Tugela Falls visit via an exciting hiking trip

Africa | | December 6, 2010 at 12:52 am


Nestled in the Dragon’s Mountains (Drakensberg) of the Royal Nata National Park, the Tugela Falls is just a memorable spectacle that is ranked second in the list of highest waterfalls on the planet. Adorning the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa, the waterfall is split into five free cascades all making for the total drop of 3,110 feet. With this geographical layout, the surrounding scene of green and misty mountains along with the shine of the cascade due to the reflection of the sun in the late afternoon form up a breathtaking vista for the tourists to hike to this great Tugela Falls. One more astonishing feature of these falls is that its source called the Tugela River is nestled many kilometers away from the escarpment, the spot from where the plunge starts. Accessible from the major travel road leading one in the park, the Tugela Falls is not only worth seeing, but is also worth drinking as its water is clean and safe.

To reach the falls, you need to hike on one of the two hiking trails ending at the cascade. Among the two, the first one is called the Tugela Gorge Trail leading one up to the base of the falls. This hiking trail is reachable by going down the Tendele Camp up to the Tugela River from where route starts. Many say that this is one of the most famous and scenic walk that must be taken up for a full day trip for obtaining the most of it. The total time with the round trip is 6.5 hours making you hike a distance of 22.5 km (up and down trips including). This trail is certainly a superb experience of ascending the mountains from the Tugela car park. Despite it being the flat trail, it just does not miss to give you splendid scenery. The trail’s initial 4 km is just good as no instructions or special directions are required; in fact, the path just meanders by the side of and over the Tugela River. If you are passing this way in spring and summer, the scenery is just mind blowing as the valley comes to life with its blooming indigenous flora. Talking about the further distance of the trail, it just moves in and out of green jungles plunging down the hills until the below watercourse. Do not forget to spot the sights of the Amphitheatre wall that becomes more gorgeous as you reach near and near the Gorge. Soaring at 1800 m from the floor of the valley, the wall is just spectacular to visit. In fact, viewing the Tugela Falls from above the Amphitheatre is the main attraction of an excursion to these Dragon Mountains.

As you approach the last km of this trail, you will come across the river’s three boulder crossings that are only tough to approach during floods. Unless you encounter floods, just don’t look back and make some efforts so that you are rewarded with the most scenic landscape in the park, which is seen only after reaching at the far end while you sip a welcome tea served by the guide of The Cavern. Once you reach the Gorge, a tunnel appears via which the river meets an impenetrable rock formation that you can avoid via a rushing up a right chain ladder. Utilize this one to evade the tunnel and directly enter the Amphitheatre and the boulder trip above the falls where each footstep of yours beholds your eyes with a different view ending at the top of the Tugela Falls. However, beware of the thunderstorms that in no time loom over the wall of Amphitheatre, while you enjoy at this exceptional site. On your down trip, you will reach the car park site quicker, so it’s better to enjoy the views while on up trip.

There is one more route to reach the falls, which leads one up to the spot from where the waterfalls begins its plunge below the escarpment. A majority of the tourists consider this trail to be the most spectacular one for mountain hiking that makes you reach at the summit of the Mount-Aux-Sources. Beginning from the Witsieshoek’s Sentinel car park, the route passes through Phuthadjhaba from where one needs take up a short ascend at the apex of the Amphitheatre with the help of the dual chain ladders. The entire trail takes your 5 to 8 hours including a return trip, which is actually dependent on your fitness. If you want to be atop the Drakensberg escarpment, then take up this hiking trail.


  • Montusi Mountain Lodge:
    Opulent resort offering 360 degree vistas of the Amphitheatre near the falls
  • Caterpillar and Catfish Cookhouse:
    Bed and Breakfast near the falls
  • Tendele Camp:
    Bungalow requiring self catering in the national park
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