Augrabies Falls National Park
In 1954 the national Parks Board was asked to proclaim the Augrabies Falls a national park. The request was in priciple approved in 1955, however, the department of water affairs objected to the proclamation and after a long period of negiotiations, the park was evenatually proclaimed in 1966.
The park currently covers an ares of 55 hectares.
The original human inhabitants in the region, the Khoi, named Augrabies Falls 'Akurabies', which means 'the place of great noise'. This name only fits to the Main Falls; the remainder of the 820 km² park is extremely quiet. The geographic location makes Augrabies one of the least visited parks, but it's rocky desert environment makes it one of the most beautiful areas in Southern Africa.
The gorge is about 200 metres deep, however, the Augrabies main Falls are only about 60 meters high. The gorge, created by the Orange River (in South-Africa often named 'Gariep'), is about 18 kilometers long and can be enjoyed from several viewpoints. On average, some 313 m³ of water fall down every second through Main Falls; the highest volume measured is about 14.000 m³ per second. During heavy floods, the gorge can almost completely fill up with water.
The Rock Dassie Trail
The Rock Dassie Trail is one of the populair walking trails in the Augrabies National Park. It's about five kilometres long and runs through the diverse nature in the park.
The Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
, derived from "Phragma", Greek for "fence", is found on every continent, except Antarctica. It well might have the widest distribution of all flowering plants. Although often seen as an aggressive invader, it filters water very efficiently, so proves very useful for sewerage works in Augrabies Falls Park. Much water is lost through transpiration in Common Reed.
Rock Dassies (Procavia capensis)
live on and around the rocks in the park. With their padded feet that are kept moist with sweat-like secretions, they're able to quickly climb steep rocks. Dassies live in groups, normally containing one dominant male and many females and juveniles. They are territorial - dominant males are known to return to their old territory when moved to other areas. Rock Dassies reveal their presence by the white streaked urine stains on rocks. Crystallised urine was traditionally used as a medicine (Hyracium) in Southern Africa.
Dead plants and tree trunks can lie around for years without being broken down. Most important decomposers of this dead material are Harvester termites.
The Dassie Trail also leads to several potholes. Different theories exist of how these potholes are formed. Theories include glacial action several thousand years ago or the occurrence of major flash floods in the past. Normally potholes are formed where rocks of a streambed do not all have the same texture and size; weaknesses may break out smaller or larger fragments. Once such irregularity has been formed, sand grains and pebbles too heavy to flow past it, get locked in the hollow. By more or less continuously moving in a circular motion with the water flow they polish the walls of the hollow, which causes the hollow to grow, which causes more pebbles to fall in...