Few sights are as wondrous as water thundering down the 56m Augrabies Waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood. Khoi people called it Aukoerebis (place of great noise) as this powerful flow is unleashed from rocky surroundings characterized by the 18km abyss of the Orange River Gorge.
Picturesque names such as Echo Corner, Ararat and Moon Rock are descriptive of this rocky region. Klipspringer and kokerboom stand in stark silhouette against the African sky in a strangely unique environment where only those that are able to adapt ultimately survive.
The 28 000 hectares on both the southern and northern sides of the Orange River provide sanctuary to a variety of species, from birds and reptiles to springbok, the very smallest succulents, gemsbok and the endangered black rhino.
Augrabies Falls National Park is a national park located around the Augrabies Falls, about 120 km west of Upington in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. It was established in 1966.
The Augrabies Falls National Park covers an area of 820 km² and stretches along the Orange River. The area is very dry. The waterfall is about 60 metres high and is awe-inspiring when the river is in flood. The gorge below the falls averages about 240 m deep and runs for 18 kilometres. The gorge provides an impressive example of erosion into a granitic basement.
There are many deposits of alluvial diamonds along the Orange River and legend has it that the biggest cache of diamonds in the world lies in the swirl-hole eroded into the granite at the foot of the waterfall by the thundering waters.
The most characteristic plant in the park is the giant aloe known locally as the quiver tree or kokerboom. It is perfectly adapted to the dry semi-desert rocky areas found in the Nama-Karoo, able to withstand the extreme temperatures and the infertile soil. This tree, which grows up to five metres high, gets its name from the fact that the Bushmen used the soft branches to make quivers for their arrows. The eye-catching silhouette of the quiver tree is typical of this part of Northern Cape landscape. When the tree flowers in the winter flocks of birds are attracted to their copious nectar, and baboons can be seen tearing the flowers apart to get the sweet liquor.