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    Waterval Boven

About Waterval Boven

Waterval Boven (now officially known as Emgwenya) is a small town situated on the edge of the Escarpment on the banks of the Elands River above the 75 metre Elands Falls on the railway line from Pretoria to Maputo in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Hence the name which means "above the waterfall" in Dutch.

It is the sister town of Waterval Onder which is at the base of the Escarpment "below the waterfall". Both settlements were established in 1895 because of the building of the Pretoria - Delagoa Bay railway line, built by the Netherlands-South African Railway Company.

Today Waterval Boven is an international rock-climbing destination and a favoured trout-fishing spot. There are some 450 sport climbing and 150 traditional routes. A lodge with mountain chalets provides accommodation for climbers and visitors and a comprehensive guide exists to climbs in the area.

There are also some excellent wood carvings to be found in the area for those that are willing to be discriminating in their search.

Quick Facts

Province: Mpumalanga
Country: South Africa
Address: Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga

Why go?

- excellent trout fishing
- world renowned rock climbing opportunities

History icon


The railway from Komatipoort to Pretoria reached Waterval Boven in March 1894. In order to establish a supply depot, The Transvaal Republic acquired about 78 hectares of the farm Doornhoek, lying on either side of the line.

Between the towns of Waterval Onder and Waterval Boven, the railway line rises from the Elands River valley and the Lowveld to the eastern edge of the Highveld – 208 metres over a distance of 7.5 kilometres – which necessitated a rack-railway and a steep, curving tunnel over this stretch. This route was later changed to a less severe gradient over a 14 kilometre stretch with two tunnels. After this diversion, the old tunnel was used for road traffic until 1936, when the Elands Pass was built. The original tunnel and also the bridge just below the tunnel, were proclaimed historical monuments.

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Places Nearby

View everything this beautiful place has to offer

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Boven Trout Lodge