The hot, dry town of Upington in the Northern Cape is well known for its billowing heat waves and arid expanse. The region is also a space of rich cultural history and has been a prominent South African town since the late 1800’s. As a highly developed town that’s linked to all the major South African cities, Upington is a pit stop that travellers on board a luxury train travel vessel simply cannot skip over.

They say that all great cities are built on the banks of rivers; Cairo was built on the Nile, London on the Thames, and Upington sprung forth on the Orange River – one of South Africa’s largest and oldest rivers. The history of the town stretches back to the 1870’s, when a tribal chief from the Hottentot clan noted the European influences trickling into the culture of the country.

It appears that he realised the potential benefits of reading and writing and appealed to the state to have a mission station erected at the site where Upington now stands. In 1875, the chieftain’s request was granted and a mission station was set up under the watchful eye of Reverend Schroder.

As this magical land of the Green Kalahari expanded in size, the established mission station developed into a town and, by 1884, the town of Upington was founded and named after the Attorney-General and then Prime Minister of the Cape, Sir Thomas Upington.

These days the area can best be described as a landscape of contrasts, with fertile valleys primed for growing fresh produce, sandy bushveld that’s dotted with camel thorn and Shepard trees, as well as the incredible Augrabies Falls – arguably the country’s most magnificent waterfall.  The economy of Upington relies on tourism, and for those enjoying a train tour of South Africa, passing through the small town calls for stopovers at the Augrabies Falls, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as well as a novel tour of Reverend Schröder’s impeccably preserved home.