Take care not to leave any valuables or food items about as there are baboons present in the camp.
Remember to bring a hat, walking shoes, sun block, camera, binoculars and wildlife reference books..
As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.
Hikers on day and overnight trails must always carry sufficient water.
Where To Stay
Things To See
Quiver Tree – this iconic tree, like the aloe, is part of the Augrabies landscape.
Spectacular views – as the sun lowers in the sky the main falls are lit up. The lights are switched on from 20h00 – 22h00.
Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle
Moon Rock: A massive exfoliation dome or “whaleback” which is a prominent landmark of Augrabies Falls. Walking to the summit will give one of the best views of the park and its surroundings.
Swart Rante: These foreboding black hills are another distinct landmark in Augrabies. Quartz-poor, these igneous rocks seem to form a natural border between the harsh environment of the gorge area and a more fertile area on the other side. The contrast between the two landscapes can best be seen from the top of Swart Rante.
Self catering chalets with 2 single beds, a double sleeper couch (not suitable for adults), lounge/bedroom/kitchenette, WC & Shower, AC, Microwave, kitchen equipped with crockery and cutlery, braai facilities, restaurant and shop on site.
Self catering chalets with 2 single beds, a double sleeper couch (not suitable for adults), lounge/bedroom/kitchenette, WC & Shower, AC, Microwave, kitchen equipped with crockery and cutlery, outside braai facilities, restaurant and shop on site. Units accessible for the mobility challenged.
Cottages with 2 (two) bedrooms, each with 2 single beds, a double sleeper couch (not suitable for adults), open plan kitchen/lounge, WC & Shower, AC, kitchen equipped with crockery and cutlery, outside braai facilities, restaurant and shop on site.
Cottages with 2 (two) bedrooms, (1) one en-suite with double bed and (1) one with 2 (two) single beds, a double sleeper couch (not suitable for adults), WC, Bath and Shower, AC, Microwave, kitchen equipped with crockery and cutlery, patio with braai facilities, restaurant and shop on site.
Waterfall viewpoints walking distance from the restaurant complex.
Game viewing at leisure using own vehicle.
Klipspringer Hiking Trail: 3 days, 2 nights and a maximum of 12 persons per group, and minimum of 2 persons per group. Advance booking essential. Closed October to March due to heat.
Dassie Nature Trail: This 5km self-guided hiking trail leads you on a circular route starting at the Rest Camp, following along the gorge to Arrow Point, then heading out into the veld by the Potholes and Moonrock before heading back to the Rest Camp. Maps are available at reception.
Arrow Point (one hour)
Potholes (one hour)
Moon Rock (one hour)
Night drives: minimum 4 persons required to secure, subject to availability. ***Please book directly with Park.***
Mountain bikes are allowed inside the park provided cyclists remain on the official roads.
The Wilderness Road is 94km long and will take approximately 6 hours to complete in a 4x4 vehicle. There is a scenic picnic spot halfway along the road with ablution and braai facilities.
Several panoramic viewpoints can be visited inside the park, all of which give stunning vistas of the park, the gorge and the Orange River. These points also provide great opportunities to spot our local birdlife.
The name Augrabies was given to the Water Fall by a Swede, Hendrik Jakob Wikar, when he passed there in 1799.
The name is derived from the Nama word as the Khoi people would refer to “Aukoerebis” meaning the "Place of Great Noise." This refers to the Orange River water thundering its way down the 56 m spectacular main Water Fall.
In 1954 the Upington Publicity Association requested the National Parks Board to proclaim the water fall a national park. After the Minister of Lands approved the Park in principle in 1955, the Department of Water Affairs objected to the proclamation of a national park. After a series of negotiations, Augrabies Falls National Park was eventually proclaimed on 5 August 1966. The park currently consists of 55 383 hectares. The establishment was based on the following objectives:
To conserve and restore the biotic diversity of the Orange River Broken Veld with its associated flora and fauna
To maintain the Augrabies Water Fall and its surroundings in an unspoilt state
To provide opportunities for Environmental Education and
To provide opportunities for research of the fascinating flora and fauna."
