One of the benefits of living in a small town is that there is no traffic. I used to dread it when we lived in Johannesburg, it would takes us 2 hours just to get out of the city on a Friday afternoon when we wanted to escape for a weekend getaway. Fortunately we don’t have that problem anymore. The open road was waiting for us and we took a trip to the Augrabies National Park over the weekend.
From our home, it’s a 3 and a half hour drive to the park and with all the rainfall in the province the past month, the scenery was magnificently green.
One also gets to drive a descent portion of the Quiver Tree route. A route that showcases the arid landscapes of the Northern Cape as well as the lush vineyards of the Green Kalahari.
Augrabies falls was named by the Khoisan as the “place of great noise”, a true testament you’ll get to experience if you are standing on one of the viewing decks next to the thundering water.
The park also plays host to a variety of indigenous plants, of which the Quiver tree is most popular.
Here is my list of things not to miss when visiting Augrabies National Park.
1. Augrabies falls
Obviously the main attraction, the 56 meter main fall is first on my list.
Make sure you go to all the viewing decks as each one offers a different perspective. Having a fear of heights like me, you might find some of the decks scary, fortunately not all of them are built on a steep cliff. Look out for the Dassies and Gecko’s around the walkways. If you are staying overnight, you can go view the falls at night as they are illuminated until 9.30PM.
2. Gorge Viewpoints
There are several viewpoints in the park, the one I recommend is Ararat. It showcases the majestic gorge against the ancient and arid landscape. During sunset, the sky turns pink and the sun illuminates the rocks creating a spectacular backdrop for your photos.
3. Game Viewing
Most people come to Augrabies just to see the waterfall, but I suggest you take a drive in the park for a few hours. It’s an arid landscape and you won’t expect to see any animals here, but if you have the patience nature will show you some real beauties. We were lucky to spot Eland, our very first time seeing this antelope in the wild. We also saw Duikers, Giraffe, Kudu and Springbok.
The park awakes at night when temperatures drop and it’s one of the best places in the country to do some stargazing. SANParks offers nightdrives if you’d like to experience the park at night.
Don’t even think about sleeping in, if you want to go on a hike you need to do it in the early morning. This is a desolate place and the region is by far the hottest in South Africa. For the sake of surviving and not turning into a raison, get it done early. Take lots of water, a hat and wear sunscreen.
There are 3 hiking trails available, of which the Klipspringer Trail is a 3 day trail.
The Dassie Nature Trail (5km) and the shorter Gorge Trail(2km) can be completed in a day.
Do yourself a favor and wake up early, go sit on one of the boulders and take in the majestic sunrise that awaits you. The sound of the cascading water in the background and the crisp smell of the bush in the early morning is any meditator’s dream.
- You can book accommodation online at SANParks or phone Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 9111.
- For a romantic getaway book the Gorge Cottage. A secluded and private cottage 20 minutes from the main camp.
- Gates open 7:00 and close at 18:00
- Closest town is Kakamas (40km)
- Best time to visit: March – October