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 Post subject: ELSA-Our Wet, wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP-Jan 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:09 pm 
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Where to start, I guess at the beginning would be a very good place to start!

In fact I should go right back and tell you that although I love KTP and never having been to Augrabies before but read lots about it, always maintained that I would not go in the hot seasons and nor in the very cold part of the year.
I like moderate weather! :wink: (Some might find that odd coming from Durban)

So when SO read and saw accounts of the tremendous rains up in Gauteng and then as they opened sluice gate after sluice gate in the Vaal and Gariep Dams he thought it might be a good idea to take a little trip down to see the predicted Augrabies Falls in full spate....... so the debating started, "what about our babysitting duties?"
Daughter and DIL both said "Go", we will make a plan.
OK, but what about the heat, you know what we said about this time of year,
"Well, we go to Kruger this time of year" was the answer, :hmz:
And then, Well, we can always throw in a few days in KTP! Now he's talking, heat forgotten! :whistle:

Well, I'll have to see if there is any accommodation available, its very short notice you know.
So I checked and there was, then it all started looking very appealing and I started getting into the spirit of it all! :dance:

But then came the reports of road closures, bridges underwater, long detours and a few doubts started creeping in again as to the wisdom of all this, but we persevered and sort of made plan B's if it became necessary.

And so on Monday 17th Jan. we started the long drive down to the Northern Cape, first a 800km drive to Kimberley, more or less half way, where we overnighted, and then onwards towards Upington, still not sure if we were going to be able to get through at this stage.

As our first views of the Orange River in all its glory came into sight we did quail a bit and the doubts became a definite niggle! :?




The bridge over the Orange River near Groblershoop. No sound unfortunately!




The bridge at Upington showing how much the river had risen and flooded the surrounding ground.



We phoned the camp and were told that the tar road to Kakamas and Augrabies was firmly closed and still underwater, and a long detour of over 185kms was necessary! :slap:
Then, a bit of luck, we happened upon a resident of Upington who had been to the falls a day or so earlier when the water was even higher and he assured us that if we took the R359, a dirt road on the south side of the river, we would be fine. :D

So after doing a little bit of shopping and where it was so hot that as I walked over the street the tar felt all soft and squishy!
Think SO said the temp was around the high 30's but I tried not to hear that!

After driving past kilometre after kilometre of wine and dried fruit farms/estates, we eventually arrived at the park gates, where the heat seemed even more intense and even though the camp was still around 6 kms away, we could see the spray from the falls rising in the distance and knew we were in for a pretty spectacular sight. 8)

At last!

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A quick check in and we can now hear and feel the spray from the falls and the ground trembling beneath our feet, the whole area around the reception and restaurant is filled with a misty spray, varying in intensity depending on the swirls of wind.
People are walking around looking somewhat bedraggled, like they have just emerged from the shower or a swimming pool and we look at them with a smile not knowing then that shortly we will be in exactly the same state! 8)

While we were sitting relaxing out on our little patio we became aware of a rustling in the tree next to us and to our amazement, a tree climbing Dassie busily eating the little flowers and seeds with gusto.



Then we decided that it was high time we went and had a look at what we had come all this way to see after all!

And I really can't think of any apt way to describe the spectacle other than AWESOME, MIND-BLOWING SPECTACULAR and nothing like I had imagined it would be.
We initially took our binocs and cameras along as they were, but soon realised that unless we wanted them water logged we had best wrap them up in protective coverings.

Think I will let the pics and video clip do the talking as words really don't do justice.
Some of them do look a bit hazy but it was just the constant heavy spray in the air making photography quite tricky.

I will start off with 2 pics that my SO took on a visit in 2006 when the falls were sort of at normal level so you can see the difference.

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Now at 4,400 cumecs which means 4,400 cubic metres of water per second and down from a high of over 5 cumecs a few days earlier! :shock:

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Due to the level of the falls at this stage only 2 of the reported 7 viewing platforms were open and it was only the next day that they opened a third but owing to the intense water, not spray, covering everything we could not possibly take our cameras there.
In fact, we slipped and slid our way down to the deck and once there, within 10 seconds, we were drenched to the very skin!
We noticed it had taken some damage and quite a few of the floorboards had been lifted up with the force of the water. :shock:

To be continued.......

