Mpumalanga is a destination synonymous with incredible wildlife, breathtaking natural vistas, and a plethora of outdoors activities. The Kruger Lowveld region in particular, home to gold rush towns like Pilgrim's Rest, Sabie and Graskop, is packed with attractions and activities for nature lovers. For starters, visitors can mountain bike and hike through one of the world's largest man-made forest in the hills between Sabie and Graskop, take in some game viewing in the world-famous Kruger National Park, check out the world's oldest mountains in Barberton or explore the panoramic landscape around Graskop.
On top of its other natural attractions, Mpumalanga has more waterfalls than any other province. At the heart of it all is the dramatic landscape around the Kruger Lowveld's forestry towns of Sabie and Graskop. Many beautiful waterfalls decorate the cliffs and forested gorges of this fantastic region. With easy access, great visitor's facilities and accessible via a short hike at the most, exploring at least some of these waterfalls is an absolute must for visitors to the area.
Here is our pick of some of the most enchanting waterfalls in Mpumalanga. Which one is your favourite?
1. Lone Creek Falls - Sabie
Situated an easy 10 minute drive out of Sabie and with beautiful indigenous forest, picnic facilities, a sandy beach and pool for swimming, Lone Creek Falls is the perfect day's outing. Added to this, a network of walking paths allows visitors the opportunity to view the 68 m falls from every possible angle, and it is possible to find a quiet corner away from tourist crowds from which to enjoy the falls for yourself. Together with the indigenous vegetation in the kloof below the waterfall, Lone Creek Falls has been declared a national monument in recognition of its beautiful natural aesthetics.
To get to Lone Creek Falls, follow Ou Lydenburg Road out of Sabie along the course of the Sabie River. As with most of the waterfalls in Mpumalanga, there is a nominal entry fee (approx. R5 per person) because the falls are on forestry land, but in return the visitor's facilities are well-kept and there is security on site.
2. Lisbon Falls - Graskop
Lisbon Falls is possibly our favourite waterfall around Graskop for its sheer size and beauty. At 94 m it is Mpumalanga's highest waterfall, and was named for Portugal's capital city by the European miners in the area during its gold rush heyday.
Take it in from a viewing platform near the car park at the top of the falls or for the more adventurous, go on a wonderful and not too steep hike to the bottom of the falls themselves.
Lisbon Falls are accessible on the R532 from Graskop. There is a nominal entry fee (approx. R10 per car incl. passengers) because the falls are on forestry land, but in return the visitor's facilities are well-kept and there is security on site.
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3. Berlin Falls - Graskop
Like the Lisbon Falls, the Berlin Falls are named for another of Europe's capitals because of the prevalence of European miners who came to the area during the gold rush of the late 1800s. The Sabine River drops 45 m down a cliff face and creates the Berlin Falls, said to be candle-shaped when the river is in full flow with a narrow wick at the top and broad base below. This waterfall has been declared a national monument.
The Berlin Falls are easily viewed from a platform at the top of the falls. Situated close to the Lisbon Falls and en route to the Blyde River Canyon, visiting these falls forms part of an epic day trip from Graskop.
Berlin Falls is accessible on the R532 from Graskop, and is close to Lisbon Falls. There is a nominal entry fee (approx. R10 per car, incl. passengers) because the falls are on forestry land, but in return the visitor's facilities are well-kept and there is security on site.
4. Bridal Veil Falls - Sabie
Another of Sabie's gems, the Bridal Veil Falls are infinitely more delicate than any of the other waterfalls in the area and named for their resemblance to a the sheer veil of a bride's wedding outfit. Water in these falls doesn't plunge - it drifts gently over the rocky overhang in a fine spray that kisses the rocks below. A forested (and slippery!) pathway leads to a pool below the falls and then wraps around the base of the cliff to behind the falls themselves, and is great fun to explore!
To access the Bridal Veil Falls, follow either Ou Lydenburg Road or Assegaai Street out of Sabie. Follow the signposts to the waterfall from the intersection of Ou Lydenburg Road and Assegaai Street. Bridal Veil Falls are close to the Ceylon Hut of the Fanie Botha Hiking Trail, another must for visitors to the area and great for exploring limited-access waterfalls in Mpumalanga.
5. Horseshoe Falls - Sabie
Although a relatively small waterfall, the Horseshoe Falls on the Sabie River is unique in that it is shaped like a horse shoe. This pretty waterfall is close to Sabie and is accessible via a short walk from the grassy parking lot. Once at the falls, exploring the site further requires a bit of a scramble over rocks, and unlike Lone Creek Falls there isn't a beach for swimming. Horseshoe Falls are worth a look in any case for its unique shape and aesthetics. It has been declared a national monument, and being very close to Lone Creek Falls, we'd recommend combining the two into a half day trip.
To get to Horseshoe Falls, follow Ou Lydenburg Road out of Sabie and take Bushbuckgrige to the left. The falls is signposted, and there is a nominal entry fee for visitors. The dirt road to the falls can be slippery following rain.
6. Mac Mac Falls Pools - Between Sabie and Graskop
Supposedly named for the high number of Scottish miners who flocked to the area during the gold rush of the 1870s, the Mac Mac Pools are the perfect place to while away a hot summer's day in Mpumalanga. Whilst technically more of a cascade than a waterfall, the Mac Mac Pools make the list because they are simply one of the most enjoyable attractions in the area! Here the Mac Mac River cascades gently through a series of rock pools, many of which are deep enough for a proper swim, before continuing on towards the Mozambique coastline.
The Mac Mac Pools will keep the whole family happy - as well as a refreshing dip in the icy mountain water, visitors to the Mac-Mac Pools can enjoy excellent shaded picnic and braai facilities close to the pools, while the more energetic take on the 3 km circular Secretary Bird hiking trail through the surrounding grassland.
The Mac Mac Pools are a popular stop, and can get busy during peak holiday seasons. There is a nominal (approximately R20) per person entry fee for day visitors. The pools are accessible on the R532 between Sabie and Graskop.
7. Mac Mac Falls - Between Sabie and Graskop
Upstream from the Mac Mac Pools, The Mac Mac River plunges some 65 m over the cliff face at the Mac Mac Falls. Originally a single stream, the river was diverted by miners wanting to work a nearby gold reef and today, the falls is made up of two streams of water. Like the Horseshoe, Lone Creek and Berlin Falls, The Mac Mac Falls and the indigenous vegetation below the waterfall have been declared a national monument. Visitors can view the waterfall from a platform at the top close to the car park that is unfortunately not wheelchair friendly.
Mac Mac Falls are accessible on the R532 between Sabie and Graskop. There is a nominal (approx. R10 per car, incl. passengers) entry fee to view the waterfall.
Places to stay nearby
There are two towns that are situated in close proximity to these waterfalls: Sabie and Graskop.
In Sabie we really enjoyed our stays at the Sabie Self-Catering Appartments and Misty Mountain Lodge (be sure to check out their toboggan), while in Graskop, we can highly recommend the Graskop Hotel.