Early Stone Age
The ancestors of modern history have inhabited the area surrounding the Orange River since the Early Stone Age. During this time, there is evidence that early man had developed weapons for hunting animal like hippopotamus. They knew to establish themselves near good water sources like the Orange River. During the Middle Stone Age man had created more formal work tools and began to utilise fire. The Late Stone Age, which dates back 22 000 years, is characterized by tools that are smaller from the previous periods. The most prolific archaeological features are the stone cairns or graves from the later Stone Age. Excavations have shown that not all the cairns contains human skeletal remains.
The area is inhabited by the Nama People who over the centuries have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions of the area.
A traditional expression from this area is that the traditional domed huts known as ‘matjieshuise’ and a direct translation would be ‘mat houses’. These houses are extremely well suited for the hot climate in this area. During the summer, the stems and culms from which the mats are mad up of shrink, allowing gaps to appear. This results in a breeze being able to flow through and cool the hut down. In winter the stems expand keeping out the cold winds and rain.
Many delicacies unique to this area may be enjoyed here, like homegrown raisins and dried fruit. Traditional dishes like “puff adders” (named after the snake); are intestines with the fatty portion inward, stuffed with minced liver and skilpadje (tortoise) stomach net fat wrapped around a small piece of liver are always popular.
Vehicle fuel is available in all parks (or is available on the park periphery) - South African legislation stipulates that fuel stations will accept legitimate petrol/fuel/garage/credit/debit cards or cash as a form of payment for any fuel purchase.
Malaria prophylactics and mosquito repellents are a good precaution. Malaria has been historically recorded in the area but is not very prevalent. Please consult your chemist/doctor to alleviate any concerns.
Vehicle repairs, medical services, post office and police: Kakamas (40km).
Shoes must be worn on summer evenings to avoid scorpion stings.
Bicycles, roller blades and skateboards are not allowed.
You may enter the Park with motorcycles and are allowed to stay in the camping site.
For reservations and availability, please e-mail Central Reservations or phone them on +27 (0)12 428 9111
Augrabies Falls is located in a remote area of the expansive Northern Cape Province.
Despite this many tourists are welcomed at the park every year due to its central location along the N14 highway which connects the north-eastern provinces with the west coast region. The park is also a favoured stop-over for travelers coming to or from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The closest national airport is located in Upington, 120km from Augrabies Falls NP. There are daily links between Upington, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Several hire care agencies are located at the airport and the city centre. There is a private landing strip only a few kilometers from the park: please contact Augrabies Falls if you require more information.
From Cape Town take the N7 north to Springbok. When you arrive in Springbok turn onto the N14 to Kakamas and Upington. About 10km before Kakamas turn left into the R359, the park will be signposted. From this point onwards you will reach the park after driving another 39km. The entrance to the park will be signposted.
From Johannesburg take the N14 through the North-West Province to Kuruman and then onwards to Upington. From Upington keep on the N14 towards Kakamas and once you reach the centre of town the park will be signposted. Keep on the N14 when passing through Kakamas and after 10km turn right on the R359. From this point onwards you will reach the park after driving another 39km. The entrance to the park will be signposted.
07:00 – 18:30
**Please note that although the gate is manned 24 hours a day, you need to make prior arrangements with the park if you plan to arrive after 18.30 or wish to leave before 07:00.**
Augrabies is situated in a semi-arid region, which implies low annual rainfall and extreme variations of temperatures.
In the peak summer months (January / February) the average daytime temperature is 41°C, but highs of 46°C have been recorded. During these months the high temperatures are further aggravated by the many rocks where temperatures can reach up to 70°C during the day. Summer nights are usually more pleasant but temperatures will remain high at around 25°C.
During winter months the average daytime temperature often hovers around 20°C but lower temperatures are a possibility. Winter nights average around 0°C although the temperature drops to -5° occasionally.
Autumn and spring are characterized by pleasant, moderate temperatures.
