While the Tugela Falls may not be a household name, they should be. At a total height of 3,110 feet (947 meters), these waterfalls in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa are the second highest falls in the world, after the Angel Falls in Venezuela. They are found in the Drakensberg (Dragon’s Mountains) in the Royal Natal National Park , near the eastern coast of South Africa. Because the falls are made up of five different tiers or layers, views from above or below are particularly impressive.
The most popular (and satisfying) way to check out the Tugela Falls is to walk one of three popular trails that lead to various parts of the waterfalls. If you want to start in Witsieshoek, you can park your car in the Sentinal car park and then follow a five-hour (return) trail to the summit. There are then two steel chain ladders that you can climb to reach the very top; you can walk half an hour further to be on the edge of the amphitheater, looking down into the gorge below. Alternatively, you can take a longer walk (7 km) from the Royal Natal National Park which takes you through forests to the foot of the falls and a spectacular view. Finally, there is also a popular walk along the river to a natural tunnel which then leads to a great view of the Tugela Falls, but although this walk is relatively easy, it is 23 kilometers in length.
If you’re more comfortable on a tour, there are also several options available. Generally, organized tours will cover a number of sights of the Drakensberg mountain area, and could also include activities like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, abseiling, rock climbing and quad biking. It’s also possible to explore wildflower trails (at the right time of year) and to see genuine rock art created by bushmen over the centuries.
The best place to pick up a tour that includes the Tugela Falls is from the city of Durban. The Drakensberg Tourism website lists a number of reputable tour agencies, each of which offers different kinds of tours. These range from self-drive holidays that have an organized itinerary and accommodation schedule attached, through SUV-style tours and camping, to week-long luxury coach tours taking in a larger list of attractions in South Africa. You can even add a safari in the Kruger National Park if you’re keen to experience and photograph some of those great African animals.