Tugela Falls, in South Africa, is located in the Drakensberg within the Royal Natal National Park. The combined total drop of its five distinct free-leaping falls is 948 m and it is accepted as the world’s second-tallest waterfall.
The Royal Natal National Park is in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa and forms part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. The main features of the park are the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, a rock wall 5 kilometres long by up to 1,200 metres high, Mont-Aux-Sources peak where the Orange and Tugela rivers have their origins and the 948-metre Tugela Falls.
The Tugela River is known to vary greatly in volume and as a result may not flow consistently year round or may dry out completely during certain periods. At the right time of year, however, the Tugela Falls is easily visible from the main road into the park, especially after a heavy rain. Tugela is a phonetic spelling of the word “Thukela” (Zulu) , meaning “sudden” or “startling”.
There are two trails to the falls (from within the park). The second trail’s means of access follows the Tugela River upstream through the Tugela Gorge. This trail is 7km in length and the gradient is not so steep as the first trail. The trailhead is roughly 1585m above sea level.
Before venturing on your trip, please check the weather. And remember a comprehensive hiking guide is available for purchase at the Visitor Centre at the main entrance gate. The guide shows a map of the park and the network of hiking paths which visit every part of the park.
Tugela River Rafting
The Tugela River is the largest river in KwaZulu Natal. The river originates in the Drakensberg Mountains at Mont-aux-Sources, (the source of tributaries of two other major South African rivers, the Orange River and the Vaal River) and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls.
From the Drakensberg range the river meanders for 502 kilometres through the KwaZulu Natal midlands before flowing into the Indian Ocean.
The Tugela passes Bergville and Colenso and its southern end flows in a deep channel between cliffs and valleys until it reaches the narrow coast belt.
There is an excellent 20km stretch of rapids and pools on this section of the Tugela Canyon including the intimidating Washing machine and Finger rock rapids.
Rafting on big water is traditionally between November and April – depending on water levels.
Depending on rainfall conditions you’ll take on the challenge in either 8 or 2 man inflatable rafts. No experience is necessary as fully trained guides will assist you in negotiating the river safely while the roar of the water rejuvenates your soul.
The sheer exhilaration of the Tugela Adventure makes it a great place to build team spirit and work on stress relief.
For bird lovers the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve is interesting. The nature protection area of about 100 hectares lies on the southern banks of the Tugela River, almost 6 kilometres before the river mouth. More than 200 bird species were registered here. And there live zebras, monkeys, mongoos and some antelope species.
Zingela Rafting – Tel: 036 354 7005/7250