So after surviving our monkey raid, we secured the camp, and it was out to explore the park.
And can I just say, I LOVED this place.
In fact, one of my only regrets about this whole trip is that we didn’t have one more day at Augrabies. It is absolutely amazing and is centered around an enormous waterfall. It’s stunning – there in the midst of a sparse and arid landscape is this beautiful cascade and river valley:
A flood months ago washed out numerous viewing platforms, I can't imagine how high the water must have been:
Here’s a little bit about the park from its official website:
“Few sights are as awesome or a sound as deafening as water thundering down the 56m Augrabies Waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood. The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of Great Noise, as this powerful flow of water is unleashed from rocky surroundings characterised by the 18km abyss of the Orange River Gorge. Picturesque names such as Moon Rock, Ararat and Echo Corner are descriptive of this rocky region. Klipspringer and kokerboom (quiver trees) stand in stark silhouette against the African sky, silent sentinels in a strangely unique environment where only those that are able to adapt ultimately survive. The 55 383 hectares on both the northern and southern sides of the Orange River provide sanctuary to a diversity of species, from the very smallest succulents, birds and reptiles to springbok, gemsbok and giraffe.”
While at the falls we saw these technicolored lizards, called Broadley's Flat Lizard:
Then we took a drive and enjoyed the vistas:
Here's a little hyrax hiding from the hot sun:
Though they look like rodents, Hyraxes (known as "dassies" in South Africa) are actually the elephant's closest living relative!
We stopped to hike up “Moon Rock”:
We stopped at 2 more picnic spots (the only places you can get out of your car in this part of the park), where we saw more of the river, amazing views and some incredible rock formations:
Here's a female Boardley's Flat Lizard:
And Aaron discovered a new kind of sun-basking lizard. She’s called Lazidous minne-salvadoreñius:
And then we kept driving. This landscape is a bit like being on Mars:
We didn’t see many animals (we were out in the middle of the day when most animals take it easy in the shade) but we did see this tiny springbok with its momma:
Then, after a quick snack back at camp, we went on a hike, and OH. OH. Just OH. Best hike of my life, ever. Mostly because we lost the trail and ended up scrambling over huge rocks, scuffing our knees and generally feeling like kids again!
And the most amazing part was that we stumbled onto another waterfall! We didn’t even know it existed and I swear, I almost cried. These pictures do it NO justice. Sincerely, it was as beautiful a place and moment as I can remember. I felt like I had discovered a little private Shangri-La. There was not another soul in sight and it was just … SIGH. No words.
The next morning we were off to the Kalahari … where the amazingness continued …