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TThe Augrabies Falls National Park capitalises on the desolate semi-arid landscape of the northern reaches of the Northern Cape. Punctuated by solitary quiver trees, rocky outcrops and the mighty Orange River, it has an other-worldly feel to it, which makes exploring the park all the more exciting.
The Augrabies Falls National Park is 1 of 6 South African national parks in the Northern Cape. It follows the course of the Orange River from just outside Kakamas to the Namibian border, spanning more than 800km².
One of its biggest drawcards is the Orange River which thunders its way through the park, cascading powerfully down the 56m Augrabies Falls. This impressive visual display is second only to the incredible noise the water makes as it follows its age-old path to the Atlantic Ocean.
The resulting Orange River gorge is about 240m deep and runs for about 18km through the park, making for dramatic geological formations along the way.
In fact, the Augrabies Falls National Park is home to a couple of fascinating rock formations, including the aptly named Moon Rock. This massive weathered granite dome rises out of the semi-desert landscape, towering 30m above the park. It provides fantastic 360-degree vistas to those prepared to tackle the summit.
There are 3 viewpoints in the park: Oranjekom, Ararat and Echo Corner, all of which overlook the river and gorge. Echo Corner, as its name suggests, also has the distinction of producing resounding eerie echoes.
Despite the hot and dry habitat, many animals and plants have adapted to the conditions, offering a rewarding game experience. Visitors are able to do self-guided game drives or guided night drives with park officials.
Expect to see springbok, gemsbok, kudu, klipspringer, African wild cat, spotted genet and giraffe – many of which are more active at night when it's cooler. Leopard also prowl the park, although sightings of these elusive cats are rare.
The Augrabies Falls National Park has a substantial bird population that includes several raptor species and breeding pairs of Verreaux's eagles (previously known as black eagles).
Many adventure activities are also offered in the park. These range from hiking (try the overnight Klipspringer and Dassie hiking trails) to canoeing the Orange River, a 4x4 wilderness trail and mountain biking.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Augrabies Falls National Park:
Tel: +27 (0)54 452 9200
How to get here
Fly direct from any major South African city to Upington. From Upington, take the N14 to Kakamas. Follow the signs from here to the park. If you’re driving, from Johannesburg take the N14 to Upington, and from Cape Town take the N7 to Springbok and then the N14 to Upington. From Durban, take the N3 to Harrismith, N5 to Bloemfontein, N8 to Kimberley, main road to Groblershoop and then the N10 to Upington.
Best time to visit
The Augrabies Falls National Park is in a low rainfall area and subject to extreme temperature variations. Autumn (April and May) and spring (September and October) are the best seasons during which to visit, as daytime summer temperatures average a searing 40 degrees Celsius, and winter nights often drop below zero.
Things to do
Keimoes, Kakamas and Kanoneiland are interesting little towns to visit. Many farmers grow table grapes on the fertile riverbanks.
What to pack
Sun hat, sunblock, binoculars, swimming costume (in spring and summer), warm jackets (in autumn) and thermal clothes (in winter), comfortable walking shoes, hiking and camping gear for overnight hikes.
Where to stay
The park offers caravan and camping sites, self-catering 2-bed (4 sleeper) chalets and 4-bed (6 sleeper) family cottages.
Sultanas, raisins and table grapes in summer, available at incredibly low prices.