- Michelle Sole
Augrabies Falls and the Klipspringer trail
The Augrabies Falls National Park or “place of the Great Noise” is a 55,000 hectare protected area surrounding the Orange River. The river divides itself into a number of channels before thundering down a 56m high waterfall and then continuing down an 18km gorge.
As well as magnificent scenery the park boasts a variety of flora and fauna. One of the best ways to explore this area is on foot. There are several hiking trails ranging from a few hours to three days. The Klipspringer Trail is great for fit individuals who want to get off the beaten track and away from civilisation for a couple of days. The hike is a total of 39.5km and takes three days. It is only open from 1st April to 14th October and it is only open to a maximum of 12 hikers at a time.
Accommodation each night is in a rustic hut with an outside toilet. Triple bunk beds are a welcome sight after a day of walking. You are back to basics here with no electricity or shower but this hardly seems to matter when you lie back and relax next to a crackling fire under the stunning night sky. Firewood and drinking water are provided at each hut, along with a braai grid and a poijie pot.
The first day is 14km long and begins at the reception area and skims around the edge of the gorge, ending at Visarent Hut (Fish Eagle Hut).
Day two, although only 13km long, is the most demanding. There is a fair amount of boulder hopping involved in dropping down into the gorge. Once at the bottom you will not be disappointed. The trail follows the Orange River for eight kilometres. You are completely alone inside a magnificent gorge with only the occasional pair of klipspringers and troop of baboons watching you from their high vantage point.
On the second evening you sleep over in the Berg Hut (Mountain Hut). The third day is 12.5km and is the least demanding (possibly because you are dreaming of the warm shower waiting for you back at camp). You cross over the Swart Rante (Black Ridges), huge black igneous jagged rocks, and then meet up with the Dassie walking trail .
Don’t miss the climb up Moon Rock; a massive exfoliation dome shaped rock which offers some of the best views around.
Start walking early in the morning as it heats up quickly; particularly down in the gorge where temperatures can reach mid 30s in May.
Carry at least three litres of water with you.
The trail books up quickly so it is important to book in advance.
Bring a towel - there is nothing like cooling off in the Orange river.
Make sure you sign in and out with reception as you depart/arrive so that the Parks board know where you are and when to expect you back.
What to bring:
First aid kit
Water purification tablets