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Waterval Boven (Emgwenya)

Heartland & Highlands


The two villages of Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder are charming historical spots. The Elands River flows through both of them. Waterval Boven is set above a 228m-high waterfall; Waterval Onder is below it.

Waterval Boven is the bigger village, and dates back to 1895 when the Eastern Line railway was constructed between Pretoria and Delagoa Bay (modern-day Maputo). These days it is famed for its rock climbing adventures, and also the chance to take a train ride between the two villages.

The cog wheel rail ascending the slopes of the mountain between Waterval Onder and the town is the only one of its kind in Africa. A depot for the cog wheel locomotives was established at Waterval Boven in days gone by. The town was administered by the railways until 1946, when it was transferred to a health committee.

Look out for

Rock climbing - For two days rock climbers from across SA descend on the picturesque village of Waterval Boven to compete in Africa's biggest climbing festival, the Boven Roc Rally. The event attracts top climbers from South Africa, and international climbers from Austria, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. It’s a rock climbing endurance event that involves teams of two racing between the cliff faces around Waterval Boven. The requirement is to do as many climbs as possible on the first day, then climb the hardest route that each participant wants to attempt on the second day.

History & heritage - Both Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder are rich in historical sites and buildings and National Monuments. There is the old Tunnel and Five Arch Bridge, as well as President Paul Kruger's official residence where he resided in 1900 before going into exile in Europe. The Elands River Waterfall is visible from the mouth of the old Railway Tunnel.

Train ride - A delightful way to get a sense of the area is to take a 30-minute steam train from Waterval Boven to Waterval Onder and back again. This trip offers wonderful views.

Fishing - There are plenty of dams, rivers and waterfalls that are well stocked with trout.

Stone circles - Scattered throughout the mountains of Waterval Onder & Boven are the mysterious stone ruins that have puzzled historians and archaeologists for many decades. You can eat at the Stone Circle Bistro in Waterval Boven, brainchild of musician, author, scientist and explorer, Michael Tellinger. He has created a fascinating small country bistro, bar, bookshop and museum.

To Do

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