The average annual rainfall in the park is 124mm, with most rains occurring between November and April. Summer rain usually falls in short, heavy bursts, accompanied by spectacular thunderstorms and strong winds. Winter rains are gentle and last 1-3 days resulting in a flower paradise.
The People and Conservation (P&C) Department of Augrabies Falls National Park is very involved with educational work both inside and outside the park boundaries.
School groups from all over the Northern Cape visit Augrabies Falls during the year with some coming from even further a field. Visiting schools receive an educational programme which is adapted to their needs and the grades in question. Normally this involves a detailed presentation about all aspects of the park: the waterfall, wildlife, plants & trees, P&C and tourism. If suitable, a second, more detailed presentation will be given regarding a more specific subject such as snakes, scorpions and spiders. After these presentations learners are eager to head down to the waterfall to see for themselves what all the fuss is about! During this walk they will receive more information regarding the plants and animals which can be found around the waterfall area.
P&C staff is also involved in community outreach programmes by visiting local schools as often as possible, usually on special calendar days such as Water Day, Earth Day World Environment Day and National Arbor Week. The information and activities prepared for the learners will be concerned with the subject of that special day.
Due to the nature of the arid region it is very important for children to realize that water is a precious resource which cannot be wasted. Teaching them how to conserve water and letting them come up with ways in which they can decrease their water use is an important part of environmental education at Augrabies Falls.
Environmental Education also means bringing the message of conservation to the public especially to the surrounding communities of the park. Currently no environmental centre exists. If available the BMW Conference Centre (near the reception area) is utilised during holiday seasons as an educational interpretive centre for exhibiting of a collection of various rocks and minerals from the area as well as several animal skeletons and traditional tools used by the Nama people of the Northern Cape. Guided walks to the waterfall, a daily presentation and continuous nature documentaries are then available to visitors.
Currently our main focus for youth outreach lies with the establishment of an environmental club in the town of Augrabies. Young people from other nearby communities are eligible to join as well of course. The aim of this club is to provide fun and educational opportunities for local youth to involve them in environmental activities and create a sense of responsibility for their community.
Ideally this club would come together once or twice a month to participate in an activity related to an environmental topic, such as a community clean-up operation
Community Based Conservation
Augrabies Falls National Park successfully completed the Community Water Efficiency Project (COWEP) in the community of Augrabies +/- 16 km from the park in 2006/7.
The Community Water Efficiency Project (COWEP) is a partnership programme between the South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), implemented in 2005 at three sites in two Arid Parks namely Namaqua National Park and Augrabies Falls National Park.
The SANParks/DWAF Community Water Efficiency Project (COWEP) went through two phases. Phase 1 included the training of 6 voluntary youth members and an awareness raising campaign in the community including learners at schools and adults at home until it was implemented between 28 August and 09 September 2005. This implementation included daily data recording twice a day by the 6 volunteer youth of the participating households’ water consumption.
The National Launch of COWEP attended by officials from both head offices of SANParks and DWAF, local government and other agency officials, as well as the local community including the learners and educators in the community hall of Augrabies in November 2005 was a highlight in this community.
Phase 1 of this project indeed had positive spin-offs. It provided the unique opportunity to build a constituency for co-operative governance and management of water resources in the rural communities residing in and around national parks; was a very visible programme; led to personal growth especially within the volunteers; and the community input established an ownership which strengthened relationships with the park.
Phase 2 of this project kicked off with the official report of the outcomes of phase 1 to the community of Augrabies and the local Kai Garib Municipality who had also supported this project from the start. During this phase scoping for gardening was done and even a door-to-door report back of the COWEP results to all participating households in the community of Augrabies took place.
In September 2006 the training of volunteer community members kicked off where the concept of permaculture which originated from the two terms, namely “permanent” and “agriculture” were well-introduced to the 22 debutant community members by outsourced Service Providers. The idea is that the human culture cannot exist without sustainable agriculture. Permaculture aims to design agriculture in such a way which will have the minimum negative results on the natural and human environments; rather work with nature instead of against it.
