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Tugela Falls

  • Tugela Falls - Drakensberg & Surroundings, KwaZulu Natal
Tugela Falls - Drakensberg & Surroundings, KwaZulu Natal  © Rick McCharles, Copyright

Tugela Falls

South Africa's magnificent Drakensberg mountains are home to the second highest waterfall in the world, the Tugela Falls (Thukela Falls), with a total height of about eight hundred and fifty metres, only second to the 979 metre Salto Angel in Venezuela. The word Thukela comes from the Zulu language, and means "Startling One". The Tugela Falls is one of the main attractions of the The Royal Natal National Park, along with the Amphitheatre.

The view of Tugela Falls from the top of the Amphitheatre is considered by many to be the highlight of any trip to the Drakensberg. The picturesque and pristine mountain hiking trail takes hikers to the summit of Mount-Aux-Sources, and starts at the Sentinel car park at Witsieshoek traveling through Phuthadjhaba, from where it is a fairly short climb to the top of the Amphiteare. With the use of two chain ladders one can gain easy access to the summit. This is the only day hiking trail which leads to the top of the Drakensberg escarpment.

Another popular walk is the twenty three kilometre long hike along the Thukela River to the tunnel. The trail is rather long, but the route is not too strenuous, and hikers of varied fitness should all manage it. The trail travels alongside the river and leads directly up into the Amphitheatre. Near the end of the trail, there is a natural tunnel which has been eroded out of the rock by the river. Above the tunnel it is possible to continue following the river until the awe inspiring Thukela Falls can be seen.

Another trail at the Royal Natal National Park leads to the base of the falls. From the base of the falls, the Thukela Gorge is carved through the sandstone layers of the "little" 'berg. This trail winds through the Tugela gorge, passing through indigenous forests along an easy-to-hike gradient, covering a distance of seven kilometers. The final stretch of the route to the falls, consists of a series of boulder crossing over the river. After climbing a small chain ladder visitors can take the opportunity to view the majestic falls, tumbling down the Amphitheatre into a series of five spectacular cascades


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