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Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


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 Post subject: Re: Our Wet, Wild and wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP.
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:14 pm 
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Jock wrote:
There is just one problem with this trip ..............................................................................................................
I was not with you :wink:
But you were there in spirit! :D
Thanks SO much to everyone for all the fantastic comments and I am really glad we were able to share this amazing sight.

Day 2. 19th Jan

Today had a very strange beginning, :? we were woken up very rudely by the earth literally trembling and rumbling beneath us!
It went on for a few seconds, "What the .... was that?" I asked instantly awake.
SO said very calmly, think it was either an earth tremor or one the gigantic rocks had given up the fight against the raging torrents and crashed to the ground?
Anyway, no more vibrations were felt and thankfully the chalet seemed to be still more or less in one piece.
We did ask at reception later in the day but were given very quizzical looks,
I have seen something that the Augrabies Guru posted recently re frequent tremors occurring in the area but can't seem to find where I saw it?

Our chalet which was # 43 if anyone knows the camp well and was the last one before the camping ground, with a lot of trees and shrubbery dividing it.
Nice for birding but sitting outside for any length of time was a bit of a "damp" affair and we had to be careful to keep all our equipment covered up otherwise we would have had spotted pics.
As it was SO was constantly cleaning the lenses, almost a full time job.

I was initially a bit disappointed when told on booking that we could not get a chalet with a view but once there realised how fortunate it was, as guests in those chalets were not able to sit outside or use their braais at all and it looked as if someone was playing a hosepipe or a sprinkler over the front of them with water streaming off the roof and front windows constantly.

I still managed to get a few more ticks if not too many pics as the birds there seemed somewhat camera shy and hyperactive.

One we did manage to get, due to pure dogged persistence was the Cape Robin-chat

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Another new tick was the African Red-eyed Bulbul, but no pic.

As the Game viewing area was closed due to flooded roads and wash aways, we pretty much just wandered around, went down to the viewing decks to get another dousing every now and then and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

Even while sitting on the veranda at the restaurant there was a constant spray in the air and buzz of numerous light aircraft and helicopters circling the falls bringing in sightseers, no doubt a lucrative pastime! :wink:
We decided to have lunch there and it was not bad at all other than a few of my Chicken strips being rather rare, :whistle:
but good and attentive service. :D

On walking back through the reception area after visiting the shop for an ice cream, I noticed a guy busy behind the computer and on impulse wandered over and met our "Augrabies Guru" :clap:
So nice to meet you and have a nice little chat. :D

Later on we decided to go for a drive to the park gates and back where one can get a nice view of the river before its headlong plunge.

The area is covered in these quite fascinating Quiver Trees.

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Back at the chalet I sat outside watching these fascinating little animals as they scurried around.

Hello!

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Taking the load off!

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and that night the full moon rose above the trees, shrouded in the misty spray giving it a strange effect.

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The next day we were up reasonably early, no wake up call tremors today thank goodness!

We were also very pleased to find out that the tar road from Kakamas to Upington had just been reopened, thereby saving us from having to do the dirt detour road again and after having one more quick peek at the falls, from a safe distance this time, we left this place called 'Aukoerebis’ by the Khoi people meaning "Place of Great noise" and never was there a more apt name than now. :clap:

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


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 Post subject: Re: Our Wet, Wild and wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP.
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:56 pm 
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Mega thanks to you all for the wonderful and encouraging posts. :clap:

Day 3 - 20th Jan - Off to KTP

When we reached the previously closed Kakamas bridge we were quite amazed to see the fields of grape vines and Date palms standing literally "knee deep" in water, (well about where their knees would be if they had any!) clearly where the river had flooded and a good distance away on each side, what a sight it must have been. :shock:

I am sorry we did not get a pic but the traffic at that time didn't really give us the opportunity to stop.
But from what we could see, and of course,without actually talking to anyone, and we could be wrong, it looked to us that it was not so much that the bridge would have been under water but the road leading up the bridge which appeared to be a lot lower.

At Upington we had to to have a 3 hour delay as our car was due one of its essential services, oil, spark plugs and the like, and owing to the long distances we had to travel, could not be deferred.
A bit frustrating but nothing that could be done and the dealership was most efficient and took the car in straight away, still all loaded up with our cameras, cooler boxes, cases, etc. and assured us it would be perfectly safe and so it was. :D

They even loaned us a little car to go around the town in, so we dropped into the offices of Sentech for a natter where my SO used to spend a lot of his time doing training there.
then off to Pick & Pay for a few more essentials and it had got even hotter than when we were there before, :roll: literally more tar melting temps.