Intense but interesting theoretical presentations were delivered during two days, emphasising important themes such as: Ecology, Plants as translators of solar energy; Natural feeding- and water cycles; the principles and design of permaculture, etc. From days 3 tot 5 all took part in the reconstructing of the existed food garden of the Assumpta Primary School (Augrabies) into a new food garden based on the principles of permaculture of which the oldest member was 71 years old. A nursery was also established by the group.
This project in the community of Augrabies has now been completed with the food garden established to serve as an additional source of nourishment for the local primary school as well as to the broader community. The garden is currently managed by a group of motivated community members, who successfully harvest their own fresh crops. A second Community Water Efficiency Project will be initiated early in 2008/9 in one of the other communities neighbouring the park in order to promote efficient water use. The 6 voluntary youth were taken up in Nature Conservation Learnerships in the park from May 2006 to May 2007 which they completed successfully.
Cultural Heritage Management
An extensive archaeological/historical study was presented in 2001 which covered large sections of the park as well as the surrounding areas. This findings of this massive research project concluded that the area is rich in prehistoric and more recent historic sites. Early, Middle and Late Stone Age sites were discovered in and around the national park with many artefacts and tools being discovered from these ancient times. Late Stone Age rock art has been discovered outside the park at Perdepoort near the community of Riemvasmaak.
Numerous San and Khoi graves have also been found in the park and the surrounding areas. It consists mostly of figurative art such as human figures as well as depictions of ostrich, giraffe, eland, hippo, gemsbok and zebra. Historical locations related to the first European settlers such as churches, quiver tree inscriptions and rock paintings dating back to the beginning of the 20th century are also important heritage sites in the area. One of the largest sites in the park is a Boer War fort called Manie Maritz se Fort, which was likely used by Boer General Maritz as a resupply station.
Every cultural heritage site, be it a small archaeological dig or a Boer War fort, is given a conservation status depending on their vulnerability and those located near trails or roads are often inspected if not protected by field rangers or (if located outside the park) tourism officials. It should be noted that nearly all cultural heritage sites are vulnerable and should never be touched or moved. While there are numerous sites within Augrabies Falls, most of them are not yet accessible to visitors.
Elders from the communities surrounding the park will be engaged, to find out more about their knowledge and culture. Stories from these people will also be recorded on paper as well as by dictaphone so that this information does not get lost. Interesting information e.g. beliefs, traditional food and religious issues will also be recorded and a pamphlet produced for interested visitors. This project is being undertaken by one of the conservation students from 2007.
Other species of interest that occur include: Pygmy Falcon, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Namaqua Warbler, Black-chested Prinia, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Mountain Wheatear (Chat), Tractrac and Karoo Chat and Fairy Flycatcher. There is also an isolated western population of Double-banded Sandgrouse in addition to Namaqua Sandgrouse.
The area around the gorge is the place to look for Black eagle. Keep an eye out too for Peregrine Falcon and Rock Kestrel, while Black and Alpine Swift and Rock and Brown-throated Martin should be seen.
Echo Corner is a good place to look for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, while the parks many rock koppies could produce Mountain Wheatear, Short-toed Rock-Thrush and Cape Bunting .
In more open country, away from the river, search for Ludwig’s Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Double-banded Courser and several lark species.
The camp area is a good place to start birding, with Rosy-faced Lovebird, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Acacia Pied Barbet, Ashy Tit, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Namaqua Warbler, Black-chested Prinia, Pririt Batis, Pale-winged Starling, Dusky Sunbird and the beautiful Orange River White-eye, all occurring in the acacia bush and riverine vegetation.
The gorge just below the camp, in which the orange river forms the actual Augrabies Falls, supports Verreaux's Eagle and Peregrine Falcon, as well as huge mixed flocks of aerial feeders such as Alpine Swift, African Black Swift, Brown-throated Martin and Rock Martin.
Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Short-toed Rock-Thrush and Mountain Wheatear occur on the rocky koppies found on the drives. A good spot to try for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler is Echo Corner.
Other typical karoo species occurring in the open arid country away from the river include Ludwig's Bustard, Double-banded Courser, Stark's Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Rufous-eared Warbler, Karoo Korhaan and Chat Flycatcher.
Nocturnal life in Augrabies Falls is abundant, especially during the warm summer months, and many animals take the opportunity to wander and feed during the cooler nights.
Typical night-time hunters such as the African wild cat, bat-eared fox, free-tailed bat, aardwolf and the small spotted genet will often be spotted during night drives in the park. Additionally, many antelope species as well as the giraffe are often active during the night, making an encounter even more special. The stealthiest predator in the park, the leopard, is rarely seen but a sighting remains an ever present possibility.
Temperature fluctuations in the region have resulted in unique adaptations in animals. The animals in Augrabies can survive in extreme high and low temperatures. Smaller animals make use of whatever shade is available as well as burrows, rock crevices and fallen trees. The types of animals that have made these adaptations are the slender mongoose, the yellow mongoose, and rock dassies. An interesting mammal found in Augrabies is the cape clawless otter; their presence in the park indicates that the river ecosystem is relatively healthy.
The giraffes found in Augrabies are lighter in colour than those found in the regions of the east, as a counter measure for the extreme heat. One of the most often seen antelope is the klipspringer, which are normally seen in pairs. Other antelope found in the park are steenbok, springbok, gemsbok, kudu and eland.
Predators in Augrabies come in the form of leopard, black backed jackals, caracal, the bat eared fox, and the African wild cat, and the elusive leopard.
Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra (Equus Hartmannae) is also present in the park and due to their endangered status are closely monitored by the park rangers.
A total of 49 mammal species, including a number of rodent species, have been recorded.
Augrabies is the largest conservation area (51 430 ha) within the Orange River Broken Veld vegetation type.
The most characteristic plant in the park is the giant aloe called quiver tree (kokerboom), Aloe dichotoma. The quiver tree is perfectly adapted to the dry desert and semi-desert areas on the rocky hills, the extreme temperatures and the infertile soil. It grows three to five metres high. The tree gets its name from the fact that the San used the soft branches to make quivers for their arrows. The eye-catching silhouette of the quiver tree is typical of the Northern Cape landscape. The trees flower a canary-yellow in the winter. Swarms of birds and locusts are attracted to their copious nectar, and baboons tear the flowers apart to get the sweet liquor. Herbivores including giraffe, eland and kudu also do damage to leaves and branches. Young plants often get pushed over and consequently die.
Nearly 70 different species of grass, shrubs, herbs and trees can be found in Augrabies Falls NP.
The majestic Camel thorn (Acacia erioloba) is a dominant tree species in the region, growing to a height of up to 15m with many animals relying on this tree for both food and shade. When eaten, the grey seed pods exude a strange smell and result in a rank taste in the meat of animals that feed on them. The Camel thorn has a wide variety of medicinal uses: its bark is grinded into a powder and used to ease headaches, the gum is taken with warm water and used against flu and even its roots are used against coughing. Traditionally, the Khoi-San people used to burn the wood to use the ashes as facial decoration for the women; in Tswana culture a string is made from the seedpods and wrapped around the feet for a traditional dance; and finally the seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee.
The Sweet thorn tree (Acacia karroo) is the most widely distributed of all thorn trees in South Africa, and occurs mainly along rivers and drainage lines. The growth form is highly variable from region to region, so that different geographical growth forms can be distinguished; fortunately the yellow round flowers (inflorescences) and the pods stay the same. Pairs of large white thorns are usually present. Medicinally its gum, being edible, has been used against sores in the mouth and to stop bleeding; its leaves and bark is used to treat diarrhoea . As with the Camel thorn, the seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee; the gum of tree is also used as a floor polish.
