Climbing in Emgwenya
Did you know?
The A.C.R.A wall is one of the most famous and most photographed in South Africa.
Waterval Boven ('above the waterfall' in the original Dutch), now renamed Emgwenya ('place of the crocodile' in Zulu), is a place of vertical quartzite crags and cliffs, perfect for technical endurance climbing. You'll need precision footwork and strong fingers for any of over 500 climbs.
Unlike many other climbing destinations, the mostly ideal weather conditions make for enjoyable rock climbing all year round. As Emgwenya is nearly 1 800m above sea level, it rarely gets too hot. An added bonus is that most of the crags are in the shade by midday as they are east and south-east facing.
The evocative names of the climbs will soon get your adrenalin flowing. At Sport Valley near the main gate of the Elandskrans Mountain Resort choose between 5-star classics or for a very easy, popular 8-15m climb, have a go at Flying is Fun.
The Coven also hosts some classics with improbable demonic names such as Lucifer Goes to the Gunks, Screaming Demons and Shout at the Devil.
The Waterfall Crags, as their name suggests, lie alongside the waterfall and offer some exhilarating climbs. Sorcery is a very popular climb because of its Kodak moment with the waterfall in the background. For a longer route (up to 35m) get to The Last Crag of the Century which has several 5-star routes. Insiders say that the very best Emgwenya routes are 19, 22, 23 and 26.
Fancy trainspotting as you climb? Then try The East End. To get there you have to walk through a train tunnel. If a train comes along, press flat against the side of the tunnel. Apparently it’s quite safe but incredibly terrifying.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Roc 'n' Rope
Phone: +27 (0) 13 257 0363
How to get here
From Johannesburg or Pretoria take the N4 north. The turn-off to Emgwenya (Waterval Boven) is on your right.
Best time to visit
April to October is usually dry with perfect climbing conditions.
Around the area
The nearby Kruger National Park is a perfect getaway for your rest days.
Footwork and fingerholds!
Length of stay
This depends on the number of climbs you intend to try. Plan for 1-3 days at least.
What to pack
Your usual climbing gear, sunscreen, warm clothing for the evenings (even in summer Emgwenya can get chilly at night).
Where to stay
Roc 'n' Rope Adventures' Climbers Lodge caters specifically to climbers in the area.
The Boven Roc Rally, held in September, attracts hundreds of climbers annually.
Roc 'n' Rope, the climbing heart of Emgwenya, sells and rents climbing equipment.