Upington is situated in the Northern Cape on the banks of the Orange River. In the middle of Upington, in the middle of the river, there is an Island with the very original name Die Eiland (the island). Upington was originally a mission station and the town was founded in 1884 and named after the attorney general of the Cape, Sir Thomas Upington. These days the mission station houses a museum that hosts amongst other things, a statue of a donkey. This is to dedicate the role that the donkey (yes, the animal) played during the early development of the Northern Cape in the 19th century. Due to the abundance of water from the river and high temperatures, the area is best known for its production of export quality grapes.
The Upington airport has one of the longest runways in the world, 4900 meters long. In the 1970’s a fully loaded Boing 747 could take off from here and fly all the way to London. These days the planes just fly from Cape Town or Johannesburg. This long runway also resulted in NASA choosing it as their preferred landing site in the Southern hemisphere, a position it still holds today.