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South Africa

Your world in one place

Text and pictures: Kate Collins. Article from the Summer 2013/2014 issue of Wild Magazine.

The short hiking trails in the Augrabies Falls National Park are an excellent way to explore this bewitching landscape of rocks, plants and wildlife. 

The setting sun shows off the landscape in all its beautyThere is no shortage of activities to try in Augrabies, but be sure not to miss the 6,5km Dassie Trail that starts at the edge of the park’s campsite. It’s an interpretive trail, an introductory guide to the region’s flora, fauna and geology.

We began the trail to the haunting cry of an African fish eagle overhead, the graceful bird soaring on thermals while swallows darted and swooped across the sky. The animals on land were as entertaining, with a handful of dassies scurrying between the rocks, like kids playing hide and seek while the adults sunned themselves.

One of the things to look out for is the distinctive shepherds-tree Boscia albitrunca, which is widespread in the region. In dry areas the tree is known as the ‘tree of life’ because of its many uses. The tree’s leaves provide a nourishing fodder for animals and its roots are used to make meal for porridge and coffee. Known as witgatkoffie, the coffee is made from the white roots that give the tree its Afrikaans name witgatboom.

Moon Rock is another attraction along the route. The walk up the steep rock surface is optional, but once at the top you’ll have a rewarding view of the chocolate-brown landscape and the deep gorge beyond. We spent some time at the top enjoying a picnic, before making our way back to the campsite.

In summer it is best to hike the Dassie Trail in the early morning or evening to avoid the heat. Take along a hat, suncream, walking shoes and enough water.Another way to explore the park is on the newly opened Ebony Trail, which starts from the main camp. The trail winds through a dense covering of trees, giving you the feeling of being transported into a mini forest, far removed from the dry and rocky landscape typical of the area.

Specific trees are marked along the way, with signboards including the common and scientific name of each species. We passed buffalo thorn, Namaqua fig, camel thorn, common spike thorn, wild asparagus, white karee and the ebony tree, the inspiration for the trail’s name.

The trail is an easy and fun way to learn about trees, especially as names are repeated along the way. There are a few spots where you may need to duck underneath low hanging branches over the neatly constructed boardwalks.

Good to know: In summer it is best to hike the Dassie Trail in the early morning or evening to avoid the heat. Take along a hat, suncream, walking shoes and enough water. The Ebony Trail is a great way to escape the heat in the shade of large trees.

Trip planner

Trails are free, but the standard conservation fee applies (Wild Card members free).

Contact: Park 054-452-9200, SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111

More info on the quaint town of Augrabies More info on the Green Kalahari area


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