South Africa is home to some of the most powerful and beautiful waterfalls in the world. Among their number is what is recognised as the second tallest waterfall on the planet, and at least one of the few known waterfalls in the world that empty directly into the ocean.
Perhaps the best known area for waterfalls in South Africa is the Sabie Waterfalls Route in Mpumalanga province. It’s said there are more waterfalls here than anywhere else in the country. We’ll take a look at a sample of the best known South African waterfalls here, before turning our attention citywards. As well as waterfalls in Cape Town, we’ll explore the waterfalls in Johannesburg. So, “wat-er” we waiting for? Let’s go.
Sabie Waterfalls Route | Mpumalanga
The highest concentration of waterfalls in South Africa is said to be found along the Sabie Waterfalls Route. Centred around the town of Sabie in the Mpumalanga province, the route is said to be 40 to 60 miles long and takes in an impressive cluster of South African waterfalls, including:
The Mac-Mac Falls are believed to have been named after the Scottish miners who came to the area in search of gold in the 1870s.
Another example of one of the waterfalls of South Africa named in relation to the gold rush, this time for German miners, is found near the small town of Graskop. The 260-foot high Berlin Falls is a horsetail type waterfall.
Named after Portuguese miners, this is where Lisbon Creek dives some 308 feet over a cliff.
Lone Creek Falls
Located along the Blyde River, the waters of Lone Creek Falls plummet over a sheer drop down approximately 230 feet into the pool below.
Tugela Falls | KwaZulu-Natal
As well as being the tallest of all the waterfalls in South Africa, Tugela Falls are also famed as the second-highest waterfalls in the world. Marking the point where the Tugela River plummets off the cliffs of the Drakensberg Mountains, the waters drop for a total of 3,110 feet, their longest single fall an impressive 1,350 feet. This waterfall is located within the Royal Natal National Park, which offers several viewing points from which to see it. It’s best seen after a heavy rain, when the river is flowing at its strongest.
Howick Falls | KwaZulu-Natal
Legend has it that the vast horse-serpent chimera known as Inkanyamba inhabits the pool of this 310-foot plunge waterfall on the Umgeni River. Originally known as KwaNogqaza or “Place of the Tall One”, Europeans called it Howick Falls.
Waterfall Bluff | Eastern Cape
The steep coastal cliffs of the Wild Coast are home to one of the rarest of the waterfalls of South Africa and the world. Waterfall Bluff is a dramatic cataract that drops directly into the Indian Ocean. Mfihlelo Falls is another nearby waterfall that does the same.
Augrabies Falls | Northern Cape
In one of the least-populated parts of the country, set within a national park that takes its name, is the rugged spectacle of Augrabies Falls. Taking more of a tumble than a fall, this waterfall is where the Orange River drops around 183 feet.
Waterfalls in Cape Town
There are a surprising number of waterfalls in Cape Town and around it, particularly in nature reserves and parks. On the slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is home to both the Cecilia and Skeleton Waterfalls. Part of the Skeleton Stream, Skeleton Falls traverses the granite rocks and is particularly impressive after a bout of rain. Another excellent example is the Admiral’s Waterfall in Simon’s Town.
As well as those within Cape Town, there are several South African waterfalls to explore at parks and reserves within easy reach. Some of the most popular examples are found at Crystal Pools. Located in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, a protected area around 50 miles southeast of the city, this series of cascading pools, connected by crystal-clear mountain streams, are peppered with falls. And, slightly further east along the coast, there is Disa Falls at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
Waterfalls in Johannesburg
As well as being the largest city in South Africa, there are also a number of waterfalls in Johannesburg. Amongst the most popular of these is Witpoortjie Falls. This rugged cascade is located on the outskirts of the city within the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. The waterfall has also long been famous for another natural wonder, a pair of Verreaux Eagles, residents on a nearby ridge for over three decades.
The Waterfalls of South Africa
South African waterfalls are not only plentiful, but include some of the world’s most unique natural wonders, and rank among the most picturesque natural sights of this fascinating nation.