Augrabies Falls National Park in South Africa

November 3, 2018 11:43 pm125 commentsViews: 198

The Augrabies Waterfall forms the center of a 55 383-hectare national park, founded in 1966 and located approximately 120 kilometers west of Upington in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The Orange River meanders through the Kalahari landscape into a 18 kilometer long abyss of the Orange River Gorge before thundering down the 56 meter long Augrabies Waterfall. According to BPJ Erasmus in Op Pad in Suid-Afrika, Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2004, when the Orange River is in flood, 19 separate waterfalls tumble over the cliffs and the volume of water passing through the Augrabies falls may exceed that of the Victoria Falls.

Viewpoints over the Augrabies Falls National Park

A wooden platform close to the Augrabies Falls offers visitors a spectacular view of the water thundering down the gorge. On a windy day, the spray of the water may reach the platform, coating spectators in a film of mist.

Moon rock, an exfoliation dome or ‘whaleback’ is a prominent landmark in the National Park and from the summit of the rock, visitors have a clear view of the park and its surroundings. At Swart Rante (black ridges) the black hills, which contain very little quartz, forms a seemingly natural border between the harsh environment of the Orange River Gorge and the fertile soil on the other side. Hiking to the top of the Swart Rante will award visitors with a panoramic view of the startling contrast between the two landscapes.

From Oranjekom and Ararat lookout points, visitors can see the gorge and explore the wildlife of the Augrabies Falls National Park. Close to these viewpoints, Verreaux Eagles (Black Eagles) has a nesting site and they prey on the large rock hyrax population and the Cape clawless otters, which sometimes frequent the river below.

Activities at the Augrabies Falls National Park

Exploring the waterfall is not the only activity the park offers. Visitors may go on an unaccompanied game drive through the park and seek out the massive and diverse rock formations and wildlife inside the park or take a guided night drive with an experienced tour guide.

Adventure enthusiasts can explore the park on mountain bikes via the official roads. Although mountain bikes are available for hire at the park office, tourists are advised to bring their own bikes as hired bikes are not always available due to limited supply. The Gariep 3-in-1 Adventure consists of three parts, namely canoeing for 3 kilometers down the Orange River, a 4-kilometer walk and an 11-kilometer mountain bike ride.

Other adventures include a 94-kilometer long four-wheel drive course, which would take approximately 6 hours to complete. Visitors may picnic along the route at the facilities provided.

Two hiking trails afford visitors breathtaking scenery and the opportunity to explore the prolific wildlife and birds of the area. The Klipspringer Hiking trail is a three day – two-night trail where a maximum of 12 people are allowed, while the Dassie Nature Trail is a self – guided 5-kilometer circular route.

Facilities Available at Augrabies Falls National Park

Day visitors are allowed in the park and picnic spots with barbecue facilities and a swimming pool is available to these visitors. A well-stocked shop provides basic supplies and the Shibula Restaurant provides reasonably priced meals.

Tourists have a choice of accommodation ranging from budget camping to luxury accommodation in fully serviced family cottages. Residents in these accommodations also have access to three other swimming pools.

Fuel is available inside the Augrabies Falls National Park and cellular phone reception is good.

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