Eventually the car was ready and we could set off on the 250 kms journey to TR.

After a quick check in at the new and impressive reception building we made our way to our allotted accommodation. # 28 in Twee Rivieren.

After unpacking and relaxing for a bit we decided to take some sundowners and do a little drive up as far as the road closure on the Nossob river side.

Some Springbok, Wildebeest, a few Tortoises which we always seem to see at Leeudril and other odds and ends were seen.

Back at camp we settled down with a nice braai and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.

During the night, the peace was shattered and we were woken with some vivid flashes of lightning and huge rolls of thunder followed by a couple of hours of heavy rain.

The next morning, pack everything back in the car again and off on a slow drive up towards Mata Mata for the next 2 nights.

Something we hadn't seen last time and were hoping to see this time was almost our first sighting.

Whistling Rat

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Then what I think is a Spike-heeled Lark

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and an Anteating Chat

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These attractive flowers were found all over and what I believe are the Devil Thorn plant.

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Then a beautiful Red-crested Korhaan

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who decided to impress us with his call.



and then as an added attraction did his flying up in the air, then feet up and plunge to the ground like he had been shot.
and I was most impressed! :clap:

Carrying on up and I must apologise at the outset that despite taking a notepad, it came back empty, :roll: I am becoming a hopeless "spaceman"
This is where Jock comes in useful as she writes every little detail down! She does have a few other uses as well. :wink:

This next sighting was rather strange to me, as I somehow didn't expect to see one in this area, but there it was nonetheless and my bird guide supports it. :thumbs_up:

Egyptian Goose

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Next up the ever present Springbok who, I might add, were in springbok heaven with the fresh green leaves of offer.

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Springbok and Rainbow.



Then we noticed this lovely Tree Agama scuttling around, not in a tree but on the ground.

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We hadn't gone too far when we came across a few parked cars with everyone gazing with binocs intently at the ridge of rocks in the distance, so we did the same and suddenly into view came some spots and a long tail, Leopard, I whispered! not sure why as it was far off!
Then it jumped up on the top of the rocks and stood there silhouetted against the sky, then down again and made its way along just below the ridge, SO still couldn't for the life of him find it?

"Just take a pic" Huh, but where, was the answer, "there, by those trees"

and this is the result, see if you can spot the spots?

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At one of the waterholes having a drink was this Lanner Falcon which I think is a juvenile by the streaking on the chest, bigger than I had expected them to be!

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and off....

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and nearby a Tawny Eagle

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Also off.... was it something we said?

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We couldn't get over how green everything was, in fact sometimes it was hard not to think we were in Kruger.

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The Sociable Weaver nests as impressive as ever and some so large that the branch had broken and fallen to the ground.

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with the occupants of said nests

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We saw many Black-chested Snake Eagles flying around and finally got one that was happy to pose for the camera.

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and a cute little Wildebeest calf who was quite curious

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Secretary Bird

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and some Ostrich with young

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Waterhole buddies!

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This sighting is at the one place I do definitely remember! 8)

A little way past Sitszas water Hole

Such good buddies!

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A nice leg rest!

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The King and his Queen flat out!

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Then we arrived at Mata Mata, checked into a river front unit # 7 which are really lovely and spacious.

While SO flopped out in the air conditioning I sat on the patio with something cold and observed the river bed and water hole.

Just the little Ground squirrels rushing around in the heat doing what Squirrels things.

We went a bit later and sat in the hide in the camping ground and although there were no animals present the Doves constantly flying in for a quick sip, the males harassing the females, then flying out again kept us amused for a while until it was time to go back and light the braai.

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That night a couple of Gemsbok and what we think was a Bat-eared Fox visited the waterhole.

More to follow on the next day.........

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


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 Post subject: Re: Our Wet, Wild and wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP.
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:13 pm 
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Micetta wrote:
Do you set the alarm clock to see animals at the waterhole or what? I just sleep through it all if nobody wakes me up :wall: :lol:
These were fairly early visitors Mi. wandering in while we were still outside.
The floodlight was still on from the hide as well so easy to see the Gemsbok but the ?BE Fox was down at the other waterhole to the right.

