Augrabies Falls

The Augrabies Falls is a waterfall on the Orange River, the largest river in South Africa. Since 1966 the waterfall, set in a desolate and rugged milieu, is enclosed by the Augrabies Falls National Park. The falls are around in height. Some sources cite an approximate height of 480 feet; this is actually the height from the base of the canyon to the top of the walls, not that of the falls themselves.


The original Khoikhoi residents named the waterfall "Ankoerebis" — "place of great noise" — from which the Trek Boers, who settled here later on, derived the name, "Augrabies". The last leader of area's native residents was Klaas Pofadder who lived on an island upstream of the falls, now known as Klaas Island. The first westerner to see the falls was the renegade Swedish mercenary Hendrik Jakob Wikar. He arrived at the falls in October 1778, after years long wanderings in the wilderness. When another traveler, George Thompson, was led to the falls by his Koranna guides in 1826, he named it after King George IV.


The Augrabies Falls have recorded of water every second in floods in 1988. This is over three times the average high season flow rate of Niagara Falls of per second, more than four times Niagara's annual average, and greater than Niagara's all-time record of per second. The gorge at the Augrabies Falls is deep and long, and is an impressive example of granite erosion.


Since 1966, more than 20 people have fallen to their death in the gorge, and five have been swept over the falls. A Scandinavian tourist however survived a fall into the gorge in 1979, and so did Hugo Truter who was swept over the falls in October 1981. The bodies of others were trapped in the plunge pool below and never found. Savvas Georgiades fell to his death here in 1985, and so did Dutch tourist Marie Weijs in 2000. Similarly, animals like cattle and hippopotamuses have been swept over the falls.

See Also