Explore South Africa's many tourist attractions

Waterval Boven / Emgwenya

Afrikaans name: Waterval Boven

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Waterval Boven

Photo © Steven Herbert

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Waterval Boven

Photo © Steven Herbert


Waterval Boven is now officially called Emgwenya. It is a small town on the banks of the Elands River in Mpumalanga.

The name of the town originates from the Dutch phrase for 'above the waterfall'. Its sister town is Waterval Onder which means 'below the waterfall'. The waterfall being referred to is the Elands Waterfall which is 70 metres high.

The area around Waterval Boven is beautiful and rock climbing is a popular pastime in the area.

The town was founded in 1894 and served mainly as a railway marshalling yard. At that time there was a railway line skirting the cliffs down to Waterval Onder. It was a rack railway and was the only one of its kind in South Africa. The rack system helped the locomotives get up the one-in-twenty gradient. The locomotive would be at the back of the train and would push the coaches up the incline.

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