Between Pella and Upington in the Northern Cape.
I’m sticking to the N14 as I make my way through the Northern Cape. From Pella, the first stop worth mentioning goes without saying— Augrabies Falls National Park. Easily accessible, the falls are found along the N14. From Springbok’s (Pella’s) side, it’s a left to the park just before you reach the town of Kakamas. Another 28 km further takes you straight to the park gate and another 3 km to reception and the rest camp.
Augrabies Falls National Park
Augrabies Falls was proclaimed a national park in 1966 and the 50 000ha offers visitors a chance to explore unique riverine eco- systems and, of course, the 56 meter high main falls that cascade into the granite abyss of the Orange River Gorge below.
The Falls derived their name from the Khoi word ‘Aukoerebis’ meaning ‘place of great noise’, and few sights are as awesome or sound as deafening as water thundering down the waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood.
Go for the falls, but know that its not the beginning or end of the attractions of the park. Drives take you to scenic viewpoints with descriptive names of this rocky region like Moon Rock, Ararat and Echo Corner. If you’re lucky, you might spot some giraffe, klipspringer and Hartmann’s mountain zebra while driving around.
For the hikers there is the 5 km self-guided circular route called the Dassie trail, and for those wanting more of a challenge, the Klipspringer hike which takes hikers right down into the gorge and back out again (+- 3 days).
If you’re keen to spend a couple of nights right by the falls, the park has a single rest camp with chalets and camping options. Just know that they fill up quickly, thanks to a constant demand, so make sure you book well ahead. The chalets are all fully equipped with self-catering facilities and the camp sites, all set in a wonderfully shady area, have electricity and besides the usual ablution facilities there is also a communal kitchen, laundry and ironing room. For those wanting a break from the traditional camp braai there is a fully licensed restaurant and if supplies run low you’ll find a well stocked shop.
As you make your way along this route, I also highly recommend making stops at the Riemvasmaak Hot Springs if you’re in a slightly more capable car, Die Pienk Padstal just outside of Kakamas, Die Mas Vineyards for their gin and whisky tastings, and even though I didn't end up staying there, Kameeldoring Camping looked like such a great place to potentially set up camp.
The Town Of Kakamas
Passing through Kakamas after the falls, I decided to head straight to Upington to set up camp at Oranjerus Resort, about 30 km’s from the town centre, on Kanoneiland.
They offer a range of different accommodation options, from camping to chalets, business rooms, cabins and permanent “glamping” tents. I opted for the camping option at only R175 per person per night, parked the Jeep right on the bank of the Orange River and spent three nights in absolute relaxation as the river flowed by.
Campsites are equipped with a braai, clean water, electricity and there are two great ablutions available.
Once you’re settled in at Oranjerus, there are a couple of things worth mentioning to keep you busy throughout your stay.
The Bezalel Estate offers wine and brandy tastings. They also make the most incredible cheese, fruit, preserve, meat and French-inspired platters and there’s the Garden Café kitchen and brewhouse serving breakfast, lunch and picnics in the garden. The café embodies a farm-to-table approach when ever possible and the fresh produce used are either grown on the farm or sourced from nearby farmers and local vendors. Natural and organic ingredients are preferred and creatively combined to create nourishing & delicious dishes with authentic Green Kalahari flavours.
Sakkie Se Arkie is a local-favourite, they offer breathtaking sunset river cruises where guests can look forward to 1½ hours of fantastic birding, total relaxation, good company and good music. All whilst soaking up the Kalahari sun as you drift along the magnificent Orange River. They’re situated right in the centre of town, on the riverbank and offer snacks and alcoholic beverages (to passengers over 18 years) at the on-board, fully licensed bar.
The Orange River Cellars Tasting Centre is well worth a visit. They offer a wide range of customised tastings, where guests can choose from their selection of award-winning dry white, natural sweet, dry red or dessert wines. Their delicious platters are generously filled with renowned local delicacies, but there’s an on-site bistro too if you’re in the mood for a more substantial meal.
Upon Arrival In Upington.
Lastly, I highly recommend paying Red Ox Steakhouse a visit. The view alone makes it worth a stop, with massive windows and outdoor seating area overlooking the Orange River. The food and service were both excellent and they’re obviously known for their steaks, always accompanied by one of their mouthwatering sauces. But if red meat and burgers aren’t your cup of tea, you can also choose from a variety of other options. I went with a hake, calamari and veg of the day combo and it was flawless. There’s also a selection of daily blackboard specials with more options to satisfy just about anyone.