Elands River Falls, Mpumalanga
Did you know?
During the Second Anglo-Boer War a famous battle was fought here.
You'll find the Elands River Falls at Emgwenya (previously known as Waterval Boven) in the Mpumalanga province where the highveld drops dramatically down to the lowveld from the Drakensberg escarpment.
There are more waterfalls in the area than anywhere else in South Africa. The Sabie waterfalls, consisting of the Horseshoe, Lone Creek and Bridal Veil falls, as well as the 70m Mac Mac falls, named for the Scottish miners who sought their fortune here during the 1870s gold rush days, are the best known and most visited.
But although the Elands River Falls isn't as high as South Africa's highest waterfall – the 90m Lisbon Falls – at 70m it's still dramatically scenic.
Situated between Emgwenya (Zulu for 'place of the crocodile') and Waterval Onder (Dutch for 'below the waterfall') in the Elandsberg mountain range, you can see the Elands River Falls through the 400m-long NZASM road tunnel, a national monument. The tunnel cuts through the Elandsberg Mountains and, when it was completed in 1883, it was considered internationally as a great feat of engineering.
Intrepid rock climbers have been visiting the falls for years, because Emgwenya is one of South Africa's top rock climbing destinations. But you won't have to scale vertical quartzite crags and cliffs to get a good view.
You'll walk to a wooden observation platform tucked up against the cliffs, where you'll have a clear view of how the falls separates into three mighty ribbons of water as it plunges over 228m of sheer red cliffs and plummets 70m down into a deep pool.
If you have the time, visit Mpumalanga's many other waterfalls, including South Africa's highest waterfall, the Lisbon Falls, named by Portuguese miners who panned for gold here.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300/1
How to get here
From Johannesburg take the N4 north towards Nelspruit (Mbombela). Pass the first turn-off to Emgwenya (Waterval Boven). After about 3km the road passes through a tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, you take the left-hand turning to the NZASM tunnel and the Elands River Falls.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good but April to October is usually dry with perfect climbing conditions.
What to pack
Rock climbing equipment, sunscreen, hat, sturdy walking shoes or boots.
Where to stay
The charming Kiepersol B&B is 300m from the Elands River Falls.
The Boven Rock Rally in September attracts hundreds of rock climbers.