Fikile Hlatshwayo is the author of Blacks DO Caravan (Jacana, 2016). The book tells the story of a South African family’s travels to 60 caravan parks across nine provinces, raking up 25 000km in the process. Blacks DO Caravan aims to inspire South Africans to take time out of their hectic schedules, spend time with their families and discover the beauty right outside their doorsteps. This is an account of the family's journey in the province of extremes ...
Augrabies Falls National Park is one of my favourite national parks, situated in the Northern Cape province about 120km west of Upington. The first impression I got when I arrived with my family at the park was, “Wow, I have never seen so many natural rocks in my life.”
The rocky landscape is so unique and enchanting, with quiver trees dominating the area. We couldn’t resist but stop to take amazing photos of this unique landscape. At reception, we were warmly welcomed and were given information about the park.
We camped in Augrabies Falls and it was the most memorable experience for us as a family. The campsites are incredibly large in size and some sites are well-positioned under tall trees. The ablution blocks are spotless and well equipped. We were extremely thrilled with our setup and off we went to the restaurant for a delicious lunch.
Augrabies Falls National Park has the most magical waterfalls, the largest I have seen in South Africa. The nights are so romantic, with millions of stars shining so bright I used to take our sleeping bags and lie down with my children to count the shooting stars.
There are three incredible trails in the park – the Ebony, Dassie and Klipspringer trails. The 2.8km Ebony trail is in the forest with a few streams to jump over and the path is well maintained. I enjoyed running there because of the shade from the trees. I had to jump over some branches and fallen trees, go through thin trees and under low branches – it felt like I was doing an intense obstacle challenge. I loved it!
The Dassie nature trail, accessible from the campsite, was the best, with side tracks to “Moon Rock” and “Arrow Point”. This 5km trail signifies beauty! Even though at times I felt lazy, thinking of the scenery and the sunrise shining on the rocky arid grassland, I found myself singing to the tunes of the birds and running gently to enjoy the wonders of nature. Reaching “Arrow Point”, where one sees the river flowing from both the right and left sides of the magnificent gorge, was like a fairy tale. You are in full view of the waterfall “Twin Falls”, made up of two huge rock pools flowing into the river. It is extremely breathtaking!
We visited the “Moon Rock” with a view beyond beauty. Looking down the horizon, we spotted two giraffes charming and attracting each other. They were performing a “love dance” and ended tying their necks around each other. Love was in the air! Lesedi, my daughter, said “Ooohlalala! Look at the beautiful sunset!” and I wondered whether the sunset played a role in stimulating the giraffes. The “Moon Rock” is definitely a must-visit and you do feel like you are on the moon. It is an awesome place!
We also drove to the Echo Corner, where you scream and your voice produces a long-lasting echo. Lesedi and Leo enjoyed the echoes while we were blown away by the spectacular views. We spotted klipspringers and the scenery is simply out of this world!
Augrabies Falls is a place of great noise as previously acknowledged by the Khoisan people. I do agree with this notion – the 56m Augrabies Waterfall is miraculous. The falls flow from the Orange River and cascade down into several water streams. As they splash into the 18km gorge with such force, I felt like the ancestral spirits were shaking me.
The power of the water is so captivating as you stand on the beautiful wooden boardwalks elevated above the falls. The boardwalk is long and takes you up and down the gorge in full view of the falls. We used to come in the evenings to listen to the waterfall and enjoy the amazing clear sky filled with twinkling stars. This is a place to count endless shooting stars in full view of the rich Milky Way. Don’t forget your sleeping bag, snacks, chocolate and ice-cold drinks! The rest I leave to your imagination ...