I first saw Augrabies Falls on honeymoon in 2005, the flow was around a measly 50 cumecs but I fell in love with the place. The juxtoposition of stark desert simplicity and the Orange river and waterfall, resonate with me in a deep and profound way. In 2010 we witnessed flow of around 2000 cumecs, leaving indelible memories and internal imprints. Around November last year (2022) similar volumes were recorded. I ached to be there but school and exams took priority.
In mid February we recorded over 100mm of rain over a few days and flooding occurred in some parts of South Africa. I started monitoring the government hydrology page. On 15/02/23 the flow at Blouputs (near Augrabies) was 346 cumecs. (Today 2/3/23 it is 5489 cumecs). The day before we left on our trip it was 1810. Fortunately the timing co-coincided with our school mid-term break. As the time drew nearer I began to worry, suspecting that if the flow was extra ordinary, sections of the falls may be closed off. This happened but our timing would only have been better had we arrived a few days earlier to witness the progression more (although that would have added to the cost of the trip).
While Cliff drove on Thursday afternoon, I searched for accommodation for the night. First I phoned Asame@Oppi-Rivier, the lady sounded quite distraught saying that the river water level was the 2nd highest in recorded history and her accommodation had begun to flood.
After more calls, I found well priced accommodation at Inch Cape (an inch inside the Cape), on the banks of the Vaal river in Warrenton near Kimberley. In messages exchanged with Anna-Marie the owner she kindly offered to pick up supper for us from the local hotel as load shedding would prevent us from cooking. She went well past the extra mile for us.
Morning light revealed the swift flowing river, sometimes carrying trees. An unfortunate caravan was half submerged on the neighbouring property. During the day we made a detour to visit the confluence of the Vaal and Orange rivers, it was impossible to clearly capture the 3 prongs, which merged to look like a big lake. I would like to return in future to see the confluence more clearly defined under normal conditions.
Retrospectively it would have been better to get cracking earlier in the morning and visit the confluence on the trip home. We arrived at Augrabies falls at 5pm with little time to enjoy the falls that day.
To be continued …..