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Starting in Nelspruit, there are a plethora of picturesque day trips to take, and one of the most beloved by both locals and tourists is visiting waterfalls. If you're planning a waterfall excursion, this guide will help point you in the right direction.

forest falls

Our list has: Cascades Waterfall | Montrose Falls | Battery Creek Falls | Elands River Falls | Sabie Falls | Horse Shoe Falls | Bridal Veil Falls | Lone Creek Falls | Forest Falls | Mac Mac Falls and Pools | Maria Shires Falls | Panorama Falls | Lisbon Falls | Berlin Falls

Cascades Waterfall

In the heart of Nelspruit in the Lowveld National Botanical Garden one finds some impressive waterworks where the Crocodile River enters the garden with an incredible rush. Spouting through a narrow rock gorge the Croc finds the Nels River and cascades down a waterfall before merging into a pool. These two rivers shape the geography of the garden and can be seen from a viewing platform on the western side of the garden.
Know before you go:

The garden is open Monday to Sunday, Sep-Mar, 08h00-18h00 and Apr-Aug: 08h00-17h00. Entrance for adults is R24, for students, R12, SA senior citizens R12, children R10 and free to BOTSOC members.

Montrose Falls

Some waterfalls impress with their height while others do so with their sheer power. Montrose Falls just outside Nelspruit definitely fall into the last category. There are actually two waterfalls joined by a series of cascades and after heavy rains this makes for quite the sight as masses of water crash over the giant boulders.
Unofficially also known as Montrose Creek Falls, this water wonder is unfortunately one of the not so well kept spots and it is recommended you don’t go alone or in small groups as the surroundings are rather overgrown and remote.

Know before you go:
Find the falls on the N4 west of Nelspruit just opposite the Schoemanskloof turnoff. Park your car next to the road and follow the path towards the river. There used to be a loop road one could drive to get close to the falls but this is no longer maintained.

Battery Creek Falls

Just over 30km from Nelspruit lays the quaint little town of Kaapsehoop where you’ll find the beautiful Battery Creek Waterfall. A short and moderate hike will lead you out of town, through a plantation and into a gorge at the end of which you will find the 30m high waterfall. The pool under the waterfall is deep enough to swim in and many an outdoor enthusiast head out this way for a picnic over the weekend. Although not long or difficult, the hike can be somewhat technical and slippery after rain so take care to avoid injury.

Know before you go:
To do the waterfall hike you need to first obtain a permit from the Koek-en-Pan restaurant at the end of the main road in Kaapsehoop. From here you can either walk across the road or drive back a few hundred metres towards Nelspruit before turning left into the plantation where you can leave your car at security before making your way past the graveyard. Look out for the waterfall route sign and head down the path behind it. See a detailed description of the hike here.

 

Mac Mac Falls

Mac Mac Falls

Elands River Falls

Just outside the hidden little town of Waterval Boven, now known as Emgwenya, you will find the Elands River Falls as it drops down some 70m from the Drakensburg escarpment into the Lowveld. The Elands River originates from the areas around Machadodorp and later joins the right bank of the Crocodile River. The Waterfall is best viewed from the wooden viewing deck at the back of the 400m long NZASM road tunnel. Both waterfall and tunnel carry national monument status. The tunnel chases through the Elandsberg Mountains and when it was finished in 1883 it was considered a great engineering masterpiece.
The waterfall and surrounding area is frequented by rock climbers from around the world as this area is regarded as one of South Africa’s best climbing destinations. It is also the home of the annual Rock Rally festival.

Know before you go:
Stop at the eastern end of new tunnel where there will be car guards. The NZASM tunnel, which is no longer used by vehicles, is dark so it might be wise to take a torch. Be very careful on the wooden viewing deck as it is not well maintained and can be unsafe.

Sabie Falls

Not many towns have bragging rights when it comes to having a waterfall right under its main road. Town of the year for 2013, Sabie, however claims this one as the aptly named Sabie falls lies right under a bridge on the R532 leaving the town in the Graskop direction.
There is ample parking and a very short walk will take you to a viewing platform from where you can see the water falling a staggering 73m.
If you are feeling fit you can leave your car in the parking area and follow the path on the other side of the road that winds down into the gorge and end up right at the bottom of the waterfall. Do however not attempt this alone or in a small group as this area is not protected and the path is not clearly marked.

Know before you go:
A minimal entrance fee is charged at the gate to the parking area. To find the waterfall take the R532 towards Graskop and look out for the last tarred turn to your left just before leaving town.

Horse Shoe Falls

Just 4km outside Sabie on the old Lydenburg road you will encounter a very unusual waterfall named after the shape it takes. The Horse Shoe falls is one of three waterfalls in the Sabie River that can be viewed along the same road. Although this particular one is not very high, it is definitely a must-see due to its unique nature.
Getting to the falls from the parking area is easy as it is just a short walk away and the surroundings is quite breath-taking in its beauty and splendour. The falls carry national monument status and the sight is ideal for exploring, birding, a picnic and to cool down in the refreshing pools.
This area is also very popular among trout fisherman who wade in the shallows of the river hoping to catch that big one.

Know before you go:
A minimal fee is charged on entering the parking area. Look out for signage and if you have time make a stop at Horse Shoe Trout Farm.

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Bridal Veil Falls

Just 6km out of Sabie you will encounter the spectacular Bridal Veil waterfall. This 70m high waterfall resembles a veil due to its misty, almost translucent nature. Getting to the falls however required negotiating a tricky 750m hike through indigenous rainforest and past some beautiful streams, flowers and ferns.


