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Augrabies Falls National Park

This Park covers about 500 sq km and protects the area where the Orange River changes from a wide, slow-flowing river traversing sandy soils, to a fast-flowing river that cuts through ancient granites. During February to April, the river falls are quite spectacular and the noise can be deafening, hence the origin of the name which the the local Khoi people formed 'Aukoerebis' in their Nama language, meaning 'Place of Great Noise'. In the eastern part of the National Park, the Orange River forms a system of small, interlinked channels before cascading over a waterfall approximately 90m high. The geology of Augrabies is fascinating and consists largely of ancient granite rocks, many of which show different ways in which they have been weathered. Some of the most striking are the huge 'whalebacks' which rise up above the landscape, and are gradually being worn down by chemical weathering, sheering off huge thin slabs of rock.

The vegetation of Augrabies needs to be hardy: succulents, aloes and acacias abound here along with the shepherd's tree, wild tamarisk and the Namaqua fig. One striking feature of the park are the Kokerboom (or quiver) trees which are often starkly silhouetted against the hills. Augrabies National Park has a very arid, almost desert-like environment and its wildlife includes at least 46 mammal and 186 bird species, as well as a number of reptiles. Most show adaptations to the area's large temperature fluctuations including smaller animals like slender mongooses, yellow mongooses, and rock dassies which utilise what little shade there are sheltering in burrows, rock crevices and fallen trees. It's interesting to observe that a population of Cape clawless otters is found at Augrabies, indicating that the river ecosystem is relatively healthy. The larger mammals found at Augrabies include steenbok, springbok, gemsbok, kudu, eland and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (Equus Hartmannae). The giraffe found at Augrabies are said to be lighter in colour than those found in the regions to the east, allegedly as an adaptation to the extreme heat. One of the most common antelope is the klipspringer, pairs of which are often seen bounding across the rocks by keen-eyed walkers. The main mammalian predators found in Augrabies are black-backed jackals, caracals, bat-eared foxes, African wild cats and an elusive population of leopards. Augrabies Falls National Park has the following activities; bird-watching, walking and hiking and many others.

How to get there
Augrabies Falls National Park lies 120 km (74.5 miles) west of Upington and 40 km (24.8 miles) northwest of Kakamas on a tarred access route. National air links to Upington and a private airfield is 5 km (3.1 miles) from the park. Internal roads are gravelled.

1. Augrabies Falls Restcamp is the only place to stay or eat inside Augrabies Falls National Park. It's large but friendly and offers 59 simply furnished self-catering chalets, a restaurant, a well-stocked bar, three swimming pools and a fuel station.

2. The Falls Guest House is located a few minutes away from Augrabies Falls National Park.

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