Our trip to the Augrabies Falls in the Northern Cape of South Africa reminded us of just how beautiful the landscape of our country is.
The Gariep River (formerly known as the Orange River) winds its way through the rugged terrain of the Augrabies Falls National Park slicing through the seemingly impenetrable granite rock.
As the river gets closer to the Augrabies Falls it splits off into lots of different river channels before cascading down the 56m drop. We visited the falls after fairly consistent rain earlier in the month and the noise created by the cascading water was simply deafening. From the bottom of the falls the river cuts through a gorge for about 18km in a sort of ‘mini Grand Canyon’.
If you are hungry then pop into the restaurant by the falls which sells fantastic ‘foot long’ sandwiches which you could easily share between two people. From here you can walk down to a number of viewing spots where you can look down on the river or across to the falls. Some of the viewing spots were closed for repair after the previous years’ flooding but we still found good spots to take photos. When you see how high some of the viewing platforms are here that have been damaged by flooding you will be amazed at how high the water can get here.
The Augrabies Falls National Park is located 120km west of Upington and at first glance looks a little bit like Mars must look like. The landscape is red in colour and very arid. If it wasn’t for the river that flows through here you would find it hard to believe that anything could survive here. We drove around the area and were amazed at the terrain, the rocks and the occasional Rock Dassie that we spotted hiding under the rocks. Please be advised that in the park you are only allowed out of your car at designated spots like picnic spots but this won’t spoil your fun. Watch out for the very cheeky Vervet monkeys in the park as they will grab anything given half the chance.
We were advised that when the river floods heavily the largest falls at Augrabies are actually almost hidden in the mist and spray but when we were there the river was running fast but not heavy. We noticed quite a number of keen bird spotters and they informed us the area was rich in birdlife from namaqua warblers, to dusky sunbirds and southern masked weavers.
If you are thinking of visiting the Augrabies Falls then you have a choice of either accommodation in Upington or looking at one of the venues or campsites actually in the park itself.
We didn’t actually do any hiking on this trip but people we spoke to recommended the 3 day Klipspringer Hiking Trail. The trail, we are told, is very well signposted with a mix of little green signs, painted white arrows on rocks and even rock cairns to direct you on your way.
Author Bio: Neil Playdon lives in South Africa and travels extensively around the country. He has published work on numerous travel blogs and enjoys sharing his travel experiences.