Thanks to all those "coming along" on the trip with us and for the great comments, so glad you are enjoying it all with us.

Felt like our heads had hardly touched the pillows when, the heat started!
They shut down the generator at 10.30pm and it didn't take long for the room to reach boiling point.
We opened all the windows including the sliding door onto the patio but without a breath of wind it was not much relief.
Consequently we tossed and turned all night, I did get up a few times and stand in the doorway peering hopefully out over the river bed but as it was pitch black by then, nothing to be seen.

As the alarm went off, so the generator came back on! :roll:
but we had decided to get out at gate opening and then come back towards lunch time, have something to eat and crash out for a couple of hours to make up for our lost sleep and no doubt another "hot" night ahead.

Day 5 Jan 22nd Mata Mata

Our drive down to around Urikaruus and back.

Our first sighting was a Striped Kingfisher and he had found himself some breakfast.

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Then some Springbok getting to know each other and practising a bit of scrumming!!



Next up at Sitszas WH again, I declared it an excellent water hole. :dance:

Cheetah brothers whose main occupation was a bit of morning grooming making for pretty unimpressive pics, but a thrill for us nonetheless.

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But the video should make up for it!



Nearby a lone Wildebeest looked strangely very nervous, eventually lost his nerve, gave one snort, a stamp of the foot and galloped away.

This Gemsbok initially stood posing nicely

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and as soon as we had his pic decided that was enough and also galloped away and up into the dunes.

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We noticed this Kori Bustard striding purposely down the river towards a group of other Bustards and as he seemed to be all puffed up in his finery we assumed he was out to impress them.

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but then surprisingly they passed each other with out even a sideways glance?

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Then at Dalkeith WH we came across a few cars that had been sitting with a group of Lions but who were by this time on the move.

It was quite amusing in that the one young male was playing with and doing his best to knock over the "Do not get out of your vehicle" sign.

As we lifted the camera to take a pic he stopped! :( as it would have made a great pic and a good reason why one should adhere to the signs and rules.

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The the King was lying a bit further down and they gradually all wandered off and up into the dunes.

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I actually think it could have been the same ones we had seen the night before.

Another handsome Gemsbok or Oryx

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and a small group of Red Hartebeest

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I have to include some scenery and flower pics which adorned this floral kingdom at this time.

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Watching over all of this is the majestic Martial Eagle

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Around Vertiende Boorgat we came across a flock of Abdim's Storks foraging in the grass.

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To give you some idea of how much rain had fallen.

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and at the waterhole itself, or a puddle next to it was a pair of Red-billed Teals

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Tawny Eagles

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I just love the red sand dunes, so bear with me!

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This Bat-eared Fox was a man/woman on a mission and I am afraid this was all we could get before it disappeared.

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Please excuse another pic of the regal and imposing Gemsbok Just can't help taking their pic!

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Male Ostrich who we think was doing his shift on a nest!

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On the way back towards Mata Mata the flowers were just too beautiful to resist.

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Back at the chalet, and after a nice little snooze interrupted by some serious thunder and lightning.

A pic looking from our chalet towards the hide and camping area.

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and then whiled away the afternoon hours watching the antics of the busy little Ground Squirrels

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The sky down South was as black as could be and we could see somewhere down there was getting hit by a big storm.

That evening we had some little visitors in the form of what we think are Bibron's Gecko's quite colourful little things.

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To be continued with our last full day.........

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


Last edited by Elsa on Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Our Wet, Wild and wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:17 pm 
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We wake up to our last full day in the park, :(
both our trips have now been short ones and we are determined the next one will be much longer and hopefully with Jock along who is longing to see what we all rave about for herself.

Day 6 - Jan 23rd

Today we plan a long drive down to our last overnight stop, Twee Rivieren, our route is to travel the Upper Dune road, down the Nossob side to Kij Kij and then owing to the road closure, across on the Lower Dune road and down to the camp.

After another hot night of rolling thunder but not much rain in camp, we leave around 8am.

If I remember correctly we were on the lower side road of Viertiende or Dertiende Boorgat where we saw this strange cloud formation, looking very much like there was still a lot of storm activity around to the South.

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We could also see where the black clouds of yesterday had dropped a lot of its water! :shock:

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making the proper water holes rather redundant!

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A few pics of more of the flowers that abounded.

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More puddles.

