Augrabies Falls National Park

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 arid.

The waterfall is about 60 meters 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 kilometers. The gorge provides an impressive example of erosion into a granitic basement.

The original Khoikhoi people named the waterfall Ankoerebis, meaning the “place of big noises”. The Trekboers who later settled in the area derived the name Augrabies. The name is sometimes spelt Aughrabies.

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 tree aloe (Aloidendron dichotomum) 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 meters high, gets its name from the fact that the Bushmen (San) 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.

A prominent landmark in the park is Moon Rock, a large exfoliation dome measuring around 700 meters (2,300 ft) by 100 meters (330 ft) and 30 meters (98 ft) high.