5 am wake up, I had a fair way to go to meet the Oranje River at its most spectacular scene, Augrabis Falls. Some more dusty sand tracks and I eventually got to the highway.
I arrived at Augrabis Falls around 10 am, and it was sweltering already. A very friendly Park warden took my details at the entrance gate. He had a bit of that Eddie Murphy coolness about him and was smitten by Zimba. You driving alone? In this zebra? He asked with a smirk on his face. I’m not alone, I got this one, I said. He shook his head, and gave me the papers he filled in. After a quick check in at reception, I grabbed my gear, soaked my T Shirt in water and went off to the main falls.
An easy stroll along a fenced track and then, an impressive sight. I could hear the Falls way before I got there. Not really much to work with from a photo point of view, but I was happy with the outcome.
There was another track, which started from the camping area, leading to Twin Falls.
Passing the chalets, just like an oasis, there was a swimming pool, clean and cool. For residents only, the sign said. Yeah right, I thought, no-one is gonna keep me outta this one. There wasn’t anybody around anyhow.
Even the local lizard lounged on the sun chair. Refreshed and re soaked my dry shirt, I made my way passed the camping area. This one had lots of shade and green grass, showers, kitchen and washing machines. Quite impressed, I marched on. My feet were cooking in my hiking boots already. My T-shirt was already dry again by the time I got to Twin Falls.
These granite boulders soak in the heat of the sun and store the heat like coal. What a sight, looking across the canyon. Two fairly large waterfalls plummet water in different sections of the canyon. There was no way of getting closer.
The waters carved a few canyons over time, like fingers of a hand. Sitting down on those hot stones was not an option, it felt like my boots started melting. I couldn’t stay any longer, it was just too hot all around me. Passing that pool again, and still no one around, just left me with one option. Bliss. I didn’t want to get out, but was getting hungry. I drove off to the day use area, where a few families gathered in, or around the pool. Lots of shade, green grass, and braai facilities.
The tricky thing here was that the local Vervet monkey family enjoyed their Sunday there too.
Lots of youngsters frolicking around, mothers doing their cleaning business and others trying their luck on snatching food from unaware visitors. It is fun watching them with others, not so much when they jump in your car. I couldn’t leave my open doors unattended for a split second, even the windows were rolled up. A few times, some got into Zimba but I was quick to chase them out again. On top of the roof, we had a Mexican stand off. Quite amusing though.
I got the braai started, and cooked a nice piece of steak on it. A bowl of carrot salad to go with, yum. I left the bowl unattended just for a split seconds, when I heard it fall to the ground. Some cheeky monkey grabbed it and spilled it over the bench. Others joined and they really liked it. They didn’t get my steak though.
A few mongoose patrolled the edges of the picnic area, careful and shy. All in all, an entertaining afternoon, a funtastic day in the heat. Another quick swim, before setting off just before closing time. ‘My man’ the Gate warden greeted me with the same cheeky face. I thanked him and his staff for a fantastic day and great facilities. You’re the man, he said, and I hope to see you here again. Next time, bring a friend, I hate to see you alone, he said as he opened the gate. Safe journey. What a classic.
I drove of in the sunset, picking out a gravel road running parallel to the Oranje river and N 14 north. As I hoped for, I found a secluded spot right by the river, my camp for the night.
These last few days in and around this river had been challenging, hot, dry and dusty, but oh so much fun. It was all about this oasis in the desert, which has been a lifeline for me. I passed the Oranje river first time in northern Lesotho, were it originates from. 2200 km’s further west, it is the life line of this dessert.