A waterfall is a rapid downpour of water falling from a height, usually happens when a flowing body of water falls over a precipice or cliff. The presence of natural waterfalls in any country makes it a tourism destination for tourists. And depending on how smartly the government of that country harnesses the potential of the natural phenomena, it could also become a source of internally generated revenue (IGR). Luckily for South Africa, nature has blessed the country with many waterfalls that have become great sources of tourist attraction.
Tourists who visit the Mzansi nation will be doing themselves a great disservice if they fail to add one or two South Africa waterfall sites as part of their “Must Visit” destinations in the country. To make your journey more adventurous and interesting, consider visiting one of the top five highest waterfalls the Rainbow nation boasts of. South Africa is home to up to 24 waterfalls scattered around different provinces like Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, and Gauteng.
If you have just made up your mind about visiting some of the amazing waterfalls in the country but don’t know which one would offer you the most amazing memories, this article is for you. If you want to have the best experience, you would be better off if you gain some knowledge about the waterfalls in South Africa before setting out on a trip to one. Facts like their locations, the height of the fall, the different types of waterfalls there are, etc., will help you make a satisfying choice.
Top 5 Waterfalls In South Africa
There are more than 20 waterfalls in South Africa and they are all blooming with the beauty of nature at its peak but as they say, all fingers are not equal and the same applies to these waterfalls. The top 5 waterfalls in South Africa include the following:
1. Tugela Falls
- Location: The Drakensberg in Lesotho
- Height: 3,107 feet/947 meters
- Type of Fall: Tiered
- Province: KwaZulu-Natal
- Nearest Town: Royal Natal National Park
A wonder to behold, Tugela Falls is the highest waterfall in South Africa, with a height of 946 meters. This waterfall is located in the Drakensberg of Royal Natal National Park. There is an ongoing debate about it being the highest waterfall in the world. However, it is yet to win the debate, as currently, the Angel waterfall in Venezuela is officially recognized as the highest waterfall in the world and currently ranks as number one.
If you wish to visit South Africa and want some adventure that creates a memory that you will not forget in a hurry, then visit the Drakensberg, and just before leaving, hike to the top of Tugela Falls. There are two trails through which you can get to the top of Drakensberg; the only day hiking trail starts at the Sentinel car park from Witsieshoek through Phuthadjhaba, where you can climb to the top of the Amphitheater using a two-chain ladder.
The other trail to the foot of Tugela Falls starts at the Royal Natal National Park. As soon as you get to the top of the waterfall, you can fully behold the beauty of the water as it falls down the Amphitheater. But, don’t get the urge to do a free fall from the top as it might be a fatal attempt. Tugela Falls is a home for tourists, and those who have been there before have only amazing things to say about the reception of hotels and resorts. Make plans to visit Tugela Falls on your next vacation to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
2. Elands River Falls
- Location: Emgwenya village
- Height: 490 feet/150 meters
- Type of Fall: N/A
- Province: Mpumalanga
- Nearest Town: Between Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder
Although the height of Elands River Falls is only one-fifth of Tugela Falls, it is the second-highest waterfall in South Africa – and the highest in Mpumalanga province. And in terms of tourism, it is one of the most beautiful parts of Mpumalanga province to visit. The waterfall is subtly divided into three falls, making each unique and the entire sight of the water body flowing down the cliff beautiful to behold. Another beautiful attribute of this waterfall is the vegetation that surrounds it, giving off a serene and fresh environment.
To give tourists a long-lasting memory that comes with observing the beauty of the Elands River Falls, there is an observation deck, where visitors to the site can capture the entire beauty nature has endowed Mpumalanga province through this waterfall.
The Elands River Falls is a hot spot for those who love climbing. The spot attracts climbers from all around the world who visit throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Elands River Falls is around April to October, when you have Autumn to early Spring.
3. Bridal Veil Falls
- Location: Sabie, Mpumalanga
- Height: 479 feet/146 meters
- Type of Fall: Plunge
- Province: Mpumalanga
- Nearest Town: Sabie town
Bridal Veil Falls is located on a Panorama route, which is home to many other waterfalls and is a great tourist site for day hikers. Tourists pay a nominal fee to enjoy the view of the waterfalls that got its name from its slow-flowing nature, which makes it appear like a veil.
Aside from the beautiful view of nature, there are also picnic tables around where tourists can sit for a meal. Local art vendors sell beautiful pieces of art that you can consider buying as a souvenir, which would always remind you that you visited the Bridal Veil Falls.
Also worthy of note is that the fall can be assessed with a car, and from the car park, there is a trail that passes through an indigenous forest and leads directly to the falls. This is one of the easiest access to the Bridal Veil Falls. These and many more are the reasons visitors always troop in to have a good time in the fall on a daily basis.
4. Magwa Falls
- Location: Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape
- Height: 466 feet/142 meters
- Type of Fall: N/A
- Province: Eastern Cape
- Nearest Town: Lusikisiki town
Magwa Falls is said to have similarities with the Victoria waterfalls in Zimbabwe. It is located in the middle of the last tea estate in South Africa outside Lusikisiki called Magwa Tea Plantation. The plantation occupies 1,800 hectares of land. With a tone of mystery around it, the Magwa Waterfalls curtain falls 144 meters and drops into a canyon formed by a sudden movement of the earth’s crust along with volcanic activities or geologic faults.
