Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

Winona Griggs

Waterfalls of the Wild Coast

There’s something truly magical about waterfalls. The way they cascade down, their sheer power and beauty, is awe-inspiring. You can’t help but be drawn to them, like a moth to a flame. And you know what? Waterfalls are not just a pretty sight; they are also a playground for the senses.

When I stand before a waterfall, I feel a rush of emotions. It’s a mix of excitement, wonder, and serenity all at once. The thundering sound of the water hitting the rocks below is like music to my ears. The mist that rises from the falls cools my skin and kisses my cheeks. It’s refreshing, invigorating, and almost ethereal.

There’s also the visual spectacle. The sheer force of the water as it tumbles down creates a mesmerizing display of power. The droplets sparkle in the sunlight, forming rainbows that seem to dance in the air. It’s a symphony of color and motion that captures my imagination and takes my breath away.

Waterfalls are not just a feast for the eyes and ears; they also beckon you to explore. The pools at the base of the falls invite you to take a dip and feel the cool water against your skin. The surrounding lush greenery is like a welcoming embrace, inviting you to lose yourself in the beauty of nature.

If you haven’t experienced the magic of waterfalls, you’re missing out. The Wild Coast is home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the world. From the towering heights of the Niagara Falls to the hidden gems tucked away in the rainforests, there’s something for everyone.

So, if you’re ready for an adventure of a lifetime, why not embark on a journey to the waterfalls of the Wild Coast? Prepare to be captivated, mesmerized, and inspired. Let the power and beauty of waterfalls engulf your senses and take you on a wild, unforgettable ride.

Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

An incredible journey awaits you on the adventure route that links the breathtaking waterfalls of the Wild Coast. Prepare to immerse yourself in a world of vibrant culture and untouched wilderness. This route will take you on a remarkable exploration of nature’s beauty and the local communities that call this region home. Get ready for an unforgettable experience as you witness the power and majesty of the waterfalls while also discovering the rich traditions and way of life that define this place.

The adventure route offers an opportunity to connect with nature in a unique way. As you traverse the path, you’ll be surrounded by stunning landscapes that will leave you in awe. Be prepared to feel a sense of wonder as you witness the cascading waterfalls, their thundering sound echoing through the air. Nature’s raw power will captivate you, reminding you of the incredible forces that shape our world.

Along the way, you’ll also have the chance to engage with the local communities and learn about their vibrant culture. The people who call this region home have a deep connection to the land and its natural wonders. Their traditions and way of life are intertwined with the breathtaking surroundings, and they have fascinating stories to share. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in their world, gaining a deeper understanding of their customs and beliefs.

The adventure route is a perfect blend of excitement and serenity. It offers a chance to explore the untamed wilderness while also providing moments of reflection and tranquility. As you navigate through the rugged terrain, you’ll be struck by the beauty of your surroundings and the peace that can be found in nature. It’s a reminder of the importance of preserving these wild places for future generations to enjoy.

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So, if you’re ready for an unforgettable adventure, the route connecting the magnificent waterfalls of the Wild Coast awaits. Prepare to be amazed by the raw power of nature and inspired by the vibrant culture that thrives in this region. Embark on a journey that will leave you with lifelong memories and a newfound appreciation for the wonders of our world. Get ready, because the adventure of a lifetime is just around the corner.

Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

Angel Falls, near the Magwa Tea Estate, is located just off the road to Mbotyi. It’s a spot that holds a special place in my heart.

There are certain afternoons that stay with you, even after the sun has set. They may not be filled with life-altering events, but there’s something about them that your memory clings to. For me, it’s a specific place and moment in an afternoon that I often find myself returning to.

There is a moment that I can’t forget, and it takes me back to a rainy day on the Wild Coast. The weather was gloomy, but there was a small pocket of sunshine that illuminated a slab of sandstone by the Mphahlane River. Maybe you’ve never heard of this river, and that’s exactly what made this afternoon so magical. As raindrops gave way to patches of blue sky, the water flowed gracefully over a gentle slope, forming a tranquil pool. I found a comfortable spot on a rock, and as its warmth seeped into my skin, I couldn’t help but be in awe of my surroundings. I thought to myself, “This place is absolutely exquisite, and it’s our little secret.”

Well, not exactly a secret. The children from the nearby Sigidi village have been coming here for generations. But as we approached the river, it was almost hidden from sight, nestled within an unexpected crevice in the grassy landscape. This seclusion filled me with a sense of wonder and captivation.

Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

Did you know that ground hornbills are believed to bring rain? It’s true!

Imagine this: I was by a river, observing the extraordinary power of nature. I was sprawled on a slab of land that sloped down into a magnificent wall of rocks that had been formed over millions of years. The constant flow of water had eroded the sedimentary rock, leaving behind cracked layers of Msikaba sandstone. These sediments were astonishingly deposited beneath the ocean around 400 million years ago. As I ran my fingers over the rock’s surface, I couldn’t help but marvel at the ancient history it held.

Nature had its own little ecosystem here. The Strelitzia nicolai plants had cleverly woven their roots between the rocks directly above me. It was a beautiful sight to behold. But that wasn’t all…

The sound of a thunderous call filled the air, signaling the presence of a southern ground hornbill. I turned to Tutani Mpunga, a seasoned guide with a deep understanding of this land’s plants and animals. He explained the significance of this majestic bird, known as the “rain bird” among the locals. According to tradition, if you want rain, you must immerse a ground hornbill, or even just a feather, in a river. But here’s the catch – you must tie a string to it. This way, when enough rain has fallen, you can retrieve it and stop the rain.