Know before you go:
To get to the waterfall drive in the direction of Graskop. Turn left at the last 4-way stop in town and follow the old Lydenburg tar road for 2km. Turn right before York Timbers’ sawmill and follow the gravel (part tar) road across the Sabie River for 3km. There are public toilets available but unfortunately it is not wheelchair friendly. Entry on date of publication R5 per person, R20 per minibus, R100 per bus.

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Lone Creek Falls

Just a 200m walk through the beautiful forest will get you to the fantastic Lone Creek Waterfall which is 68m high. This waterfall also holds national monument status and has picnic areas and public toilets on site. The Lone Creek falls are approximately 9km out of Sabie on the old Lydenburg road.

Know before you go:
To get to the waterfall drive in the direction of Graskop. Turn left at the last 4-way stop in Sabie and follow the old Lydenburg tar road. Look out for the sign indicating the turnoff. A small entrance fee is charged at the boom gate. Entry on date of publication R5 per person, R20 per minibus, R100 per bus.

Forest Falls

Forest Falls is 15km from Sabie on the Graskop road (R532), immediately before the railway crossing. A 4km circular hike along the Mac Mac River and through plantations will take you to the waterfall. This waterfall is quite unique in the sense that it is wider than it is high and almost looks like a small Victoria Falls. It has a beautiful big pool and picnic area and has become a popular backdrop for photos and advertisements.

Know before you go:
To visit the forest falls you would need to acquire a permit from Komatieland Ecotourism. Cars are left at the Green Heritage Picnic Site where the hiking trail starts and finishes. There are toilets and security at the picnic site.
To get there drive on the R532 to Graskop. Just after crossing the railway you will see the picnic area on the right. The Maria Shires Waterfall is right across the road from the picnic area. To book permits visit www.komatiecotourism.co.za

Mac Mac Pools

Mac Mac Pools

Mac Mac Falls and Pools

The name Mac Mac was given to this particular area by President Thomas Burger in the 1870’s, as a reference to the many Scottish gold miners whose surnames all started with Mac. This 65m high waterfall is below the average ground level as it falls into a gorge next to the R532, often creating rainbows with its water spray. It used to have only one stream of water but the gold diggers blasted it in an attempt to divert the flow so as to allow them to work the area under the waterfall. This then created several streams of falling water. The Mac Mac Waterfall carries national monument status. The waterfall is viewed from an enclosed platform for safety reasons. There are also many stalls selling traditional arts and crafts. Swimming is not allowed here so if you would like to cool off rather head back in the direction of Sabie for 2km where you will find the Mac Mac Pools.

Know before you go:
The Mac Mac Falls are situated on the R532 between Sabie and Graskop, 13km from Sabie. When travelling from Sabie look out for the parking area on the right. The concrete path leading to the waterfall is not wheelchair friendly. The turnoff to the Mac Mac Pools is about 2km earlier. The pools are also home to the 3km Secretary Bird hiking trail which is a favourite among birders. Entry on date of publication R20 per person, R20 per minibus, R100 per bus.

 

Maria Shires Falls

Maria Shires Falls

Maria Shires Falls

The Maria Shires Waterfall was named after Maria Shires, born Maria Taylor, who lies buried close to the falls. Her son, Joseph Shires is credited for pioneering forestry in the Sabie region and planted the first Eucalyptus and Wattle in the area in 1876. Although only 35m high this waterfall is known for producing a thunderous noise after heavy rain.

Know before you go:
The Maria Shires Waterfall is situated on the R532 between Sabie and Graskop. From Sabie drive 15km until you get to the railway crossing where the waterfall is immediately on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

Panorama Falls

Just outside Graskop on the road to Hazyview you will find the Graskop Gorge and Panorama Waterfall. This waterfall is fed only by the small catchment area around it and is normally not that impressive. But when heavy rains come it quickly transforms into a breath-taking sight as it spills out into the deep gorge below.

Know before you go:
Big Swing has viewing decks on either side of the gorge so look out for signage at both spots. The first spot is where you can conquer your fear by experience the adrenalin of a 68m free fall at 180km/h in less than 3 seconds on one of the world’s highest cable gorge drops. If you are not the adrenaline seeking type the bar at the opposite side of the gorge might be more to your liking. From here you watch as the people drop down into the abyss. Find the entrance just a few hundred metres further down the road. There are also curio stalls selling some handmade crafts.
To find out more about the big swing click here.

Lisbon FallsLisbon Falls

Lisbon Falls

The title of highest falls in Mpumalanga belongs to this giant that measures in at 94m. The waterfall was named after the capital city of Portugal and splits into three just before plummeting down the Lisbon Creek.

Know before you go:
Lisbon Falls is situated north of Graskop on the R532. When visiting this waterfall be sure to also drop by God’s Window, Blyde River Canyon, Pinnacle Rock and nearby Berlin Waterfall. There is a small fee applicable. Entry on date of publication R10 per car, R20 per minibus, R100 per bus.

Berlin Falls

Uniquely shaped like a candle the 80m high Berlin Falls first run through a carved out sluice, making the wick, before widening into the solid white body of the candle. The pool below is ideal for swimming and there is ample space for a picnic. The waterfall got its name from German miners who nostalgically named after the German town Berlin.

Know before you go:
North of Graskop on the R532 drive 2km past the R534 turnoff before turning left past the Berlin sawmill. 2km from main road you will find the parking area on your left. A short walk takes you to a vantage point overlooking the falls. Entry on date of publication R10 per car, R20 per minibus, R100 per bus.

Berlin Falls

Berlin Falls

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  • 13 June 2024 8:32 pm local time

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