During February 2021 the Augrabies waterfalls was again a spectacular sight. The mighty Orange River and the Augrabies waterfalls in full force, is definitely worth the trip and worth seeing. Although it is not exactly a “Victoria Falls”, this unique destination is still one of the most visited tourist attractions in South Africa. Here is a quick travel guide with everything you need to know, to enjoy a fabulous trip to the Augrabies Falls.
The name “Augrabies” is derived from the Nama word “Aukoerebis” , meaning “Place of Great Noise.” The name was given in reference to the Orange Rivers’ water thundering down the 56 m (183 feet) water Fall in the green Khalahari.
Especially when in full flood: In my opinion that would be the best time to visit, as only then you can really enjoy the full impact and force behind this waterfall in the desert. However from March to May is normally the best time of the year to visit. You’ll have lower day temperatures, but the falls should still be beautiful. From the end of November to February, you can expect extremely hot days. (We are talking more than 40°C in the shade.
Going early morning is a very good idea as you’ll then skip the heat of the day and might also be lucky to skip the lines at the ticket office. However for photos, sunset is definitely the best time. Even when the river is at its lowest, the sun catching the water and the granite rocks makes for stunning photo opportunities. Whenever you visit the park, always stay on the walkways.
The operating times are from 07:00 to 19:00.
When planning the trip remember to pack lots of water and ice and then some extra. Upington gets really warm and you might think one bottle of water per person is enough. However I would suggest taking lots of extra water as it can easily reach temperatures around 40°C during summer. Although there is a small shop on sight, you will not regret taking a picnic basket or cooler bag packed with cold drinks and snacks. Buying the local watermelon and grapes is a fabulous option.
Take sunblock and a hat as well as comfortable walking shoes, so you can easily walk the trail mapped out by a boardwalk. Walk to where you can feel the ‘rain’ from the waterfall on your face. Yes you will get wet and yes you might feel like its strangely raining in the middle of the dessert, but it is a fantastic experience. (Note: you might think of taking your waterproof gopro or camera and leaving everything that can get wet in your car.)
In the park you can see rock formations and explore viewpoints like Moon Rock, Echo Corner, Oranjekom, Fonteintjie and Ararat. Along the way you might spot the famous lizards spending lazy days in the sun, a dassie or two and even a mongoose. The park has 47 mammal species which includes the springbok, gemsbok, kudu, klipspringer, giraffe, aardwolf, leopard, zebra and wild cats. Furthermore you will spot the unusual ‘kokerboom’ (quiver trees).
Moonrock is a huge gneiss (pronounced ‘nice’) dome shaped rock. Take a photo standing on top of one of the biggest attractions in the park.
Echo Corner: Like in Switzerland, try your best yodelling or just scream ‘Halloooooo’ to experience the echo of your voice.
Ararat: Another view point capturing the gorge with its water erosion is beautiful.
Arrow Point: You can take a walk towards Arrow Point passing the Twin Falls on your way. A gentle fall, followed just below, by a smaller fall, but still beautiful. Arrow Point is where the two gorges meet, a short walk (2.5 km) from the main camp. From here you will have one of the best views back up the gorge into which the main falls drop. It is definitely worth the short hike.
The area offers the Klipspringer, Ebony, Gorge and Dassie hiking trails.
Klipspringer trail (click here for brochure): This is a three-day, two-night self-guided trail. You have to book in advance and this trail is closed between October and March due to the heat. (You see what I mean…? It gets hot around here.)
Ebony and Gorge trails: These are shorter walks with beautiful views.
Dassie nature trail (click here for brochure): This circular 6.5 km route takes you from the main camp to Arrow Point. You will also experience the ‘Potholes’ (no this is not holes in the road), as well as Moonrock.
MAPS are available at reception.
There are various Game Drives available in the area as well as guided night drives in the Augrabies Falls National Park (min. of 4 people). You can enquire and book by contacting the Augrabies National Park:
You have the option of flying to Upington. Easily book flights to Upington Airport (UTN):
From Cape Town you will fly to Johannesburg and then from there to Upington. You might consider rather doing a self-drive experience and explore all the beauty of the Western and Northern Cape along the way.
From Johannesburg O R Thambo Airport (JNB) you can fly direct to and from Upington.
From Upington you can also get a direct flight to Cape Town International Airport (CPT).
Search and compare the available flight options: Book your flight
So this is where I would recommend any place with air-conditioning and / or a swimming pool.
Here are a few good suggestions:
Augrabies Falls Lodge & Camp features a restaurant, a fitness Centre and a bar. It is situated only 6 km from the Augrabies Waterfall.
All units feature air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. There is a fully equipped private bathroom with shower.
You might also consider staying in Upington and just traveling for a day trip to the falls. (As it is only a 1h 30 min drive.)
Should this be your favorite option, here are a few places to stay in Upington: