South Africa boasts a unique cluster of lovely waterfalls in the stunningly scenic province of Mpumalanga. One of the most dramatic is the 70m Mac Mac falls named for the feisty Scottish miners who panned for gold here in the 1870s gold rush.

Did you know?

The Mac Mac Falls are 65m in height.

The Mac Mac Falls belong to a cluster of lovely waterfalls in Mpumalanga’s Sabie area, on the stunningly scenic Panorama Route. Its twin falls plunge dramatically 70km into the gorge below as rainbows dance over the white spray.

Although the Mac Mac Falls are named for the Scottish miners who sought their fortune by panning for gold in the here during the heady days of the 1870s gold rush, they themselves didn’t come up with the name. Apparently President Thomas Burger was visiting the area in 1873 and was struck by how many of the miners’ names began with ‘Mac’. On the spot, he named the area Mac Mac – a name that has survived to this day. You’ll find the name on many of the nearby tombstones.

The viewing platform at the Mac Mac falls is restricted by wire mesh, but you’ll still get a great view – just make sure your camera lens points through one of the mesh holes. Swimming in the deep pool at the base of the tumbling water is not allowed, but there’s a great spot for swimming and cooling off about 2km before you get to the falls. These are the Mac Mac Pools, where for a small fee you can also use the braai area and picnic site.

If you fancy a gentle walk, then amble along the 3km Secretary Bird Walking Trail at the pools which wanders through indigenous bush. You’ll hear robins, thrushes, turacos, greenbuls, cuckoos in summer, and if you’re lucky, you may well spot that curious looking Secretary bird which stamps snakes and small rodents to death before gobbling them down.

If you’ve time, visit the nearby spectacular Berlin and Lisbon falls, but only if you’ve a head for heights as these falls are not fenced.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Sabie Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)13 764 2580

How to get here

The Mac Mac falls are 13km from the town of Sabie on the R532

Best time to visit

The falls are open for viewing throughout the year.

Tours to do

The Escarpment Route, a short day-trip from Sabie, includes Mac Mac Waterfalls on its itinerary.

What will it cost

Entrance to this waterfall is free, although entrance to the Mac Mac pools, 2km away, will set you back a nominal fee.

Length of stay

If you plan to swim or picnic at the Mac Mac pools, then prepare for a couple of hours.

Where to stay

Accommodation is in nearby Sabie and ranges from hotels and lodges, to guesthouses, B&Bs, self-catering, backpacking and budget. Book early as this is one of South Africa's prime tourist regions.

What's happening

There's a Mountain Bike Rally in May, the bi-annual Sabie Forest Fair in March/April and the Spring Flower Show in early September.