Another tree that does very well in the arid region is the Shepherd’s tree (Boscia albitrunca), known colloquially as ‘Witgat”, this is an evergreen tree which grows to a height of 7m and has a rounded shape. This tree is widespread, except along rivers and pans, and is an important source of food for browsers. It also has many uses: its leaves are used to treat infection and the green fruits to treat epilepsy; traditionally it has also been used to make coffee (roots), porridge (roots) and its fruits are edible and can be either cooked, pickled or eaten raw.
Clearly visible along the Orange river gorge is the Namaqua fig (Ficus cordata). The Northern Cape variety of this conspicuous “rock-splitter” is characterized by many striking, large individual trees along the rocky areas of the park. Its shiny, leathery leaves and greyish-white bark are visible from afar. Leaves of this tree contain a milky latex, making them unsuitable as a food source for wildlife. The bark is used for tanning and dyeing of hides, apparently giving leather a favoured red colour.
The Jacket-plum tree (Pappea capensis) with its rounded bright red plum covered in a shiny, furry green capsule is normally associated with the drainage lines in the park. The bright red, jelly-like seeds are edible, with a delicious sweet-sourish taste, and are collected to make jam, jelly or vinegar. The lower branches are browsed extensively by game. Traditionally, the seed and bark of this tree were used for tanning purposes. The mixture of bark and water is then applied on the meat side of the hide. The seed oil of this tree has been used as gun oil and for making soap.
Other plants which can be easily spotted in the vicinity of the restcamp are Kraalaalwyn (Aloe claviflora), Desert broom (Sisyndite spartea), Namaqua porkbush (Ceraria namaquensis), Rae Bushman grass (Stipagrostis hochstetteriana) and Driedoring (Rhigozum trichototum).
Another group of animals that is thankful for the diverse habitat Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) offers is the reptiles.
Unfortunately reptile enthusiasts can only expect a glimpse of the many interesting creatures during the summer months. AFNP is home to 41 reptile species, the most famous being Broadley’s flat lizard, locally known as the Augrabies flat lizard. The lizard is only found within a 100 km radius of the falls and is guaranteed at every view point of the falls on warm days. Various agamas (Ground, Anchieta’s and Southern rock) are a common sight basking on the boulders, so be on the look out for those since they are so excellent at blending in with their environment.
The most infamous snake found here is arguably the black spitting cobra and is most often spotted during the early mornings or late afternoons. Many snakes enjoy sunbathing on the rocks in the morning; nevertheless they are very difficult to spot. Other snake species that can be found here are: cape cobra, horned adder, desert mountain adder, Beetz’s tiger snake, Karoo sand snake and several others. For your information no snake bites have ever been documented at AFNP.
Look out for the Nile monitor who can also be found next to the main river and the smaller streams flowing through the park and at night time the helpful thick-toed gecko’s come out to relieve us from unwanted insects. Regularly seen is the often massive leopard tortoise (adults weigh up to 20kg) which enjoys feeding on the fresh grass and aloes of the campsite.
A complete list of all reptiles & amphibians can be found at AFNP reception desk.
A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera.
Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged adult form.
Most species are day-flying so they regularly attract attention. The diverse patterns formed by their brightly coloured wings and their erratic yet graceful flight have made butterfly watching a fairly popular hobby. (Source: Wikipedia)
A survey was conducted by the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa at the Augrabies National Park during September 2008. A short report was released.
The unit is accessible to the mobility challenged. The open-plan chalet features two single beds, an aircon, kitchen and a bathroom with a shower.
Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.
Accessible Activities & Facilities
The reception complex shop, cafeteria, tea area and information displays are all accessible, but the restaurant is upstairs. There is an accessible toilet at the public toilet block. There is also a swimming pool in the camp, but no assisting rails to get in and out are present.
The park’s highlight, the falls, can be viewed from one wheelchair accessible walkway and platform, but due to the rough terrian along the trail to the walkway, most wheelchair users will require assistance. The presence of sand flies (muggies) can be a nuisance.
Elsewhere in the park, the viewpoints ar not particularly accessible for a person in a wheelchair.