrigated fields. The area 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 organisation generally known as Orange River Cellars (ORC). The organisation has six depots 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.
Upington has a modern airport with scheduled flights provided by SA Airlink (an affiliate of South African Airways). One of the airport's runways is 4900m in length.
In the first half of the 20th century there was a passenger train service from Cape Town to Upington. Until the 1950s a narrow-gauge railway line (two-foot gauge) ran from Upington to Kakamas and Keimoes, two nearby towns. The trains carried passengers and freight, being mainly dried fruit. The line to Kakamas was still in use during the November 2010 grape harvest season.
Shopping in Upington is characterised by High Street shopping, with most of stores located along the Scott, Schroder, Nelson Mandela and Mark streets. Upington has a mall, which is the area's first super regional mall. The mall is anchored by Game, Checkers, Spar, Woolworths, Tiger Wheel & Tyre and other clothing stores, banks and restaurants. It is located at the corner of Random van Riebeck and Malharbe streets.
Upington is located on the northern banks of the Orange River and is surrounded by irrigated vineyards. The hottest month of the year is January, with average daily temperatures swinging from 36 °C (97 °F) to 20 °C (68 °F), while in the coolest month of July temperatures range between 21 °C (70 °F) and 4 °C (39 °F). Also the driest month of the year, July sees an average rainfall of only 2 millimetres (0.079 in), while the wettest month of March sees 37 millimetres (1.5 in). Upington has been noted as being the sunniest location on the planet for three months of the year, from November through January. Alice Krige – South African actress
Chris Brink – Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University (former Vice-Chancellor and Rector of Stellenbosch University)
Ruben Cloete – South African football player
Patos de Minas, Brazil