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  • Writer's pictureNick Burgess

Africa's Beauty: The Best Natural Waterfalls in South Africa

South Africa, known for its diverse landscapes and natural wonders, is home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls on the African continent that I am absolutely desperate to check out. With the Cape being firmly planted on the top of my travel list, I enlisted the help of my parents, who just recently returned from South Africa, to help me compile of list of the best waterfalls they saw during their time on the other side of the world.

From the towering heights of Tugela Falls to the serene beauty of Meiringspoort Waterfall, these natural wonders offer spectacular views, lush surroundings, and unique experiences. In this article, we'll explore the best waterfalls in South Africa, highlighting their unique features and why they deserve a spot on your travel itinerary.

a waterfall running through the jungle

Tugela Falls: The Second Tallest Waterfall in the World

Located in the Royal Natal National Park, Tugela Falls is often cited as the second tallest waterfall in the world, with a total drop of 948 meters. This majestic waterfall in the Drakensberg Mountains, also known as the Dragon's Mountains, is fed by the Tugela River. Visitors can hike to the top of the falls for an exhilarating adventure, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The best time to visit is during the rainy season, from November to February, when the water flow is at its peak.

Augrabies Falls: The Place of Great Noise

Augrabies Falls National Park, located in the Northern Cape, is home to one of South Africa's largest waterfalls, Augrabies Falls. Known as the "Place of Great Noise" due to the thunderous sound of the water crashing down, this waterfall on the Orange River drops 56 meters into a granite gorge. The surrounding park offers hiking trails, viewing platforms, and a chance to see the diverse flora and fauna of the region.

Berlin Falls and Lisbon Falls: Gems of the Panorama Route

The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga is famous for its stunning landscapes and beautiful waterfalls. Berlin Falls, with its dramatic drop into a circular basin, and Lisbon Falls, the highest waterfall in the area with a total drop of 94 meters, are must-visit sites. These waterfalls are part of the Lisbon Creek and offer easy access and picturesque views. The best way to experience them is by taking a road trip along the route, stopping at various viewing points and hidden gems along the way.

Howick Falls: The Jewel of Kwazulu-Natal Province

Situated in the small town of Howick in the Kwazulu-Natal Province, Howick Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in South Africa. With a drop of 95 meters, this waterfall is steeped in local legend, believed to be inhabited by the Inkanyamba, a giant serpent-like creature. The falls are easily accessible, with a viewing platform that offers spectacular views and an easy walk from the parking lot.

Mac-Mac Falls: A Twin Beauty

Named after Scottish miners during the gold rush, Mac-Mac Falls, or Mac Mac Falls, is a twin waterfall located near the town of Sabie. With a total drop of 65 meters, these falls are part of the Sabie Waterfalls Route, which includes other notable falls such as Lone Creek Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The lush forest and surrounding landscape make this area a favorite among nature lovers and photographers.

Magwa Falls: A Hidden Gem

In the Eastern Cape, Magwa Falls is a hidden gem that plunges 144 meters into a narrow canyon. This waterfall, surrounded by lush vegetation and tea plantations, offers a more secluded and tranquil experience compared to the more famous waterfalls. The best time to visit is during the rainy season when the waterfall is in full flow.

Meiringspoort Waterfall: A Natural Wonder

Located in the Western Cape, Meiringspoort Waterfall is a beautiful scene set within a narrow gorge. The waterfall is easily accessible, with a short walk from the parking lot leading to the foot of the waterfall. The sheer volume of water cascading down creates a mesmerizing spectacle, making it a favorite waterfall for visitors exploring the region.

Tsitsikamma National Park: Nature's Paradise

Tsitsikamma National Park, on the Garden Route, is renowned for its dramatic coastline and lush forests. The park is home to several amazing waterfalls, including those found along the Otter Trail, one of South Africa's most popular hiking trails. The combination of forest, sea, and waterfalls creates a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Victoria Falls: The Mighty Wonder

While not located within South Africa, the mighty Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is often included in discussions of southern Africa's most impressive waterfalls. Known as the world's tallest waterfall in terms of the sheer volume of water, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit for any waterfall enthusiast traveling in the region.

Conclusion: Discovering South Africa's Best Waterfalls

South Africa's waterfalls offer something for every traveler, from the thrill of hiking to the top of Tugela Falls to the serene beauty of Meiringspoort Waterfall. Whether you're on a road trip along the Panorama Route or exploring the national parks, these natural wonders provide breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences. Don't miss the chance to explore these beautiful scenes and hidden gems on your next adventure to the Republic of South Africa.

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