About Augrabies Falls
Augrabies is a powerful 56m high waterfall located along the Orange River and spilling into the rugged Orange River Gorge as it winds its way along the edge of Namibia’s Namib Desert.
The falls are surrounded by the 820 km² Augrabies Falls National Park which showcases the arid environment in this area and all the creatures and plants that inhabit it.
The falls got their name from the local Khoi people who first discovered them. They called this place Aukoerebis, meaning Place of Great Noise. The Trekboers who settled here later adapted the name to its current form.
The Orange River is a source of alluvial diamonds, and legend has it that the world’s largest stash of these shiny gems lies out of reach in the pool at the foot of this thundering waterfall.
Most people visit Augrabies Falls to enjoy its abundance of natural treasures in the form of scenery, birds, animals, and plants.
Where is Augrabies Falls?
You’ll find Augrabies Falls, about 120 km west of Upington in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province near the small town of Kakamas. It is 770 km from Cape Town, 910 km from Johannesburg, and 971 km from Windhoek.
The History of Augrabies Falls National Park
Mankind has inhabited the area around the Orange River since the stone age, and the Nama people lived in the area of Augrabies Falls for centuries until the white settlers arrived.
Hendrik Jakob Wikar was the first European to stumble across the falls in October 1778. Other people soon followed to enjoy the abundant water supply, ideal for growing crops and raising livestock in an otherwise arid region.
In 1954, the Upington Publicity Association approached the Minister of Lands to proclaim the waterfall a national park. He approved this in principle a year later, and after the necessary negotiations, proclaimed the Augrabies Falls National Park on 5 August 1966.
Visiting Augrabies Falls
Augrabies Falls is managed by SANParks and operates along the same lines as most major conservation areas in South Africa.
The park welcomes day visitors between 7am and 6pm.
Those wanting to maximize their enjoyment of the parks’ attractions and activities can overnight in one of the accommodation options provided or stay in a nearby lodge or bed and breakfast.
Accommodation at Augrabies Falls
There is only one camp at Augrabies Falls National Park offering 120 beds, plus campsites.
The studio chalets accommodate two people and have everything you need for a self-catering holiday, including en-suite bathrooms with a shower only.
The family cottages have a full kitchen, with a two-plate stove and accommodate up to four people in two bedrooms.
Two rustic gorge cottages sleep two people each located ten minutes from the main camp overlooking spectacular scenes. These small rooms have a braai area and a basic kitchen with a fridge, stove, and utensils for two.
Over half of the six-sleeper campsites have electricity and they all have access to communal ablutions, laundry, ironing room, and kitchen.
Activities at Augrabies Falls
Most of the things to do near Augrabies Falls involve appreciating this unique environment and dramatic scenery. Try some of these top activities during your visit to Augrabies Falls:
- Hiking to the top of Moon Rock to admire the views
- Seeing the falls lit up from 8pm to 10pm nightly
- Hiking to the top of the Swart Rante to see amazing landscape contrasts
You can easily access the falls via an extensive web of wheelchair-friendly boardwalks radiating from the main camp or take a drive to scenic viewpoints at Ararat and Echo Corner.
The 5 km circular Dassie Trail is ideal for hikers wanting to immerse themselves in these fascinating landscapes. The challenging 3-day Klipspringer Hike meanders into the heart of the gorge and back again.
There are three swimming pools within the camp offering opportunities for respite, fun, and relaxation.
You’ll find plenty of small-town charm in the area. Some of the best ways to enjoy it include:
- Hot air balloon trips
- Wine and brandy tastings
- The Riemvasmaak hot springs
- Mountain biking
Tour operators in the area also offer white water rafting tours among the turbulent waters of the Orange River.
Dining at Augrabies Falls
The rest camp’s fully-licensed restaurant offers consistent comfort-food styled meals like hamburgers, toasted sandwiches, pies, venison and steaks.
Naturally, you can enjoy a braai at your accommodation, and there is a well-stocked shop on site for daily necessities.
Most of the surrounding lodges offer opportunities to try some of the local fare like skilpaadjies and pofadders. Dried fruit is one of the main agricultural products in the area and you’ll find plenty of varieties available at local stores and roadside stalls.
Fauna and Flora at Augrabies Falls
The Quiver Tree is one of the stand-out features of the Augrabies Falls National Park. This tree aloe gets its name from the local folk who used to use its branches to create quivers for their hunting arrows.
There are sixty-nine other types of shrubs, grass, and trees in the park including camel thorns, sweet thorn trees, Shepherd’s trees, Namaqua figs, and jacket-plum trees.
Birds and baboons love to sip on the trees’ copious sweet nectar during the winter flowering season.
Wildlife isn’t abundant in this dry region, but you may see Hartmann’s mountain zebra, klipspringer, and giraffes while walking and driving around the park
Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle is a highlight for birders, but you’ll also find plenty of other species to check off your list.
The park’s bird list comprises 280 species including Ludwig’s bustards, Karoo long-billed larks, Dusky sunbird, Kalahari scrub-robins, Kori bustards, Pale-winged starlings, and pale chanting goshawks.
What to Pack
You’ll need all the usual necessities for African travel while exploring Augrabies Falls National Park. These include:
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Sunglasses, lip balm, moisturizing lotion, and sunblock
- Swimming costume and towels
- A map and guidebook, or the latest app
- Camera, memory cards, and chargers
Always travel with enough drinking water for your party. It gets hot in this part of the world. You’ll need a torch for walking around the camp at night.
Travelling to Augrabies Falls
Upington Domestic Airport is the closest airport to the Falls, and there are daily domestic flights from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airport. You can hire a car at the airport in Upington for the 250 km trip to the park, or charter a private flight to an airstrip 5km from the park.
If you prefer to travel to Augrabies Falls by road, you can take the following routes:
From Cape Town
- Take the N7 north to Springbok
- Turn onto the N14 towards Kakamas and Upington
- Turn left onto the R359 about 10km before Kakamas
- Follow the signs to the park, 39 km away
- Take the N14 through to Upington via Kuruman
- Stay on the N14 towards Kakamas
- Follow the signs to Augrabies National Park from the center of town
Explore Africa’s Top Tourist Spots
For more information on Africa’s most popular places, browse our travel guide and follow our social media pages.
Remember, if you’re planning a trip from abroad, Namibia is a great place to start your travels, book your accommodation at Arebbusch Travel Lodge in Windhoek and start your preparations.
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.