Bushmanland – Augrabies Falls National Park

About the Birding

Although most visitors to the park seldom venture further than the river after viewing the spectacular falls, birding around the campsite, neighbouring rocky ridges and the parks arid plains can also be very rewarding, especially for those searching for typical Karoo specials.

The wooded campsite (-28.5929, 20.3358) is a great place to begin ones search, and here typical arid bushveld species can be sought, such as Pririt Batis, Orange-river White-eye, Red-billed Firefinch, Black-chested Prinia, Namaqua Warbler, Acacia Pied Barbet, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Pale-winged Starling, Ashy Tit, Violet-eared Waxbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and many more.

Although difficult to locate and with a small distribution within South Africa itself, the appealing Rosy-faced Lovebird can occasionally be found here too.

The next logical place to find oneself is at the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River (-28.5918, 20.3406), and here you’re likely to encounter a number of new species in the gorge. The area plays host to resident and breeding Verreaux’s Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Black Stork, whilst both dark and light morph Booted Eagle frequent the skies here too. Keeping your eyes to the sky can yield a variety of Hirundines; these aerial feeders congregate here often and with a little patience you’re likely to pick out African Black Swift, the large and bicoloured Alpine Swift, Brown-throated Martin and Rock Martin and a variety of swallows.

The park has a small network of roads, and those passing through vegetated rocky habitat can yield specials like Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, often picked up on call in the early mornings. Echo Corner (-28.5489, 20.2860), Oranjekom and Swartrand viewpoints are suitable places to look, and here you might also pick up both Short-toed Rock Thrush and Mountain Wheatear.

For those with time, by expanding your search away from the river you might be rewarded with a variety of larks, such as Stark’s Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark and Spike-heeled Lark. Grey-backed Sparrowlark and Black-eared Sparrowlark also occur here, the latter only moving into the area in wetter seasons. Careful scanning of large open flats and gentle slopes can produce Ludwig’s Bustard and Double-banded Courser, while vegetated areas house Namaqua Sandgrouse, the rather drab Chat Flycatcher and more animated Rufous-eared Warbler amongst many others.

Birds aside, the park is a great place to search for African Wild Cat, Bat-eared Fox, Aardwolf and Small Spotted Genet on night drives, whilst Leopard are also known to occur here. Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Giraffe, Eland, Springbok, Greater Kudu and Gemsbok roam the park and the rocky gorge is a great place to look for the colourful Augrabies Flat Lizard and many other reptiles.

Key species:

Burchell’s Courser, Double-banded Courser, Ludwig’s Bustard, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Chat Flycatcher, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Pririt Batis

About the Birding Site

Situated along the Orange River Gorge, this scenic yet underrated national park not only allows one access to the famous Augrabies Falls, but also plays host to a variety of habitats, from wooded thorny-bushveld, to expansive rock ridges and gravel plains, each with a unique subset of special Karoo type fauna and flora.

Key species:

Burchell’s Courser, Double-banded Courser, Ludwig’s Bustard, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Chat Flycatcher, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Pririt Batis

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Tariffs:
South African Citizens & Residents (with ID): R59 per adult/day, R29 per child/day
SADC Nationals (with passport): R118 per adult/day, R59 per child/day
Standard Conservation Fee: R236 per adult/day, R118 per child/day

Day visitors are permitted from 07:00-18:00, and day visitor facilities are provided.
Office Hours are 07:00-19:00.

Other related information:

Augrabies National Park is situated in a semi-arid region, due to this, extreme temperature fluctuations can be experienced. Pack sufficient warm and light clothing to accommodate for this.
This low rainfall area (124mm) receives its rain during the summer months (November to April).
Peak Summer Temperatures (January/February) can exceed 41°C.
Winter Temperatures (May-August) are a cool 20°C, often dropping below 0°C at night.

Augrabies National Park offers a number of activities, which include:

  • Waterfall viewing points
  • Self-drive game viewing
  • Hiking Trails
  • Night Drives
  • Mountain Biking
  • 4×4 Wilderness Routes

Important information:

  • Use of drones within the national park is prohibited.
  • No ATM facilities
  • Fuel can be purchased on site (subject to availability).
  • No pets are permitted within the National Park.
  • All firearms are to be declared upon entry.
  • Although this is a low risk malaria area, consult your doctor/chemist.
  • In case of emergency, nearest medical and police services are in Kakamas (40km away)
  • Entrance on motorcycles is permitted.

The rest camp has two wheelchair accessible bungalows, with ramps and sit down showers. The shop, tea area, information displays and the falls themselves are accessible by wheelchair, but the falls will likely require assistance as the trail leading to the walkway is uneven. Other viewpoints in the park are not particularly wheelchair friendly, nor is the restaurant which is located upstairs and the camp swimming pool lacks hand rails.

Augrabies National Park can be accessed by air, via Upington airport which is situated 120km away. Car rental facilities are located at the airport and within the city itself.

Directions:
Accessing the park from Cape Town, one takes the N7 north towards Springbok, taking the N14 from Springbok to Kakamas and Upington. Roughly 10km before reaching Kakamas (-28.7596, 20.5349), take a left turn onto the R359, following signposts for a further 39km until reaching the park entrance (-28.6175, 20.3492).

Travelling from Johannesburg, take the N14 to Kuruman, and then to Upington. Continuing on the N14 towards Kakamas, passing through the town. 10km outside of town (-28.7596, 20.5349), take a right turn onto the R359, following signposts for a further 39km until reaching the park entrance (-28.6175, 20.3492).

All maps for Augrabies National Park can be found here

Recommended accommodation nearby:
There are a number of private Bed & Breakfasts and lodges in the area, which are all available through online booking sites. Both camping and chalet type accommodation can be located within the park itself. At present, there are no BirdLife Recommended Accommodations listed for this area.

Local guide information:
There are no community bird guides available for this site. However, there are a number of BirdLife Recommended Tour Operators that can supply guides or guided tours for this site, Unearth Safaris.

Text prepared by:
Justin Rhys Nicolau (Unearth Safaris)

Key species:

Burchell’s Courser, Double-banded Courser, Ludwig’s Bustard, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Chat Flycatcher, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Pririt Batis

Contact details:

Augrabies National Park
Website: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies/

For reservations, one can contact:
Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0) 12 428 9111
Email: reservations@sanparks.org

For enquiries, please use:
Tel: +27 (0) 54 452 9200
Email: augrabiesres@sanparks.org

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