Chasing Waterfalls in South Africa: A Guide to Five of the Best airport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar

Chasing Waterfalls in South Africa: A Guide to Five of the Best 

Marvel at South Africa's beautiful waterfalls such as Augrabies Falls
Marvel at South Africa's beautiful waterfalls such as Augrabies Falls | © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Waterfalls will never get old: anyone who says otherwise is lying. They exist as a reminder of the sheer power and beauty of Mother Nature, and they serve as the ultimate backdrop for practicing mindfulness – or, failing that, they make for a fantastic picture. Here are five to plan your visit around when heading to South Africa.

Mac Mac Falls

Natural Feature
Mac Mac Falls, Mpumalanga
© David South / Alamy Stock Photo
There’s a couple of ways you can do Mac Mac Falls in Mpumalanga: you can either see the falls from up above or down below. If you’re feeling adventurous, canyoning to the site is a beautiful way to discover it, while the other option is to trace the panorama route, by way of a picnic. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, do both! At 65 metres (215 feet) tall and with its National Monument status, it’s worth the trip.
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Augrabies Falls

Natural Feature
Augrabies Falls, Augrabies National Park
© Greatstock / Alamy Stock Photo
Located on South Africa’s largest river, Orange River, Augrabies Falls is known for flowing at four times Niagara’s annual average, which explains the name its original Khoikhoi inhabitants gave it of ‘Ankoerebis’, meaning a ‘place of great noise’. Here, you can expect to witness water gushing from an elevation of 60m (200ft) and, if you’re lucky, it’s also where you can catch a glimpse of animals like yellow mongoose and giraffe in its namesake surrounding National Park.
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Howick Falls

Natural Feature
Howick Falls
© EggImages / Alamy Stock Photo
Much like Augrabies Falls, Howick Falls in KwaZulu-Natal is also affectionately named by locals. But this time it’s in reference to its height: cascading at 95m (310ft), local Zulus call it ‘KwaNogqaza’ meaning ‘the tall one’. Locals also have their own theory about it, which stems from the restless pool at the foot of the waterfall; some say it’s the resting place of ancestors, while others talk of a giant snake-like creature. Whatever the truth, it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
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Tugela Falls

Natural Feature
Tugela falls at the top of Sentinel Hike, Drakensberge
© Robin Runck / Alamy Stock Photo
At 948m (3,110ft), Tugela Falls in KwaZulu-Natal Province is the highest waterfall in Africa, and the second highest in the world after Venezuela’s Angel Falls at 1,283m (4,210ft). It’s part of a complex web of seasonal waterfalls with five cascades, so there are multiple ways to see these falls at the Dragon’s Mountains of Royal Natal National Park. One way to get to the ‘Roof of Africa’ is to spend three days and nights hiking the Amphitheatre Slackpacking Trail (otherwise known at the Tugela Falls Hike) to reach Mont-Aux-Sources at 3,283m (10,770ft). It’s no easy feat, but something to tell the grandkids.
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Berlin Falls

Natural Feature
Berlin Falls, Mpumalanga
© Travel_Nerd / Getty Images
Not the tallest waterfall in South Africa by any means, but the highest in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, the Berlin Falls are a spectacle in their own right at 80m (265ft) tall. As is the case with Mac Mac Falls, you can reach this waterfall in the Blyde River Canyon area by the Panorama route. Once there, admire it from high up, book to abseil down it, or swim in its jade pool.
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These recommendations were updated on February 25, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.