It is one of the countable waterfalls that are accessible despite being located on a wild coast. Other waterfalls of its kind are difficult to access, and only bold and fearless tourists usually have the courage to visit them. Close to the waterfalls, a group of volunteers called Magwa Volunteers, which started as a tour company but have grown into a community-projects center and permaculture, teach people about sustainable living to foster and sustain tourism. If you are seeking a fun and adventurous place to visit in South Africa anytime you are around the trading town of Lusikisiki, then the Magwa Waterfalls will be a great idea.
5. Lehrs Falls
- Location: KwaZulu Natal
- Height: 351 ft/107 metres
- Type of Fall: N/A
- Province: KwaZulu-Natal
- Nearest Town: KwaZulu
If you are ready for some serious adventure, and your vacation destination is anywhere around KwaZulu Natal, then you should absolutely consider visiting Lehrs Falls. Next to the waterfall is the Oribi Gorge, where you can directly experience the Oribi Gorge wildlife adventure. One of the most spectacular adventures that will leave your heart racing is the Wild Swing. It is one of the most famous swings in the world and the highest in South Africa. The moment you start swinging over the Lehrs Falls, 100 meters to the gorge below, it feels like the world is on a standstill, waiting for you to reach.
Another adventure you should absolutely consider adding to the most of things you will like to do when you visit Lehrs Falls is abseiling. Next to the waterfall, you will be dropped 110m below. The first 45m of the fall is a cliff abseil, while the next 55m is a free abseil. You may feel like jumping out of your skin in the process, but it is fun and worth the experience.
Lehrs Falls is a fun place to visit for nature lovers, nature photographers, mountain bikers, water rafters, etc. Whether you are having a vacation alone or with your romantic partner, or your family, you are sure to have a nice time at the Lehrs Falls at KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.
Here Are The Other WaterFalls In South Africa
Indeed, South Africa is blessed with nature’s beauty at its best and there seems to be no end to what you can explore in the provinces. Aside from the top five highest waterfalls in South Africa, there are other waterfalls you may want to know about. Some of these waterfalls are almost as high as the last waterfall that made it to our list of top five highest waterfalls in the country, and they include:
|Name of WaterFall||Province||River (Source)||Height (FT)|
|Augrabies Falls||Northern Cape||Orange River||184 feet|
|Bawa Falls||Eastern Cape||Qolorha River||338 feet|
|Berlin Falls||Mpumalanga||Lisbon River||260 feet|
|Doorn River Falls||Northern Cape||Doorn River|
|Howick Falls||KwaZulu-Natal||Umgeni River||312 feet|
|Karkloof Falls||KwaZulu-Natal||Karlkloof River||344 feet|
|Lisbon Falls||Mpumalanga||Lisbon River||302 feet|
|Lone Creek Falls||Mpumalanga||Sabie River||223 feet|
|Mac-Mac Falls||Mpumalanga||Mac-Mac River||213 feet|
|Madonna and Child Falls||Eastern Cape||Thyume River||95 feet|
|Montrose Falls||Mpumalanga||Crocodile River||39 feet|
|Ncandu Falls||KwaZulu-Natal||Ncandu River|
|Sabie Falls||Mpumalanga||Sabie River||115 feet|
|The Thirty-nine Steps Falls||Eastern Cape||Thyume River||72 feet|
|Treur River Falls||Mpumalanga||Treur River|
|Witpoortjie Falls||Gauteng||Crocodile River (West)|
The Highest Waterfall In The World Is An Underwater Fall
It is called the Denmark Strait cataract. This is an under-waterfall located in the Atlantic Ocean – to the west of the Denmark Strait. This waterfall holds the record of being the highest waterfall globally as its height is measured to be 3,505 meters, that is, 11,500 feet. You might be asking how possible it is to have a waterfall undersea since everywhere is already a body of water explains the dynamics between waters of varying temperatures.
The trick here lies in the fact that cold water is denser, or has a higher density than warm water; that is why the water at the bottom of any body of water is always colder. Since it is found underwater and not aboveground, we cannot talk about tourists activities and picnics in the same breath. How the highest waterfall in the world formed undersea would make an interesting discussion. However, compared to the highest waterfall aboveground, which is the Angel Waterfall in Venezuela, the Denmark Strait cataract is more than three times the size of the Angel Falls.
Which Is The Highest Waterfall In The World (Aboveground)?
Officially, the highest waterfall in the world (on land) is Angel Falls, located in Venezuela. The natural phenomenon is sitting on the site of the Canaima National Park, the second-largest national park in the South American country. Also known as the Kerepakupai Merú, the Agel Falls have a bit of mystery about it. To date, the river source of the Angel Falls has remained unclear. However, it flows in the Carrao River beneath it.
It gained the reputation for being the world’s tallest waterfall, measuring about 979 meters high. The site leading to the fall was occupied by the native Kamarakotos Pómon tribe, who revered the fall, believing some evil spirits controlled it. However, it was first sighted by American gold prospector James Crawford Angel (popularly know as Jimmy Angel) in 1933 but began to attract international interest in 1937.
A park – Canaima National Park – was created around the waterfall in 1962, which served as the gateway to the fall. The Canaima National Park boasts amazing wildlife and is only accessible by air. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.
If you are a lover of nature and have plans of taking a trip, why not pick one of these waterfalls for your next adventure.