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On that day, I embarked on a week-long adventure through Pondoland, also known as the northern Wild Coast. My goal was simple: to explore and discover as many waterfalls as possible. With excitement and anticipation, I set off from the Mtamvuna River near Port Edward and began my journey southward.

Throughout the trip, our trusty Ford Ranger conquered the challenging muddy roads, allowing us to reach our destinations. Occasionally, when the weather permitted, we embraced the opportunity to trek on foot. Over untamed coastal hills, we traversed from one waterfall to the next, marveling at the breathtaking beauty that surrounded us. The Wild Coast proved to be a treasure trove of magnificent waterfalls, especially during a week filled with relentless rain.

The waterfall that I discovered along the Mphahlane River was a sight to behold. Water cascaded down a smooth rock surface and created a beautiful pool surrounded by vibrant palmiet shrubs. It was a truly breathtaking view, although not the most magnificent one. You see, the waterfalls of the Wild Coast are truly remarkable.

Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

Let me tell you about Waterfall Bluff, a famous place where the Mlambomkulu River flows straight into the Indian Ocean. It’s near Xolobeni, and there’s something truly amazing about it. You see, the Mnyameni River created a grand amphitheater before it discovered a weak spot in the cliffs. Over thousands of years, the water gradually carved a short but almost vertical gorge. The cliffs along the Wild Coast are mostly made of Msikaba sandstone, a type of rock that doesn’t easily erode. That’s why you’ll find many deep gorges and ravines in this area.

Did you know that there’s an incredible waterfall tucked away just 23km northeast of Lusikisiki? It’s called the Ntentule River, and it cascades down a wide bluff, creating a breathtaking sight. In fact, it’s the second-highest waterfall in South Africa, reaching an incredible height of 175.4m. The only waterfall that surpasses it in height is the famous Tugela Falls, standing at 947m.

But it’s not just the Ntentule River that boasts a magnificent waterfall. If you follow the narrow Mkozi River a few kilometers upstream from Mbotyi, you’ll discover the stunning Fraser Falls. This waterfall is truly awe-inspiring, as it gracefully tumbles down three distinct steps, surrounded by lush forested cliffs.

And that’s not all! Just a short distance away, you’ll find the hidden gem known as Magwa Falls. The Mzizangwa River takes a thrilling plunge over a sharp, broad ledge, creating a dramatic 142m drop. What’s even more fascinating is that the river changes direction by 90 degrees from its higher course.

So, if you’re looking for an adventure in nature, these waterfalls are an absolute must-see. They offer a captivating display of nature’s power and beauty, leaving you in awe of the wonders that our world holds. Get ready to be amazed!

Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

Let me tell you about MaNoxolile and her family. They live in Cutwini village and they are the ones who kindly open their doors to visitors for a homestay.

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The waterfalls in the area are truly amazing, but what I found even more delightful was wandering through them. During the week I spent with Tutani, I had the opportunity to learn about the Mpondo culture, their traditions, and the different uses of plants. For example, they use umkhulu, which is a type of forest mahogany, to relieve lower back pain. And if you happen to break a bone, they use isiQalaba, a common sugarbush plant, to help it heal. They even use inqubebe, a large blue scilla, as soap! These experiences really allowed me to form a deeper connection with this beautiful place that was quickly stealing my heart.

This week was more than just a visit for me. It was a true sense of belonging. We stayed in homestay huts and were greeted with open arms by our host families. We left as friends, feeling grateful for their warm hospitality. And let me tell you, we didn’t leave with empty stomachs either! Our hosts treated us to delicious homemade bread and meals made from ingredients grown right in their own gardens.

As we embarked on our adventure, we were brimming with tales. Tutani enlightened us on the fascinating notion that certain flowers can serve as a natural calendar: the blossoming coral tree signifies the opportune moment for planting sorghum and mealies. During our visit to Msikaba, over a delightful spread of tea and cake lovingly baked by MaNtshangase, MaLudude regaled us with the heartwarming tale of how the women in her village join forces to ensure that the profits from their homestays are equitably distributed among all.

Waterfalls of the Wildcoast

When I visited Hidden Valley, I quickly learned that the best way to explore the beautiful waterfalls is with a guide by your side. I was amazed by the stories I heard from the locals. Mr. Nkunde shared with me a fascinating tradition of burning ibhulu leaves outside his homestead to keep lightning away. The leaves, scientifically known as senecio rhyncholaenus, have special properties that act as a protective shield.

During my time at Cutwini, I had the opportunity to sit down with MaNoxolile in her kitchen and enjoy a beer. She explained to me the significance of waterfalls in the Mpondo culture. According to her, water collected at a waterfall is used to create isikhafulo, a powerful medicine that wards off evil spirits. It can also be used to assist those who are in search of love. The sangoma I spoke with added that using water from a waterfall enhances the speed and effectiveness of the messages sent.

Some afternoons stay with you long after the sun goes down. The warmth of a sun-soaked rock seeps into your limbs, just like a place can seep into your soul and leave you forever changed. Your perspective shifts, and you find yourself becoming more passionate, more compassionate. Rested. Energized. Connected. It’s a humbling experience, the things you discover when you embark on a journey to chase waterfalls.

This article was adapted from an original version that was featured in our February 2022 magazine issue.
Written and photographed by Narina Exelby.

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