The Place of Great Noise, better known as Augrabies Falls National Park, has much more to offer than just the spectacular Orange River Gorge and magnificent falls. Exploring deeper into the park will reward with wildlife sightings and a rich diversity of flora, writes Wild Card member Bev Allport.

Travelling from England, I’m a regular visitor to South Africa’s national parks and Augrabies Falls National Park ranks as one of my favourites. My secret to exploring this national treasure? Taking the time to discover the park’s interior – the vast landscapes and stark geological scenery will keep you enthralled for days. But look a little closer… There’s an abundance of interesting flowers, insects, specialised bird species and mammals.

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A springbok enjoying the sun. Pictures by Bev and Andrew Allport

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What a sighting! A pair of small grey mongoose bask in the attention.

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A klipspringer poses for the camera

As we ventured onto one of the many trails around the gorge, a small herd of mountain zebra galloped across the road. Then they all lined up, cautiously inspecting their surrounds to make sure we posed no threat. During my spring visit last year, the flowers were abundant. I couldn’t stop looking at the many weird and wonderful shapes and colours, their foliage and seeds. A few quiver trees were in full bloom, showing off golden yellow florae – well worth taking some pictures.

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A quiver tree almost completely engulfed by a huge sociable weaver nest.

Birding galore

We saw many birds: a wealth of singing lark species and other great ID challenges for avid birdwatchers – have you ticked the Namaqua warbler and Karoo chat yet?

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A pale chanting goshawk flies by in search of prey.

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Stark’s lark

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Pale-winged starling

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African red-eyed bulbul

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Black-chested prinia

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Acacia pied barbet

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Booted eagle

Around the black rocks we saw klipspringer with young, and we enjoyed splendid views from Moon Rock and down the gorge. During spring and summer months the sun heats the gorge’s granite walls making for a spectacular sight all along the valley’s rocky sides.

Large numbers of Broadley’s flat lizard do not disappoint. You might not know them by name, but at Augrabies these beauties are a common sight – gaudy coloured males show off their bright orange, yellow, blue and green iridescent scaly skin. We watched them perform an amazing spectacle of leaping and catching the black flies that swarm in their millions up and down the gorge.

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Broadley’s flat lizard is also known as the Augrabies flat lizard and occurs in a very restricted area within a hundred or so kilometres of the national park.

Our self-catering chalet was well equipped and comfortable with views toward the gorge. Regular meals at Augrabies’s Shibula Restaurant were excellent and their Rafters Breakfast is a must after an early morning walk. We hope to return to this heavenly Wild Card destination before too long.

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