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A pair of Black-backed Jackals lay watching the herds nearby.
My guess were that there were Cheetah nearby but despite straining our eyes, we couldn't find them.

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We came across a little Springbok nursery and could not resist sitting watching them running around stretching their little legs.

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With one Springbok that had an attack of the nerves, (their alarm call is so different to the Impala, more like a bird whistle)



And this time my prediction of nearby predators came true! :wink:

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and so intent were we on watching the Cheetah that we were about to pull off when I noticed this little Ground Squirrel family almost right next to the car!

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The it was onto the Upper Dune road and anyone who knows this road will say its normally as dry as one would expect in desert conditions but we drove through one huge mud puddle after another in every dip the entire length of the road.
They must have had one terrific storm over the area the night before.

Namaqua Sandgrouse

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Northern Black Korhaan

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and who gave us a full on display of what he sounds like!

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Some more of the abundant flowers.

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and some purple ones that covered the dunes.

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We stopped off at Dikbaardskolk for a bite to eat and a stretch of the legs and just could not believe the water everywhere.

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A big lake of water had formed directly opposite the picnic site.

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We came across this pair of Raptors and I have been informed by the fundis that they are Juv. Yellow-billed Kites.


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A little further on down the Nossob Road which incidently we almost needed a boat for as we went through huge puddles in the road some stretching for at least 100metres or more and quite deep!

We had just passed a tree next to the road and suddenly a raptor that we had not noticed flew up out of the tree when I saw something falling and landing with a solid thump, so we reversed back to see it was a big Puffadder that had been partially eaten and was what the bird had dropped!

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Then up next was this pair of Bateleur Eagles one of our favourites.

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We saw much more Gemsbok on this side of the park and in big herds.

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These Ostrich thought they would take the opportunity to have a nice bath in one of the puddles.

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The apart from more Black Korhaans and a few other odds and ends we found the Lower Dune road quite corrugated, maybe due to the amount of traffic using it due to the road closure, but having said that, we did not see another single car from the time we left Dikbaardskolk until we got down to around Munro on the Auob side and this was a Sunday! :?

Once back at TR, it started raining again, so we abandoned any thought of a braai and rather made an "inside" type meal but not before meeting up and having a good natter with Jannie, the Kgalidgadi Guru.

And basically that's it, which I guess is not too bad considering we were only there for 4 nights.

The next morning while waiting for the petrol station to open we took a little drive up the road and found a Pygmy Falcon which is a new tick but before we could take a pic, someone, who must have seen us looking at something, passed us and chased the bird away and then stopped and looked around! :doh:
Oh well, guess you can't win em all, but overall we loved our unexpected and spur of the moment trip immensely.

Big thanks to all for coming along for the ride and of course to Klystron for getting all the pics ready for me, doing the videos and basically being the driving force behind the whole trip! :clap: :dance:

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


Last edited by Elsa on Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Our Wet, Wild and wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP.
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:44 pm 
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wanderw wrote:
I believe your raptors are kites ( bare yellow legs) - I think a black kite as it has a black tip on its beak, and not a plain yellow beak(yellow billed kite)
Thanks Wanda, WTM is kindly helping me with the ID of the birds and the census seems to be that it is a Juv Yellow-billed Kite. The other bird with it does not seem to have the variable plumage.
I was under the impression that they did not breed here but up in North Africa, so it just goes to show.

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Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


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 Post subject: Re: Our Wet, Wild and wonderful trip to Augrabies and KTP.
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:48 pm 
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ligt55 wrote:
We'll be passing by Augrabies in 3 weeks and originally planned to stay 2 nights there and next 2 nights at Goegap but unfortunately Goegap accommodation can not be booked.
Now we consider 3 nights Augrabies, would you support that idea or is a full day in between the 2 nights enough?
Hope you can help us to make up our minds, baie dankie, Mona
Hi Mona, sorry I didn't see your question before now! :redface:
Altho the water over the falls will not be anything like the volume it was when we were there, I would say, 3 nights in Augrabies would be fine, sure the falls will also be a good sight and especially since they have, I believe opened up some of the game viewing sections which were all closed for our visit.
Unfortunately not all the viewing decks are repaired yet either.
For more info have a look Here

Once more I extend my sincere thanks to everyone for reading our report and all the positive and encouraging comments. :clap:

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Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - May 24th - June 6th 2014.


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