Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Augrabies Falls

We arrived at Augrabies Falls National Park unsure of our exact plans, other than that we were going to camp there that night. We had read about a three-day hike called the Klipspringer Trail, and asked about it at the reception desk. It was described as a popular hike of moderate difficulty. Upon inquiring about availability to start the next morning, we found out there was room! In fact, on this popular hike we were the only ones signed up! (The same thing happened at Blyde River, too.)

Before setting up camp we walked down to the falls the park is famous for. Here it is, Augrabies Falls, the world’s sixth largest waterfall:

A fair amount of the boardwalk was washed out from big floods this February. It is hard to imagine the water levels rising that high, and must have been quite a sight to behold.

At first glance this region seemed as if it would be fairly monotonous, but each day on the trail proved to be much more varied than expected. The semi-arid regions are usually quite beautiful to look at but don’t hold people’s attention for long. It takes a close eye to notice the subtleties and appreciate the fine details, so hiking through it was the perfect way to accomplish this.

The days included rock-hopping over boulders, walking past koppies (basically giant mounds of rocks), avoiding koppies with large baboons, sandy, dry riverbeds, and numerous wildflowers. On the second day we dropped down into the gorge where the Orange River flows and followed along on the banks for several kilometers. The boulder-hopping was fun, but very taxing on the body.

Anne with the Orange River

The trail was incredibly well-marked with little green signs, white arrows painted on the rocks, and rock cairns. With the terrain being what it was, this was essential. Otherwise, you could get lost very easily. As soon as one trail marker was passed, we instantly looked for the next one so the trail became a sort of connect-the-dots adventure.

Quiver Tree with Weaver Nest

Scary but beautiful desert flower

The first two days of hiking only took us about five and half hours each, so we had plenty of down time to read, play cribbage, and most importantly, plan Namibia. We only have the car until June 29, so every minute counts.

The trail was a great little desert getaway. We spent the hours scanning the horizons for kudu, springbok, klipspringer, eland, and giraffes. On the last day (ironically, while on a dirt road for a brief while), Anne spotted two klipspringer, but the giraffes and other ungulates completely evaded us.
Tomorrow it is on to the Kalahari Desert where black-maned lions await us…hopefully.

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